How to tell a site is reputable or not?

I get asked every now and then if a new online shopping site is reputable or not. As there is no magic way to determine this I have written up these pointers to help you do the same.  Now please I am not responsible for any mistakes in ordering from a site that seems legit and then turns out to be fraudulent!

I’m trying to look at the following things:

  1. Do a google search for the domain name together with one of the following words added: reliable, reputable, fraud, scam etc. This might bring up a few experiences, check some links to determine that these experiences are genuine (not written by a competitor for example).
  2. Search for the domain name on the Web Of Trust and TrustPilot. Don’t just look at the figures, look at the comments, so these seem genuine (have they been written with due care and attention and proper punctuation etc)?
  3. View the incoming links for the domain, using Alexa. Are these from genuine sites or things like link directories where people can add their sites just to get higher in the search results.
  4. All reputable shops will use social networking for marketing purposes. Check their Twitter replies and Facebook wall comments for happy / unhappy customers.
  5. If you know of a community that discusses the subject matter, search there too. They will probably have determined whether or not the site can be trusted.
  6. If you are still unsure, attempt a trial checkout and see if the website supports reputable external payment options. If your payment details are not stored with the website then they are safe in the event of a hack / security breach.
From the resources above you will get a general gist of any major issues. Feel free to get in touch with any of your tips.

September 27, 2011 at 4:31 PM in Web