Also want to plug this awesome recap of HomeAdvisor's online rebranding: How One Brand Switched A Million URLs & Lived To Tell About It: 5 Questions With HomeAdvisor.com from Search Engine Land's Amy Gesenhues.
Original blog post date 8/16/12, with minor updates made 9/12/13:
Local search internet marketing is driven by accuracy of many disparate business listings databases. Search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo use these databases to validate what's referred to as the NAP in local search parlance (Name, Address, Phone number) for a given business. Therefore local search consultants spend a great deal of time examining consistency across these databases for these key data points. The main lesson here - consistency is good, inconsistency is bad.
For local service contractors looking to get found online, HomeAdvisor (formerly Service Magic) provides a shortcut to bridge the offline & online worlds of lead generation. HomeAdvisor is part of a conglomerate named IAC, which runs a host of online brands such as Citysearch, Newsweek, Ask.com, Dictionary.com, Match.com, Urbanspoon & Vimeo.
So far so good, you may be thinking. Business data collected and distributed by a large, diverse business on behalf of small businesses could provide the kind of leverage a small business needs to get found. HomeAdvisor syndicates the listings data both within it's corporate umbrella (Citysearch, Merchant Circle, Insider Pages), and also outside to online directories such as White Pages, Switchboard and more.
There's a problem though with this line of thought - HomeAdvisor masks the local telephone numbers of local contractors. Instead they replace the number with another local telephone number that routes to a HomeAdvisor call center, where HomeAdvisor then sends the lead to a number of contractors simultaneously. What ensues is a feeding frenzy of sorts - the prospective customer saves time & effort by relying on HomeAdvisor to play matchmaker with businesses that are hungry for the work.
This presents a dilemma for contractors and local search consultants alike - Do you attempt to wrestle the listings away from HomeAdvisor and repopulate with direct contact info? Or do we reach a point of diminishing returns, and it's just wiser to leave HomeAdvisor branded listings "as-is"?
I'm looking for some input from local search consultants on their general sentiment on HomeAdvisor's business listing tactics.
To give an example, here's a friend that actively uses HomeAdvisor - Justified Electrical Services, LLC in Nottingham, MD. Most data provider & search engine listings for Justified have been claimed, corrected & optimized (see at Google). However there's still this corner of the web (HomeAdvisor's data partners) that lists the call center number.
Should we just continue correcting HomeAdvisor listings with the real local phone number? We've got two reasons to consider pausing:
A) HomeAdvisor has the bulk of their business reviews (and they're overwhelmingly good!) Some of the data partners show ratings as well. So there could be downside to getting NAP right - potentially undoing the record that showcases the good ratings.
B) Concern that future data refresh activity from HomeAdvisor will overwrite corrections made in downstream directories. Don't have any evidence that this occurs, but figured it's a possibility. We've already seen bad data find it's way back into Google Places from who knows where.
Furthermore, is there any indication that Google's algorithm is built to discount HomeAdvisor s tactics, essentially giving the business owner a free pass on these listings? This is probably wishful thinking on my part - everything I see indicates that call tracking numbers are bad news for local listings results.
Insights welcomed - though if your only contribution is "HomeAdvisor sucks" please leave that somewhere else. I'm looking for productive comments only.
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