Amazon Home Services for Local Businesses: the Ins and Outs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/formatc1/4130309782/

I’ve wanted to write about “Amazon Local SEO” for a while now.  I had it planned out.  But then last year Amazon retired their daily-deals program, at which point 50% of my content became about as timely and relevant as MTV.  Oh well.

But the other part I wanted to write about was Amazon Home Services, which is relevant to your local visibility if you’re a contractor, and it’s a program that seems to be expanding.

Yours Truly had procrastinated for only about 2 months when Corey Barnett of Cleverly Engaged sent me some good lab notes (as he did last year).  His observations and insights impressed me, so I decided to accept a guest-post on this blog for only the 2nd time in the last half-decade of blogging.  (Colan Nielsen put together a mean quiz here 3 years ago.)

If you’re in the home-improvement space, you’ll benefit from these pointers on Amazon Home Services.  Here’s Corey:

Search results have become more crowded in recent years. National brands have earned more SERP real estate, often at the expense of local businesses. Even competitors to Google’s model (Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.) received increased visibility in 2015 as reported by Search Engine Journal.

The fundamentals have also changed, like with all seven packs decreasing to 3-packs. Sure, free directories are still very visible for many local terms: Yelp, Yellowpages, and recent entrants, Groupon, Houzz and Facebook.

Yet more paid lead-referral networks are starting up and gaining traction online, especially in specific industries. The auto industry has RepairPal, MechanicAdvisor, OpenBay and others. And the home services industry? Quite a few, including HomeAdvisor (previously ServiceMagic), Lowe’s Porch.com, Home Depot’s RedBeacon, Thumbtack, Adopt a Contractor – and Amazon Home Services.

I’ve dealt with Amazon Home Services for some clients, and here’s what I’ve observed:

1.  Amazon Home Services Is Still a New Kid on the Block

So new is Amazon Home Services, that the network appears quite empty for some services in large Metropolitan areas. The service launched in March of 2015. On their page, Amazon reveals which cities have a high number of services.

However, a simple search for HVAC services in Dallas only brought up a handful of providers. There were only about 20 service professionals either in the city of Dallas or that mentioned Dallas in their profile for all home services on Amazon.

(To research in your own city and avoid submitting a quote, do a search in Google like the one above.)

One of the HVAC contractors listed had 6 Amazon reviews and revealed they have had about fifty customers from the platform in the last year.

2.  But It Has High Standards for Acceptance

Unlike other lead networks, there isn’t a sales team that pesters you into an application. The email used throughout the application process – selling-services@amazon.com – doesn’t even seem to be managed by a live person. On top of that, there isn’t a phone number for potential pros to ask questions.

One requirement that scared away a few of my clients were background checks. The background checks don’t need to include every employee, only those responding to Amazon requests.

Yet the most frequent cause of denials is reviews. Within the application process, Amazon asks for links to 3rd party reviews. They give examples to Yelp and HomeAdvisor, which is odd because HomeAdvisor is a competitor and another paid lead referral platform.

Above is an example of a denial, which is often the result of poor online reviews. Having experienced both clients getting approved and denied, here are some insights.

Yelp is heavily scrutinized. You can include reviews to Google, Angie’s List and other platforms in the application, but they will look at Yelp regardless. For example, I worked with a fence contractor earlier this year on the application. They have hundreds of positive reviews on YellowPages, Angie’s List and Google. Google alone has close to 50 five star reviews. Yelp has always been troublesome for their business and they have a neutral to negative reputation from only 3 Yelpers. Needless to say, they were denied, with Amazon citing reviews as the reason.

Another client I worked with was in a smaller market: Lubbock, TX. Despite a neutral to positive reputation online and the highest rating of any Lubbock company in their industry, they were denied. This was truly odd, considering Lubbock only has 1 approved service provider.

Amazon is apparently willing to sacrifice revenue, denying a service provider that would be first in their category for a market.

3.  The Catch: You Pay a Referral Fee

The actual cost of paying Amazon for the lead varies, depending on your service. It’s best to educate yourself on their website.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/protohiro/3847864550/

4.  More Services Appear to Be on the Way

If you take a look at the application process, many more services are available than are currently on the website. Some border on the truly bizarre and specific including: Sommelier, Rubbish Hauler, Misting System Specialist, Mime, Fire Breather, Pet Waste Removal Service, Astrologer, Palm Reader and Paranormal Investigator.

Amazon has added coverage for new cities and expanded the line of services offered. But with a name change last year from Amazon Local Services to Amazon Home Services, perhaps the goal of site won’t be as expansive. In the application process, there is an entire section on business services, but none are currently offered in any city.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/skuds/4302240794/

5.  Should You Sell Services on Amazon?

A recent Forbes article asked a great question, “the best contractors are always busy, do they have time to apply on Amazon and send quotes to customers?”

This is really a dig at all paid lead generation services. A contractor always has time to answer a phone call from a potential customer, which could have come from Google Search, Facebook or due to positive reviews on Yelp. But selling on Amazon Home Services takes time to respond to quotes.

Customers also tend to use Amazon already for finding the lowest price on everything. If that’s not the type of customer you want to reach, it might not work for your business. The prices are set by Amazon and can’t be influenced by service providers, so make sure you have room to make a profit.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/6247314317/

 6.  A Case Study on Using Amazon Home Services

If you’re still on the fence about using Amazon Home Services, then check out this interview with Bell Hops, a national moving company that has had success on Amazon.

Have you used Amazon Home Services?  What’s been your experience so far?

Any questions for Corey?

Do you have a favorite cat?

Leave a comment!

Now You Can Fix Your Yahoo Local Listing without Paying for Yext

It appears that you can – once again – update your Yahoo Local listing for free, without having to sign up for Yext PowerListings.

