What your website badges do and don't do

What your website badges do and don't do

There are tons of badges floating around out there on the Internet, and most site owners are too busy running their businesses to differentiate between all of them.

Who can blame them? There are customer service badges, SSL certificates, privacy badges, security seals, shopping guarantees, and more—and all of them say different things to your customers.

If you have a badge, or you’re thinking about getting one, it can be confusing to figure out what does what, but it’s important.

Why? Because the last thing you want to do is clutter up your site and spend your budget on badges that don’t help your site or worse—hurt it. Which, well, defeats the whole point. It’s better to choose fewer badges that are highly impactful for your visitors.

So without further ado, here are the different types of badges that exist—what they do, what they don’t do, and what you need to have to make people convert.

Customer Service Badges

What they do: These badges show ratings of shipping and customer service interactions with customers, indicating if a business has good track record. They’re especially useful for lesser known sites.

What they don’t do: They don’t address a majority of consumer’s biggest concern—security. More than customer service, consumers are worried about their identity and financial information being compromised.

Shopping Guarantees

What they do: Shopping guarantees reassure users that even if the online merchant does not or cannot deliver on their end of the bargain, they won’t lose money. For example, if you place an order at an online shoe store and the shipment doesn’t arrive, you’ll be covered by the providers of the guarantee.

What they don’t do: This protection is all about one thing: a shopper’s money. And while it’s important, a shopping guarantee does nothing for the security of a website. A site could have a guarantee and still be hacked, or full of malware, or not have a valid SSL certificate—exposing you to identity theft.

Privacy Badges

What they do: Privacy badges are ways for sites to remind visitors that the site they’re on won’t share or sell their personal information. As consumers grow wary of web companies using their personal data for profit, this is a great way to remind them you’re one of the good guys.

What they don’t do: Like shopping guarantees, privacy badges have almost nothing to do with web security. A site that won’t share your info can still easily be hacked, and your identity can end up in a stranger’s hands anyway.

SSL Certificate

What it does: SSL is a way data is encrypted so it can be sent safely across networks. Probably the most common security badge, an SSL certificate lets visitors know that data they send (usually by forms, such as for credit cards or email addresses) follows this standard, and is secure.

What it doesn’t do: Everything else. SSL certificates only say that the data sent from this site is encrypted. That’s it. Sites that have only an SSL certificate may still have malware, viruses, malvertisements, phishing, and more. They don’t check to see if the website is secure.

Security Badges

What they do: As their name suggests, security badges show visitors that the site they’re on has purchased some kind of security protection—usually in the form of perimeter scanning as well as checking blacklists to make sure a site isn’t listed there.

How this is different: While these badges provide some layer of security for a site, often they’re not comprehensive. There are many types of vulnerabilities out there, and few security badges cover both perimeter scanning and a malicious links scan, for example (unlike, say, the McAfee SECURE trustmark).

The McAfee SECURE Trustmark


What they do: The trustmark certifies a website’s security apparatus—meaning phishing and malware lists are checked, the SSL certificate is up to date, payment card industry standards are met (if necessary), and, if we deem the site particularly at risk, the perimeter is scanned for vulnerabilities.

Most importantly, the end goal of the trustmark is to increase conversions by reassuring concerned consumers all while keeping them on your website.

What they don’t do: Unlike some of the above options, the trustmark is not just a badge, because the trustmark is interactive. What we mean by that is through either click-to-verify or by verifying off site, visitors have multiple ways to see if a site is safe to do business with.

Wrapping Up

Before you put anything on your site, keep in mind what message you’re sending your customers—and if that’s what you mean to be telling them. Over in 9 in 10 customers are worried about their online security—not shopping guarantees or your company’s privacy policy. That’s why we think marketing your security with a trustmark is the most profitable area to focus on.