How to know if a website is trustworthy

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Don’t click blindly. Here’s how to determine a webpage’s reliability

Have you ever been working away or browsing the web only to click on a link and find your device bombarded with dodgy ads and newly opened web windows? You might also notice that your system has slowed.

This can be disconcerting for those of us who rely on our tech for business needs, and it can even open the door to nasty intruders like malware, spyware and viruses.

But don’t worry. There are ways to make sure that the only sites you visit are trustworthy and reliable. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide, courtesy of the IT support experts at Syntax.

Check the link

The easiest thing you can do to make sure you’re clicking on a safe link is to check the link itself. Web addresses contain a few tell-tale signs about whether you should be clicking on them or not.

First of all, look for that all-important ‘http’ at the start of the link. This means that the site has been secured using an SSL Certificate.

You should also pay attention the domain name, as phishing sites often choose domains that are similar to popular sites as a way to trick you (for example, using ‘amaz0n.com’ rather than ‘amazon.com’).

Seek out expert advice

If your pipes burst, you would want a professional to help you fix it, and similarly you should look for relevant experts online too.

Find sites with the expert information you need for your query. Sites with genuinely informative content are less likely to be spamming for clicks.

Stay away from suspiciously commercial sites

Many of the most popular and reputable sites can be classed as commercial (every online shopping company, for example) but there are some sites that are clearly there just to sell.

These sites don’t care about user experience or safety, which means that you may be putting yourself at risk by entering payment information.

Don’t be swayed by bias

A lot of what you read online is fuelled by the host site’s desire to make money and gain attention.

If you read an article about how a certain site sells amazing items at low prices, there’s a very high chance that they are being paid to, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Use sites from established businesses

Nowadays, websites can be up and running in a matter of minutes, and whilst this is great news for genuine small businesses trying to make a start online, it also means you have to filter out sites that only want to spam you.

In order to stay safe, look for sites from established businesses you know you can trust.

Looks matter

It might sound obvious, but it’s worth remembering that if a site looks amateurish or unfinished, there’s a chance it was put together in a rush for clickbait.

Similarly, if a site requires you to click through several pages to see the full content, they probably just want your clicks.

Check the date

Like all content, website content can quickly become outdated. The most reputable and reliable websites are updated regularly, so if a site looks like it’s been gathering dust for a few months or years it could well be risky.

Keep your eyes peeled for the ‘Last Updated’ date on the page or site.

Beware anonymous authors

Not all anonymous authors are untrustworthy, but the good thing about a named author is that you can always Google search them in order to check their credentials.