As a matter of fact, not all directories are harmless.
It is important to list your business in human-edited directories; we even teach you how to do it correctly yourself. Directories are a great way to promote your company, improve your back links and gain exposure.
But watch out.
Some sound good but can suck hundreds of dollars out of your account in the blink of an eye.
I know enough about this stuff that I should have seen it coming, but if I can get swindled, it’s that much easier for a business that doesn’t understand what’s happening.
We teach you how to get the most out of free online business directories, but know that they are always after you to purchase their upgrades. In my view, it’s an unnecessary expense that you can hardly get out of. I don’t advocate paying for these upgrades and I know how to avoid the snares they set. Their free versions have a huge benefit, and their paid versions are often quite costly when you read the fine print.
Human-edited directories call or email you to confirm your information – and expect you to approve your inclusion. It’s all reputable.
But here’s where it can get confusing for many, and I can now include myself because I was ‘had.’
I was in the middle of several tasks, like anyone would be in the middle of the morning. Got a call from a directory ‘updating my listing.’ U.S. Directory no less. I’m listed in so many places that by memory alone I couldn’t possibly know if I had requested free inclusion there. It sounded like a place I may have submitted to, so I answered all of their very detailed questions for quite some time.
Eventually, this guy mentions that it will cost me $5.00 a month, and that I have to give him my credit card info to get started. Now, that made me pause. That was the first I realized that this was a sales call! I had him verify a ton of stuff. He emailed me. He gave me his supervisory credentials and I ended up thinking to myself, “What if this is a great, inexpensive idea that I could use for my clients? I’ll go ahead and check it out for $5.00 a month.”
So then he tells me that I’ll be getting trackable leads, and for that it will cost .25 for each lead that I get. I’m thinking, “Hmm, let’s see what that means. Paying clients are easily worth that. I’ll monitor this and see where it goes.”
One month passes. Got a five dollar charge. Another month passes, got another five dollar charge. I totally forgot about this thing.
On the third month, I was almost charged $400.00! My bank flagged it as unusual and left me a message that for some reason I didn’t get. Because the bill was flagged and it didn’t get paid, I got an email. Had I not received the email from U.S. Directory telling me that they paused my activity due to non-payment, I never would have known what they were trying to do.
I immediately went online to my account with U.S. Directory to see what was going on, only to find that they were claiming they had sent me over 1400 leads! Really? No one I spoke to had referred to them – and I ASK. I went into my Google Analytics and could easily see that was crap. They must have counted every robot that ever went into my site as a lead. None of my analytics tools can verify the leads they said they sent me!
Conveniently, their ‘trackable’ analytics were down. Go figure.
I’m not paying for that, and neither should you. I went to my bank to see what could be done, and we disabled that card so they couldn’t syphon any more money from my account. It bothered me all day. What if this had happened to a business owner whose bank wasn’t as protective and thorough as mine?
That’s a painful bite for anyone to take, for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I would have gladly paid that for 1400 leads! But it was completely fraudulent. It didn’t happen. How stupid to try that on someone who knows where to look to verify claims like that!
So beware, people. Not everyone sporting a great name is out there to help you. Some are downright predatory.
My advice? Ask at the onset of the call if the directory is paid or free. Many have free versions, and for the back link, that works. Paid versions will claim to post your business listing in premium locations on the search engines, charging nominal fees for leads. They didn’t send me any leads, folks. It was a big, fat, hairy lie. Run, don’t walk, away from any service that will fraudulently claim to send you leads for money.
You absolutely have to have your own analytics solutions.
Not all paid directories are dirty, but telling the difference is mighty hard to do. Do you have a similar experience? Warn others in the comments below.