A friend of mine asked me to review their platform on a third-party directory site this week, stating that the site drives quite a bit of traffic to other vendors in the industry. I did a quick analysis of the directory site and it's true, they have earned some solid rankings in my friend's industry. It seems only logical that they should solicit reviews to get better visibility in the directory.
Or is it?
The directory isn't a small site, it's enormous. It has great search engine rankings, a development staff, social media marketing engagement, and even a paid advertising budget. Because its traffic is so heavy and it can drive so many relevant viewers to platforms, it also has an internal paid advertising system where my friend can purchase a more prominent profile or display ads on relevant pages.
What's the prospect journey?
- The directory is found in search engines for relevant keywords associated with the platform.
- The search engine user clicks on the directory where they find your platform adjacent to all of your competition.
- A few search engine users click-through to your company. Many are lost to your competitors, especially if they have a larger advertising budget within the directory.
Here's the problem with this journey… it's not the platform's friend, it's their competitor. The platform is purposely stopping your prospects, diverting them to their site, so that the audience is monetized there. You promote the directory to your users to place reviews – which they do – which improves the search ranking of the directory. At which point, it drives itself deeper between you and your prospects. You're now dependent on the directory to feed your business.
What's the alternative?
- You build a robust online presence, ranking better than the directory.
- Prospects ignore the directory and go directly to your content, never presented the competition.
- Your relevant, compelling content entices the visitor to become a lead, lead to a customer.
That directory has no better chance at beating you in search engine results than you do, why would you help them? Why would you pay them, support their site, and in the meantime, they're assisting your competitors? It would be like someone standing in front of your store, touring the prospect around the block to your competitors, and then asking you to pay them in order to ensure they bring them back to your store. You'd kick them off your doorstep, right?
You should look at any organic resource as both a friend and competitor. Of course, they may have the opportunity to drive incredible traffic to you. But it's at your cost. You need to determine whether or not you are okay with that dependence and willing to continue paying for access to their audience.
I wouldn't. And I didn't write the review for my friend's platform.