Does this look familiar? I bet that’s why you’re here: you’ve seen that often, when you search for local plumbers in your city, directory sites like HomeAdvisor, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others are near the top of the page.
So now you’re wondering: Should I be investing in directory site listings? Unfortunately, the best answer isn’t so straightforward. The short answer is “yes,” but there’s a huge qualifier that addresses the hidden cost of investing in directory sites. I’ll first walk you through the best practices for listing your plumbing company in an online directory, and then I’ll show you what you need to consider before making the plunge into that investment.
Directory Site Listing Best Practices for Your Plumbing Company
Before you decide to list on any particular directory, ask yourself the following questions:
How much traffic does this directory receive? Consider, too, if this traffic is relevant to your company.
Are my competitors using this directory? Check if your competitors are receiving many reviews, and consider why that may or may not be the case. It may be that their profile is not optimized properly and is not showing up in search engine results, or perhaps the audience for this directory is not relevant to your customers. Whatever the case may be, learn from your competitors’ listings. Are they using it well?
How many sales do I need to generate to recoup my investment? Make sure you track your results with a third party vendor, and don’t rely solely on the free tools provided by the directories. Those are sales tools, and what that directory considers to be a lead may not be what you consider to be a lead.
Is this site’s user experience going to help or hurt my business? If a site is poorly laid out and information is difficult to find, a user may pass over your listing on that particular directory and even in another search setting because it is associated with a presence that seems unprofessional or disreputable.
How does this directory get traffic? If it’s through Google or another search engine, this is a very important point to consider. By investing in a listing, you are increasing another site’s resources, while taking away from your most important lead-generating asset: your own website. If the directory site takes the resources you gave it on a larger SEO or PPC budget, you’re creating a stronger competitor for yourself. This is one of the hidden costs of investing in directory sites that I will address in more detail below.
Which Online Directory Could Benefit my Plumbing Company?
Yelp is one of the most popular directory sites due to its easy-to-use mobile app and its focus on reviews. A large amount of positive reviews is important for ranking well on directories and in search engine results, as well, so being found on a site that focuses on reviews can be helpful.
To optimize your profile so that it stands out above competitors, ranks well in search results, and generates qualified leads, you should:
Fill out your entire profile with complete and relevant information
Encourage your customers to leave reviews
Respond to every review (even bad ones. Yelp users can update their initial review!)
Make discounts and specials available to customers
Angie’s List is also a customer review based search engine that only paying members can access for a yearly fee. On the site users can browse business profiles of home service providers like you!
Unlike homeowners, businesses don’t need to pay to use Angie’s List. For this reason, we recommend that you create a profile to get listed. To make the most of your listing:
Cultivate and maintain an optimized profile
Generate positive reviews to receive an “A” rating
Offer customers discounts and specials
HomeAdvisor is designed to automatically connect homeowners with prescreened professionals who offer specific services. To maximize your listing’s lead generating potential:
Ask customers to leave reviews
Completely fill out your profile with all your information
Showcase your HomeAdvisor “achievements”
Allow your potential customers to schedule appointments online to make the decision to hire you quick and easy
Using Directories for Plumbing SEO
In the short-term, using directories to maximize your web presence can be effective. Benefits of using directories for search engine optimization include improving your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack and being seen by users of those directories.
However, as I mentioned before, there is a large hidden cost to investing in directory sites: you take resources away from your own website and create a strong competitor. When you use a directory site, you essentially “rent” access to its audience. This means that you are at that directory’s mercy if you become dependent on their leads as your major source of revenue; they can essentially charge you whatever they want in the future, and can change the rules of their game at any moment they choose. Additionally, you have no control over your web presence if Google’s algorithm changes and that directory’s listings no longer show up in search results. Finally, when you pay for their leads, you don’t always know how they received each lead, or how many other companies are also receiving the same leads. Use extreme caution and thoroughness when evaluating which directory sites to use.
So What’s a Better Alternative?
The most effective and affordable long term strategy is to invest in your own in-house assets, like a website, opt-in email newsletter, and optimized social media sites that you have complete control over, will be yours for perpetuity, and will increase in value yet decrease in cost over time as you build equity in them.
If managing all of these options seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is! Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Do what you do best, manage your plumbing company, and let Blue Corona handle every aspect of digital marketing on your behalf as your virtual online marketing manager!
About The Author: Jenny is a content marketing specialist at Blue Corona. When she's not helping her clients grow their businesses through the web, she likes listening to podcasts and trying new (and sometimes strange) sandwich combinations.
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“I used to get a couple form submissions a year—and it was all spam. Now, we’re getting leads—and they’re qualified! You can find an SEO company anywhere. With Blue Corona, you get an account rep that’s there for you. I know there’s somebody looking out for our website and helping us grow. ”