Are you one of the countless small business owners who pay a directory like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, or Thumbtack? We don’t blame you. When you’re actively using them, paid directory services can be super helpful in producing leads for your company. Because you’re getting leads on a somewhat regular basis, some business owners make the mistake of only using a directory. They never end up investing in any other form of web presence, like their own website. Unfortunately, not owning any type of permanent platform for your business outside of a paid directory is a bad move. One listing that’s essentially a landing page is simply not enough to sustain your business’s online marketing needs. Here’s why.
There’s No Other Way to Find You
If your HomeAdvisor listing is the only place someone can find you online, then you’re literally paying for any lead coming from the web. It’s fine to pay for customers who discover your business for the first time on the directory. But what about those customers who already know about you? They google your business name to find your website, but all they can find is your HomeAdvisor listing. So they call you via your listing, and you end up paying for this lead—a lead you would have gotten on your own anyway. Doesn’t it make more sense to have a permanent place (your own website) where people can find you outside of that one directory? Otherwise, you’ll be stuck paying for all of your leads until whenever you end your enrollment—which begs the question: Then what?
You’re Stranded If You Quit
When you end your working relationship with an online directory, one of two things will happen:
- The directory takes down your listing, OR
- The directory leaves your listing up
Neither of these scenarios is great if your paid directory listing is your business’s only online platform. If your listing is taken down completely, then there won’t be a trace of your business anywhere online. Obviously, this is a problem because you want prospective customers to be able to find you when they’re searching for your services. On the other hand, if the directory leaves your listing up, then your business will continue to attract prospective customers. However, because you no longer pay for the directory’s services, leads from your listing won’t actually come to you anymore. Instead, they’ll be forwarded straight to your local competitors. This is an extension of the typical directory model, which is to send incoming leads to multiple businesses at the same time and essentially have them compete for the job. So if you end your program and are no longer paying for leads, the directory will just forward your leads to other businesses in the same location and category as you. The only difference is that you no longer get the opportunity to compete for the job! To sum it up: When a paid directory service is your only web presence, and then you eventually quit that program, you’re left with no presence at all or one that only helps your competitors.
Your Own Website Gives You Control
We want to be clear: There’s nothing wrong with using a paid directory service like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Porch, and so on. Lots of businesses have great success with these types of services. However, you must have your own website outside of the directory service. Owning a website means you have full control over all the information you put out there. Plus, you don’t need to pay anyone else for leads that come from basic Google searches for your services and/or business name. Additionally, a website allows you to branch out and expand your online marketing to other, free directories like Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch, Google Places, and Bing Local. You can link to your own website from your listings on these directories and increase your overall web visibility that way. The bottom line? Don’t put all of your eggs in the paid directory basket. Make sure you own your web presence outside of paid directory services so you can control your own destiny.