Does the Hacker Safe Logo (or McAfee Secure Seal) Help or Hurt Conversion Rates? (Test results revealed…)

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trust.JPGUPDATE: After several more years of testing and some MAJOR changes with Hacker Safe (now the McAfee Secure Logo) I have updated testing data to share. Click Here to read the new post!

Building trust is a critical part of the online selling process. You can have a site with good usability, fantastic copy, a great product or offer and tons of highly targeted traffic, but if your visitors do not trust you or trust that their information is going to be secure in your hands they simply will not buy from you.

According to a recent report from Jupiter Research, assurances of security influence the purchasing decisions of 62% of online shoppers.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to build visitor trust online is by displaying third party logos and trust seals such as Better Business Bureau Online logos, SSL Certificate seals and privacy seals such as the TRUSTe seal.

reliabilityseal3.gif ssl.jpg clickseal.gif

Convincing potential buyers that their personal information and credit card data will be secure on your website is particularly important in the trust building process.

A January 2006 survey by IBM found that 70% of shoppers only use sites that display a security protection seal.

I’ve conducted hundreds of split and multivariate tests related to the display of trust seals and third party logos on e-commerce websites. And while in almost every case and in every test displaying SOME kind of trust seal or logo increased conversion rates, not all logos are created equal.

In fact there is one single logo that in all my tests consistently outperforms any other logo or trust seal you can put on your website.

This “Super Logo” I’m referring to is of course the Hacker Safe logo. (

HACKER SAFE certified sites prevent over 99.9% of hacker crime.

For the past two years I’ve been extensively testing this logo on my client’s websites, often with fantastic results.

For those of you who are not familiar with Hacker Safe, what their program basically does is, it scans merchant’s websites on a daily basis to identify potential security holes and vulnerabilities.

If no vulnerabilities are found during the daily scan the Hacker Safe logo shows up, if a vulnerability is found the merchant is alerted and if no corrective action is taken the logo is replaced by a transparent 1×1 pixel image. (Basically the logo just disappears.)

Now I’m often asked by clients when I suggest Hacker Safe, “Do they actually scan the website and make sure it secure? Or am I basically just paying to get to display the logo?

And as they find out quickly upon applying for Hacker Safe certification, the scan that is conducted is quite in-depth. In almost every instance, regardless of how effective a client or their web hosts security safeguards are, Hacker Safe finds multiple vulnerabilities that need to be patched before the merchant is allowed to display the logo.

But once their sites and servers are patched and secured, and the merchants are allowed to begin actually displaying the Hacker Safe Logo, the increase in sales and conversion rates can be quite surprising.

What Kind Of Improvement Can You Expect? (Test results shown below…)

On Hacker Safe’s website they claim that their internal tests show an average of a 14% boost in conversion rates for merchants displaying the logo.

My own test results (from dozens of separate tests) backup their claim. In the testing I’ve conducted on my own and my client’s websites the Hacker Safe logo improved conversion rates anywhere from 4.6% at the lowest to 18.9% at the highest.

Basically what that means is… for any website doing more than $1,000 a month in sales volume adding the Hacker Safe Logo will probably more than pay for itself.

Additionally I’ve tested the Hacker Safe Logo against other trusts seals and third party logos. And in each and every test the Hacker Safe logo beat all other logos when tested head-to-head.

For example in one test I conducted for an online retailer, we tested the Hacker Safe logo against the Better Business Bureau Online logo. The results were surprising…

  • Conversion Rate With NO Seals or Logos: 2.06%
  • Conversion Rate With ONLY BBB Online Logo: 2.15%
  • Conversion Rate With ONLY Hacker Safe Logo: 2.27%

So as you can see, the Hacker Safe logo boosted conversion rates 10.2% over having no logo or trust seal and it beat the BBB Online logo by 5.6% when tested head-to-head.

Now of course the ideal situation is to use multiple trust seals and logos on your website.

In the same test described above, there was a fourth version tested that produced the greatest improvement in conversion rates. That version included BOTH the Hacker Safe logo and the BBB Online logo.

Conversion Rate With BOTH BBB Online AND Hacker Safe Logos: 2.33%

So whenever possible you should try and use a combination of third-party logos and trust seals to get the greatest impact.

But if for some reason you decide to go with just one logo, the choice is clear… choose the Hacker Safe Logo.

Where You Put The Logo Can Make a Difference…

While simply displaying the Hacker Safe Logo anywhere on your website will usually result in a boost in conversion rates, in my testing I found several “sweet spot” locations that can give you the greatest impact.

These locations vary a bit depending on your particular websites design and purpose but here are some general rules of thumb to use when beginning to test logo placement on your particular website.

For multi-product online stores, one of the highest converting locations I found to display the logo is above the fold, either at or near the top of your side navigational menu or on the right-hand side of the page in the “header” area. (See examples of good placement below.)

hacker-pop004.jpg – Top Right in Header Area
(Click for larger image.)


hacker-pop004.jpg – Top of Left Nav Above The Fold
(Click for larger image.)


hacker-pop004.jpg – Top of Left Nav Above The Fold
(Click for larger image.)


For salesletter style websites I’ve found that placing the Hacker Safe logo in two positions seems to produce the highest response.

The first position is above the fold somewhere on the right-hand side. And the second position is near or just under your main call to action.

hacker-pop007.jpg – Near Top on Right Side
(Click for larger image.)


hacker-pop008.jpg – Near Top on Right Side
(Click for larger image.)


More Conversions AND More Traffic?

One added (an unexpected) side benefit that I and many of my clients have noticed from joining the Hacker Safe program is an increase in traffic.

Now it’s pretty obvious how displaying the Hacker Safe Logo can boost conversion rates. But how on earth can displaying the logo increase your traffic?

The answer is simple…

When you become approved to display the Hacker Safe logo, you are also given a free listing and link in the “Hacker Safe Sites” directory. While this link and listing will give you a little bit of traffic, the REAL traffic boost comes to you because almost every page within the Hacker Safe Sites Directory has a Google Page Rank of 7.

So simply by being in the directory you are getting a Page Rank 7 one way link to your website. The search engine optimization benefits of this single high PR link can be surprising.


The listings for 2 of my sites in the Hacker Safe Sites Directory
(Click for larger image.)

So if you’re not already using the Hacker Safe Logo I would strongly suggest that you at least give it a test on your site. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

(Simply go to for more information about the Hacker Safe program.)

Happy Testing!

Eric Graham,
“The Conversion Doctor”

P.S. – Internet Retailer Magazine reports that over half of the Internet TOP 500 merchants are now using the Hacker Safe Logo. With such wide spread (and growing) usage of the Hacker Safe Logo by top online retailers, pretty soon consumers may actually begin questioning the safety and security of websites that DO NOT display the logo.

P.P.S. – Keep an eye out for a special post tomorrow where I will share my single most POWERFUL tip for making your Hacker Safe logo maximize your conversion rates. NOBODY else is doing this, and so far I’ve only told ONE other person about this powerful trick (fellow testing fanatic and Hacker Safe user Michel Fortin.)

So stay tuned… You won’t want to miss it…

About the Author

Eric Graham is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, copywriter and consultant. Enter your name and email address below to get notified when new response boosting tips, tested conversion strategies, updates, articles and videos are posted.

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