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Diane Blackmore  |  09 August 2012, 05:33 PM
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Can online directories that charge justify their charges?


Some online business directories charge substantial fees for the same level of service as other directories. Should you believe the hype of the statistics that they regurgitate in their sales material? Let's break it down...

Online business directory 'Gopher' is among those charging the highest amounts for its business directory listings. Their entry level 'Bronze' listing starts at $595 + GST. Some of their 'statistics' are below (from an email 15/06/2012).

"When you list with Gopher.co.nz, you're using the power of the internet to get your business found. You'll also be joining in excess of 130,000 Kiwi businesses who have jumped on the path to success and are enjoying all the benefits of being with Gopher:
  • Over 850,000 people visited Gopher New Zealand to find the business, products and services they were looking for over the last 12 months up 105% on the year before!
  • Gopher New Zealand appeared in over 2.2 MILLION Google searches over the last MONTH a run rate of over 26.4 million searches per year!
  • Gopher customers benefited from over 840 MILLION Google & Facebook Ad Impressions over the last 12 months!"

Let's dissect this for a moment by looking at the claims individually.

Firstly - "Over 850,000 people visited... to find the business, products, services..." Yes, they may have visited Gopher. That's great - but did they find what they were looking for? Did they contact any businesses they found? Ie. Did they fill out the contact form or pick up the phone? Did they link through to that business' website? Visits on their own don't carry a sufficient weight if the conversion rate is practically nil.

Secondly - "Gopher appeared in over 2.2 million Google searches." Again, that's interesting, but it doesn't tell us anything of value. It's one thing to turn up in a search, but if they come up in page 4 or 5 of the results (or worse), there's about a 99.7% chance that the Google user isn't even going to get to that page, let alone click through the result.

Item three - "over 840 MILLION Google & Facebook Ad Impressions" Another superfluous statistic that means nothing. It doesn't matter how many 'impressions' there were if they can't demonstrate a click-through rate. The most they're doing is demonstrating that they're attempting to spread the word, but without knowing how many people actually read the ad (or saw it) and further, how many acted on that and went to the Gopher website, the statistic is meaningless. How do we even know that the right people in the right markets were being exposed? And the ad was for Gopher, not any specific listing so that exposure works for the Gopher brand, but not your specific business.

If they did click through, search Gopher and find your listing, is there really any more information there (as provided in a Bronze, Silver or Gold listing) than any other free directory? The answer, in our opinion, is no. 

We would strongly suggest you do your own search for your industry sector, imagining that you're a potential customer and using keywords that they would use. The search results will vary continuously, but you can be sure that lots of websites in competition to your business will come up ahead of business directories.

We advocate the use of online business directories to help your search engine rankings, so we're not suggesting that you don't use them. Quite the opposite - every business directory 'page' that you create by adding yourself to those directories creates links back to your website. The more links from valid sources that you have back to your website, the higher the importance Google will attribute to your website.

However, there are plenty of free business directories that appear well before any Gopher results - Directories such as Google Local Business, Finda, Zenbu, HotFrog, Yalwa, Tuugo and many others all perform well and are free. Yellow may cost you more than Gopher, but it's brand is established and still relatively entrenched in the minds of anyone over age 25 as the place to go when you want a directory. The product offerings aren't directly comparable, but the brand value of Yellow already gives it a substantial advantage over Gopher.

If you're considering increasing your online marketing investment in order to make your website the valuable marketing tool that it can be, make sure you look at the statistics from an impartial perspective - and question everything. Do your own homework and searches before you commit dollars to any campaign.




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