Should You Pay for Premium Listings on Directory Sites?

Carmen Rane HudsonSmall Business SEO

Free directory listings are an easy way to build citations so you can boost your Google+ Local ranking. When you sign up, however, you can expect to be bombarded with advertisements, e-mails, and sales calls which encourage you to sign up for paid, “premium” listings.

This of course begs the question of whether or not the premium listings are a good investment. Every business is different, of course, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

Know Your Purpose and Your Customers

If you’re using the directory listing just to create a citation then the paid listing rarely makes sense. The citation counts, even if it’s dropped to the 100th position out of 100 listings.

It also helps to know the extent to which your customers use the directory. If you know that you’re getting a lot of clicks from Angie’s List then taking the paid option might give you a good ROI.

If you are in a profession where there is a prestigious or famous vertical directory for your business that people know of and routinely go to, and you have the money to spend, it can’t hurt. Lawyers.com would be one example.

Some deals are also just too good to pass up. If your business serves a lot of elderly clients then the $10 per month that it takes to gain a premium listing on Yahoo.com, old school as it may seem, may just be worth it, as Phil Rozek mentioned over on the Catalyst Local eMarketing Forum.

Be Prepared for Headaches

Paid directory listings come with a lot of headaches. They all seem to staff their offices with hyper-aggressive salespeople who don’t know when to leave their prospects alone.

There are only so many times you can take a call about adding, upgrading, or renewing your listing before it starts to cut into your business time. Ironically, the amount of customer service rarely seems to match up to the sales effort. As soon as there’s a problem you can typically expect the amount of attention that you receive to evaporate into uselessness.

What’s more, the results you receive rarely live up to the promises made or the prices paid. You can easily see this if you maintain your own analytics. Often the directory site will provide figures on impressions and clicks that seem strangely inflated when compared to your own figures.

The Mind of the Customer

The customer simply doesn’t care if your listing is paid or free. The customer wants to find what the customer needs.

Sometimes the paid position can even work against you a little bit. I personally don’t trust premium listings if I know for a fact they are premium listings.

That means finding ways to get more positive reviews is usually a far more productive use of your time, energy, and money than paying for a directory listing. Incidentally, getting more reviews will have a positive impact on your position in the rankings, too.

Bottom line? In 99% of all cases premium listings just aren’t worth the bother.