For years, the popular local search website Citysearch has offered free business listings to anyone with a business who wants to get more local exposure. Now, Matt McGee of Small Business Search Marketing has written a blog post suggesting that Citysearch has done away with free business listings. If so, is that a mistake?
I understand the desire for businesses to want to make more money. Don’t we all? But any business that acts as a directory or resource for others must understand two things about site visitor behavior:
- Users won’t necessarily pay for something unless they can get a good feeling about you and learn to trust you
- Just because you exist doesn’t mean they will visit you
Citysearch has a solid reputation in the local search niche. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But many small businesses still making their first steps into online marketing will want to test the waters of any site before giving them any money. The best way to test a site like Citysearch is with a free listing.
Free listings do two things. First, the build trust among a class of small business owner who needs to move slowly and test drive your offerings before shelling out dollars on them. And secondly, they provide your website with additional content, which is great for search engine listings and more exposure.
The second benefit is yours. Why take it away? I see no clear reason because while it may not translate into direct dollars today it does have value and that value could translate into direct dollars another day. If Citysearch really did kill its free business listings then it could prove to be a blunder on a large scale.