Yahoo completely turned over listings-management duties to Yext last year.  Over the course of several years, Yahoo had gone from a viable (if second-fiddle) local search engine, to a broken one, to one that no longer even tried to offer correct or new results.  You’d only pay to correct your Yahoo listing if your NAP OCD caused you to lie awake at night, bug-eyed and sweating into your pillow.

But now there’s a workaround!

Because it’s near-impossible to find, clearly it’s there by design, rather than as a loophole that’s just asking to be glued shut.  Kenny Hodges of Scott Snyder Dump Truck Service emailed me this fresh intel, and explained how to do it:

Phil –

Due to what is most likely a lawsuit in the works, Yext has now added the option for us to just fix our Yahoo listings for free.

This is interesting information that came about from a sales call from Yext.

My uncle received a sales call from Yext and he proceeded to berate them about the fact that they were ‘holding his business listings hostage’. After 15 mins on the phone with the sales person, he was told that there ​IS ​a way to fix his business listings for free. Although he was not given any specific information about how to do it, he thought he would try again for the 30th time. Upon going through the process, he found that it had changed. Lots of information now needs to be filled out prior to seeing your scan with the new format.

Now when you finally get to the pricing schedule, you will find ​a new link, which is
the solution to the Yext stranglehold on Yahoo business listings. You DO need to make a Yext PowerListings account, AND verify that account through email, and agree to the terms. Yext PowerListings claims that even though it’s a free account, you will be in full control of your claimed Yahoo Business page. Prior to claiming your business you will need to find the proper Yahoo business categories through another source as there is no dropdown or multiple choice or suggestions.

Here are the basic steps to get to the “fix it for free” button:

1. Search local.yahoo.com for your business.

2. Hover your mouse over your business on the left. The results on the right are what you’re looking for.

3. Click on “verify your listing,” right under the name of your business, where it asks “is this your business?”

4. Yahoo/Yext PowerListings will open, where it will send you to a “free business listing scan.”

5. What you need to do is go through the entire process as if your are purchasing one of their plans. At the end, after you have entered all your information, just under the “packages” in very small print, it will offer a “just fix Yahoo for free” link.

That is how we were able to fix our listing on Yahoo for free, without paying Yext.

Kenny

It sure is buried.  After you fill out Yext’s form – as though you’re signing up – you’ll see the link if you scroll down and squint:

(Here’s that URL: https://www.yext.com/pl/yahoo-claims/free-claim-checkout.html)

Then you’ll see this screen:

Now just “check out.”  At this point, you should be done for the moment, and your edits should be under review by some combination of Yahoo / Yext people.  I don’t yet know how long those take to process.

You’ll immediately get an email from Yext, but it doesn’t appear to require any action on your part if you only want to fix Yahoo.

Nyagoslav tells me that Yahoo requires phone-verification before your edits go live.  I’m guessing there’s a second email that prompts you to verify, but I haven’t confirmed that yet.

Anyway, this is a good development.  I just wish the link wasn’t so buried.

Have you tried the free-fix on your Yahoo listing yet?  Run into any issues?

Leave a comment!

15 Smart Things Most SEOs Never Do

https://www.flickr.com/photos/swallowtailgardenseeds/15702491308/

I’ve seen SEOs do all kinds of dumb things for clients.  Far less often do I see them follow some wise practices that can help them get better results, and with less heartache. My suggestions also can help you if you are your own SEO person. This may have a slight bent toward local search (as […]

[Continue reading…]

Yahoo Local Review Stars No Longer Show in the SERPs

As a local search engine, Yahoo has long been the equivalent of an ’80s hair metal band, still squeaking along decades after its heyday. For the last few years, its only real boon to your local visibility was that it still ranked well in Google for brand-name searches.  Even if your Yahoo listing only reflected your Yelp reviews, at least […]

[Continue reading…]

Announcing the Definitive List of Local Review Sites

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dannynic/4856756153/

How complete is your collection of reviews? To know that, you’ll need to know of all the sites where customers can (and should) review your business. I’ve found 398 local review sites so far.  Some you already know about – and may even have reviews on – but others are overlooked opportunities. I’ve put together […]

[Continue reading…]

Will a Tracking URL Hurt Your Local Rankings in Google?

You may have considered building a tracking URL and putting it in the “Website” field of your Google My Business Google Places page. You’d do this so that you could see in Google Analytics how many clicks came from people how found you in the local 3-pack (as opposed to in the organic results). But […]

[Continue reading…]

How to Migrate or Redesign Your Site and Not Die in the Local Rankings

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5644507618/in/photostream/

Clients and others often ask me how they can redesign their site or migrate to a new CMS and not end up committing seppuku in the local search results. I tell them that although there are probably a hundred checklist items they might concern themselves with, only a few really matter.  Do these steps wrong […]

[Continue reading…]

Which Local Citation Sources Offer Follow Links?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/superiornationalforest/5062843250/

Pretty much every local listing you create for your business lets you include a link to your website, so that it’s easy for visitors to learn more about you.  But most of those are nofollow links  – meaning Google’s not supposed to “count” them for or against your rankings. Still, some sites don’t slap a […]

[Continue reading…]

Asking Customers for Google Reviews in the New Google Plus: What Are Your Options?

Google’s really done it this time. The “write us a Google review” steps that worked so well for so long soon will work no more. In the new layout of Google+, if you send customers to your local page they will see no way to write you a review, because there is none.  (Sure, there’s […]

[Continue reading…]

Quick Initial Review of Moz Local Insights (Beta)

Moz Local has come a long way in the last 20 months.  It’s a handy option for getting some of your most-important listings up and running, especially for new businesses. It isn’t a one-stop shop for all your citation needs – nor is it meant to be – but it can often eliminate serious legwork. […]

[Continue reading…]