BBB Dips a Toe in Answer-Box SEO, Highlighting Accredited Businesses

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Love it or hate it, the Better Business Bureau has long been an SEO powerhouse.  Though not splattered all over the local search results the way Yelp has been, the BBB often ranks well – both for broad search terms and when you search for a specific company by name.  It’s also become a prominent review site.

Now the BBB may piggyback off of Google’s increasing tendency to show “answer boxes”:

I find it interesting that that category page on the BBB doesn’t even rank #1.  It’s #4.  (Sometimes that’s the case with these answer-box results.)

No particularly fancy footwork in the source code, either.

The answer box + BBB lovechild doesn’t rank for many search terms yet (that I’ve seen), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t start popping up for more. The BBB recently redesigned its business pages, no doubt with local visibility in mind. Perhaps they also made tweaks to their category pages, too, which is what’s returning an answer box in Google in the above example.

As I’ve written before, there are several good reasons to consider holding your nose and getting accredited by the BBB.  This is another one.  Classic barnacle SEO.

For more on Google’s answer boxes, see the excellent post by Dr. Pete at Moz.

Are you seeing the BBB show up in Google with answer boxes?  How about answer boxes for other local directories?

Leave a comment!


  1. Did you know you can buy a BBB franchise? In the 90’s they were so corrupt that several franchise and business opportunity magazines printed stories on all the scams BBB franchises were pulling. They would intimidate business owners and help competitors ruin their competitors. The new electronic mafia is here. When we received their yearly bill, my bookkeeper would announce that we just received the extortion bill. We stopped paying over 20 years ago.

    • The BBB has its problems, for sure.

    • avatar Adrian Rey says

      It was one location, just the LA one in Southland and they were kicked out of the BBB. Better Business Bureau is a non profit an with all the consumer programs I’ve seen them involved in and how they help resolved issues with our government, DA or authority interference. BBB is a franchise, because if your town needs one they will set up, but they are still all governed under one council. There is no one that does what BBB does, nor is there an extortion going on. Businesses should support the BBB because its the right thing to do! BBB has no obligation when you join, so an extortion bill from a .ORG organization sounds very outlandish.

  2. Not seeing BBB there yet… but an interesting find Phil 🙂

  3. You’re batting .999 for great posts in 2016- but I have to disagree with you on this recommendation.

    Not a critical change from your previous post – BBB links are now no-follow ( and just about useless in terms of regular SEO.

    It doesn’t really score well with any of your other criteria for barnacle SEO.

    Accreditation is pretty expensive — it is based on the number of total (part-time and full-time employees) and runs from $500 per year to over $1000.

    And lets think about who you are supporting. “Through its investigation into the organization and its practices, CNNMoney found that the BBB’s rating system is seriously flawed — resulting in grades that appear to be arbitrary and change erratically.”

    With so many more palatable options – local chamber-of-commerce, local business associations, sponsorship of local schools and charities, etc. – there is just some backlinks not worth the negative karma (especially if they are no-follow anyways).

    • Phillip, I’m not a big fan of the BBB as an organization, either. As to the various SEO benefits (or the lack thereof, one might argue), let’s agree to disagree. That it’s “bad karma” or not “palatable” isn’t the point.

      Appreciate your compliments on my other posts, though 🙂

    • Also, some of the links are still followed. Just depends on the BBB chapter. (As you said, not that that’s a huge consideration.)

  4. Phillip, The CNN Money article is a great example of horrible journalism. They interviewed a disgruntled ex employee of a vender.. They criticize the BBB for paying their CEO’s an average paycheck.. Yes, the BBB pays their employees. They criticize the BBB for not taking complaint on medical practices.. The BBB does NOT take complaints on professional practices such as Doctors or a Lawyer. If you are upset at a Doctor and are still in pain, there is no employee at the BBB that has a medical degree or who is qualified to make a judgement on a medical complaint. That article is pretty dang stupid. Donald Trump proved in this years Presidential Debate that you CAN”T BUY a BBB grade.. Or else he would have with Trump U. The New York BBB did not except his bribe!

    • avatar Phillip Barnhart says

      This is not an isolated story.

      But this does not change the larger question for most SMBs – is this the best place to spend ad dollars? If you have a solid paid search campaign, an established local content marketing campaign, a local Facebook paid effort returning measurable results, a good relationship with local influencers, a good handle on major reputation management and review efforts, a working offline marketing effort, and have a $500-$1000 to spend – then the BBB may be a place to spend it. I work with 100+ small businesses, several of whom have BBB accreditation, and have never been able to measure any kind of impact, attribution, or benefit from the BBB.

  5. Phillip, as you probably know, there are some recent studies that show, that more SMB’s have a Facebook page than they do a website. Many SMB’s don’t have the money to spend on an agency to provide a paid search campaign. The BBB is not for everyone. Certain states such as Texas have little to no regulation/licensing in place for Roofers, Remodelers, Foundation Repair, so it is the ONLY resource in the state that actually does a background check on businesses. I can provide you many examples of shady contractors that advertising in Yelp and Angies List. BBB is a great way to market TRUST and show consumers that you meet a certain set of ethical standards. Most BBB provides their Accredited Businesses with Monthly Google Analytics reports.. So ask your SMB’s to provide that info to you.. That track how many clicks the BBB Business profile gets, how many clicks the Dynamic Seal gets, how many clicks from BBB website to SMB site, and how many leads each BBB got through out the year..

    • avatar Phillip Barnhart says

      Best friend is a roofing contractor here in Austin, two cousins are in foundation repair, and another good friend is a remodeling contract in Orlando.

      You are incorrect about checking on roofers, for example – I would really trust a factory-certified GAF Master Elite® Roofing Contractor that has their training and performance evaluated. At least in Austin, the BBB does not actively monitor bonding compliance while GAF does.

      You are really overselling the amount of work the BBB does on background checks. Per their own website ( “BBB accreditation does not mean that the business’s products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business’ product quality or competency in performing services.”

      If you could disclosing who you are and forward data, I would be happy to review any hard, factual data showing click tracks, conversions, and engagement statistics. You’ve piqued my curiosity so I’ve pinged my friends and clients with what reports they now get (they used to get pretty generic “call” stats and that was it)

      • Well, I would say GAF does check the BBB as well.. Also GAF does not actually take complaints.. But I would agree. GAF master Elite Roofing Contractors are typically very reputable!!

        • avatar Phillip Barnhart says

          Probably should take this thread elsewhere – but the question is not whether the BBB does anything positive for consumers. The question is — is this a wise advertising investment for an SMB. I see businesses spending money on BBB, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others without any sense of how to measure ROI. And spending money on these channels but not spending anything on local paid search, local organic SEO, local social media advertising, and a whole range of other channels with a much better, more measurable ROI. Got some numbers? Do you work with the BBB?

  6. … How many leads each SMB got through out the year, I meant..

  7. Phillip, since you mentioned a Roofer in Austin.. Let me give you a real example–

    Check out this press release–

    Ever wonder were many of the news stations get to connect the dots with names of victims/consumers of scams.? They do that via the BBB working with news media to warn consumers..

    Then you see this news story a few months later– All the time the BBB us used in Court Cases to go after bad businesses. -

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