In a move that hasn’t attracted a lot of attention online, Angie’s List followed through on their March announcement and removed their paywall last week. Anyone can now become a member without paying the previous ~$40/year fee, and reviews are now accessible by anyone. This change, which did fly under the radar, does have strong implications for the online reputations of many businesses.
Angie’s List has always done well in the home services market: think plumbing, landscaping, HVAC, roofing, concrete and the like. And while Angie’s List did have an impact on their reputations, less than one percent of the US population were members, which meant the vast majority of people couldn’t see the rating or reviews posted on a company profile. Unlike Yelp, businesses could get by with bad Angie’s List scores and negative reviews because a lot of people couldn’t see them. Now, everyone can.
The tearing down of the Angie’s List paywall is a game-changer for these service providers. Here is what you need to know.
1. It is going to rank better for company names
Content, content, content. Angie’s List has it. Angie Hicks, the site’s CMO and namesake, has credited the success of the website to the fact that members “tend to give really meaty reviews.” The depth of these reviews is why people sought out info on potential contractors there. And now, with the site opening up, these meaty reviews will add value in another way: rankings.
It has always surprised me that Angie’s List ranked fairly well for businesses despite providing little more than NAP information on the publicly accessible page. The domain is strong and trusted, and now with it having deep review content, we can expect it to climb in the SERPs. If you don’t have a strategy to get positive reviews on Angie’s List, you need to start building one.
2. Your monitoring tools might not work on it
If you use a review monitoring tool, there is a good chance that it is not able to pull in your Angie’s List reviews. Because their content lived behind a paywall, they’ve resisted creating an API which would free up access for developers to get at the review and rating data. What this means is that the review platforms can’t pull your Angie’s List data in.
What you’ll want to make sure you do is claim your profile so that you are notified of any new reviews. Claiming will also make it easy for you to respond to reviews. Additionally, for our clients, we always save a copy of reviews as they come in, just in case the user deletes or edits their reviews. Having the original review has come in handy for disputes, so it is a best practice to save them.
3. More markets and industries are likely to follow
In the same way that Yelp started out with restaurants and has expanded into many other consumer businesses, we can expect that Angie’s List will try to grow into other markets as well. Angie’s List is a publicly traded company and is trading 75 percent lower than it was just three years ago, so management is definitely under pressure. Making the platform free is a drastic change, but likely just step one. They need to increase revenue, and that comes from page views. They can get that by covering more types of businesses.
I’m not expecting Angie’s List to become a restaurant review site (although anything is possible), but I could certainly see it getting into the health care space, B2B reviews and maybe even software/SaaS reviews.
Time will tell how this all shakes out, but we are fully preparing to work on Angie’s List in the same way that we help our clients with Yelp and Google Reviews. I can’t see their rankings declining, and with their meaty reviews, they are bound to have a larger impact on the reputations of many businesses.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.