Should You Pay to List on Websites?

Online AdvertisingI originally wrote this article in August 2009 on my business website, but thought it would be a good topic to bring up again as online advertising is a regular concern for clients.

Time and time again businesses get emailed with some sort of offer to list on a website to promote their themselves with promises of better search engine rankings and increased website traffic.

My mantra when it comes to this decision is to only pay upfront for a listing which meets the following criteria:

  • It is a well known and quality website relevant to your industry or target market.
  • It provides a link back to your website.
  • It can provide you with it’s monthly web statistics (unique browser visits and page visits) to measure it’s effectiveness.
  • It ranks highly in search engine results for your business categories.
  • It provides good value for money i.e. the upfront cost is not over the top and realistic for the profile it has and the content it allows you to add.

Know Your Stats!

For any listings you already pay for make sure you can track the traffic sources for your website through tools like Google Analytics, that way when it comes to decide whether to renew any listing you can find out how much traffic you’ve received and work out stats like the cost per click.

There’s a lot of value in checking and knowing your web statistics and traffic sources regularly. Free listings are the way to go for the bulk of your online listings, but there will be a selection of sites that are worth the money if they can give you quality website traffic.

7 Comments

  1. Go Country NZ September 27, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    Excellent article, thoroughly agree with most of what was said and endorse it fully.

    My only comment as food for thought would be that maybe rather than simply sites that rank well in your category (your site should already be capturing this niche) what should be considered is does the site rank well accross a wide range of categories.

    Similar to a mall concept all businesses should be looking for both top profile and cross pollination. In other words as well as being right alongside your competitor you should also be alongside complimentary businesses.

    Food for thought!

  2. John Owens September 27, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Excellent article, Michelle.

    The fundamental question that I get clients to address is, “Why would you list your website on another website?” There are several good reasons why they should.

    Getting Inbound Links
    This will help with Google rankings – but only if the linking site has “relevance” – Google would not value a link from a scrap dealer to a motel. It will be even more helpful if you have control over the “anchor text” used in the link and make sure it contains a good keyword phrase, not just “click here”.

    Marketing Leverage
    Listing a Business, such as a motel, on sites like Jason’s and AA exposes it to a wider market. Many people go directly to these sites to book accommodation and a business can increase, or “leverage”, its marketing reach through such sites. But do make sure that you have a link back to your own website as well as this will also help with Google ranking.

    When my clients ask, “Should I pay for a listing?” My reply is, “Only if it is going to bring you back more money than you spend.” As a rough rule I get them to align it with their marketing budget. So, if their marketing budget is 10% of their turnover, then if they are going to spend $100 for a listing, they should be confident that the listing will bring them at least $1000 of extra business.

    With Social Media and Blogging there are now many other ways in which to achieve high quality inbound links and I can foresee many of the less effective directorys disappearing.

    Regards
    John

  3. rosemary neave September 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    good article michelle.

    I think sometimes we are being asked to invest in a company rather than pay for a service. I think it should be measurable what the benefits are.

    I started Women Travel NZ http://www.womentravel.co.nz 10 years ago and it is a good value site for those who focus on women travellers. I guarantee the listing – if you pay one year and don’t think you have had value from it, you can have a half price or complimentary listing.

    Started Women travel the World http://www.womentravel.info two years ago, and continue to offer free listings until the hits and listings get REAL and TANGIBLE benefit from it.

    • Michelle Ackers September 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

      Good to see a realistic attitude towards listing costs in relation to value added from your websites Rosemary – no doubt valuable resources for your target market and the operators.

  4. Gaye Miller September 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    I agree an excellent article and agree with John Owens response.

    However I feel that websites should do more than just sit there waiting for people to come to them.

    At http://www.kidsfriendlytravel.com we talk to those families – not just via newsletters and social media but also face to face.

    Our company is always looking at places to get articles published to promote not only our site but give value to those that read the articles.

    As a result of that our company will be writing for the family parenting magazine “Kiwi Parents”. That is getting us in front of 44,000 families every couple of months!

    So when someone is weighing up whether to list on a site I feel they need to look at all of the above and also beyond just the site stats.

    Websites have to do more like companies such as the AA which actively promotes New Zealand (and itself). It is about getting out in front of potential users of the site the old fashion way and promoting not only the website but also New Zealand.

    Because at the end of the day they are not coming to our site because “it’s a travel site” they are coming because they want to expereince an awesome family holiday in New Zealand!

    So yes I agree if you are paying for a website it needs to be activitly promoting the businesses it has on it and giving value to them as well.

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