Just like many business owners doing SEO have been in the dark about their SEO working in the past, online directories and paid placement on websites are another tough one to decipher at times, even with the dashboards and “reports” that are sent. There are directories (especially in the legal realm) that salespeople will persistently pitch as being the “end all be all” for your marketing and could be the single most important marketing tool you need for lead generation. I’ve been a pretty big proponent of directories myself over the years, and have paid for placement for numerous clients because of their decent return on investment. But directories are far from being the source of all your leads – they are only one piece of the puzzle. It is not uncommon for me to place a client on multiple directories at once and then measure their progress after a few months. To do that successfully, you’ll need to employ a few tactics which I will explain in this blog.
First, let’s confirm what a directory and paid placement is within the context of this blog. A directory is any aggregation of links to businesses online that assist in a consumer finding services/products they are seeking, essentially websites like YellowPages online (or YP.com itself). These directories either drive traffic by people being widely familiar with their brand (this is how YP and Dex would typically get traffic) or that their website is well optimized for keywords to come up when a typical query for (city)(service/product) is provided (this is how Thumbtack and legal directories like FindLaw, Avvo come up). Others like Yelp will successfully appear when people take both routes. Now, paid placement is your monetary investment to position yourself within these directories. Essentially you are acknowledging that the directory has enough online visibility for your industry and you want to be a part of it, getting in front of people as they travel to that site looking for businesses like yours.
Though paid placements on directories/websites are among the most straightforward online marketing ventures you can take (you pay X, and you will be seen Y), they are also among the most involved to negotiate, if you wanted to. How complicated could it get? Keep in mind these reasons could be the fundamental reasons that your paid placement ventures aren’t working:
Considerations for Paid Placement
- Contract length
- Do you have a position that “rotates”, meaning you share 5 top spots with 4 other people and no one is constantly positioned first? YP does this.
- Do you get a full profile, meaning website URL, pictures, bio, business hours, and anything else you can take advantage of to make a profile that sets you apart?
- What exactly your territory is – for example, a directory may say “Fort Lauderdale Metro” but it is as far south as Aventura, west as Weston, and north as West Palm Beach, which let’s say is roughly 900 square miles of coverage. Or you could have “Fort Lauderdale Metro” which is actually just misleading and is Fort Lauderdale clocking in at 38.57 miles. Yep, quite the difference if not specified.
- Does your arrangement goes by impressions, which basically stinks? This means you will pay for a finite amount of impressions on the placement (typically 10,000) and once you’re seeing 10,000 times that month, you disappear until the impressions are refilled the next month. I hate this arrangement because you literally cannot gauge the true number of impressions you are getting on your side. You have no choice but to trust the directory when they say you hit the quota.
- Are you getting placement for the general products/services you do and not the hyper niche, which are likely to get minimal traction? If you’re a back surgeon, you wouldn’t get too excited about a “endoscopic foraminotomy” placement.
Quick Tips on Negotiating
Salespeople are pretty aggressive for directories (yes a bit more than other marketing avenues). They will say the inventory is limited, one spot just opened up and it won’t last long! It is the end of the month and we can go a bit lower on the cost, “gotta hit my quota”. You can basically dismiss all of this. What you should do is the following:
- Attempt to bundle multiple services and territories to save money
- Cut contract down to 3 months as “trial run”
- Have a clause that says you can exit contract if the directory takes a hit from traffic because of Google adjustments
- Only take a paid placement on a site someone will see
- Request concise and precise reporting
- Be vigilant about how they do their tracking
- Only take a profile that links to your website
We’re finally at the blog title after prefacing the world of directories and how you can be a part of them. So you’re on a directory for several months now and your account rep is raving about all the traffic you’re getting. But what do you really care about? Literally one thing: did it generate leads for you. If your reports are how many people saw your profile, clicked your Facebook links, read your bio, bookmarked your page, you should not care. You need to know definitively how many people called/emailed from your profile. It is also still helpful to know how many went to your website from the directory, because they may have potentially contacted you from there too.
The main ways you can keep track of if your directory placement is working is:
- If you have a tracking number on the directory (whether you have your own or they provide)
- If they email you from your profile and you know it came from the directory
- If you can cross-reference their report data with your analytics – for example, they claim 12 people came to your website last month from the directory, and your analytics referral traffic says 12 visitors came from the directory last month. There is no reasons they shouldn’t sync and if they don’t, you have an issue.
- Asking how the potential client found you on the phone. Most of the time they’ll say “Google” or “the Internet” but you may get lucky with a few.
- Ultimately, a directory is working if you are getting leads that convert and the conversions are covering the investment at least two-fold.
Keep in mind you’ll have to put effort into the profile to increase the likelihood of leads, like pictures, case results, something genuine about yourself in the bio, experience, educations etc.
Nothing is going to be a better representation of you than your website, but a directory can be a solid additional means of being found online by consumers.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding SEO, AdWords, or any other digital marketing aspect, feel free to contact us today. Market My Market is a full-service digital marketing agency that works to give our clients marketing solutions. We’re eager to take your business to the next level. Contact our office at (800) 954-9441 to learn more about us and receive a free service quote!