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Open House: A Glimpse Inside Angie?s List?s Unlocked Community



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The online review ecosystem has become increasingly competitive, and stalwarts like Angie?s List need to evolve if they want to remain in the conversation. We don?t know how much ground Angie?s List has lost to new review sites in the home services niche like Thumbtack and Porch. But Angie?s List recently made a change to their business model, which could have a massive impact on the popular site.

The greatest benefit (or danger?) for service providers is now that the site isn?t hidden behind the membership paywall, one might think that search engines like Google will index those Angie?s List business listings, because they will now be open to anyone. Right?

Well, not yet. It?s important to note that the public listing for a business on Angie?s List today shows a couple of reviews?without the ratings. In fact, the public listing is not very informative compared with the logged-in versions of the listing.

Here?s a listing showing 2 of 19 reviews, and no ratings when not logged in:

screencapture-www-angieslist-com-companylist-us-nj-oakland-jager-landscaping-inc-reviews-3759862.jpg



Take a look at the differences on the listing page when we are logged in:

screencapture-member-angieslist-com-member-store-3759862-about-1468332944795.jpg

While we can see the total number of reviews in the non-logged in version, we can only see two specific reviews and no aggregate rating, the kind of data that would typically be used to encourage Google and others to show those aggregate ratings right in the search results. But even with Angie?s List being free, the specific details are ?locked?:


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.16.11 AM.jpg

Here?s the more detailed review information provided when we?re logged in to the site:


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.28.33 AM.jpg


We can see specific breakdowns of the grade details, ALL of the reviews, and the grade distribution from A-F.
The differences are stark and highlight how despite the site now being ?open,? there?s still gated content.

And how might this affect SEO?


If the reviews are marked up with schema markup but without the ratings, as they are today, they are not likely to yield ratings stars in the SERPs.

Notice how a Yelp listing has the star rating, whereas Angie?s List does not:


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.00.34 AM.png


We therefore shouldn?t get too excited about the changes at Angie?s List from an SEO perspective, but the fact that 20-year-old Angie?s List is evolving and could open up more at some point? that is what makes the hype worth paying attention to. Nobody can rest on their laurels in the reputation business. The ecosystem is always evolving.

Whether you?re in favor of removing the membership fee or not, for home service providers, Angie?s List continues to be an important community where you?ll want to have a strong presence. The site currently brings in 12.6 million views per month on desktop and mobile.

If your company doesn?t have a listing on Angie?s List yet, you?re missing out on some excellent leads.

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screencapture-www-angieslist-com-companylist-us-nj-oakland-jager-landscaping-inc-reviews-3759862.jpg


screencapture-member-angieslist-com-member-store-3759862-about-1468332944795.jpg


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.16.11 AM.jpg


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.28.33 AM.jpg


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.00.34 AM.png
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Garrett for another timely post. Can't wait to read!

Have any of you guys looked more closely at A. L. since the changes???
 
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Thanks for the reply, Linda!

It's difficult to predict what effects this change will have. I'm curious as to what everyone thinks as well.
 

theitsage

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Thank you for the post!

This news concerns me and I'm sure many long-time Angie's list paid subscribers would understand. A main selling point of Angie's list from a customer perspective was that one could trust the reviews from other paid subscribers. This was a great deterrent to spam and fake reviews.

I'm not so sure about the integrity of Angie's list reviews anymore. The free account access can write reviews which makes this a new playground for spam.

In my opinion, this is a huge risk for Angie's list because it is doing a disservice to loyal customers. Yes, management will be able to show investors positive changes in the amount of subscribers but the amount paid subscribers will decrease.
 
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Thanks for the reply!

Good point on how existing members might feel about the change. I agree that there's this inherent risk of alienating past paying members. Part of the appeal is the exclusivity of the community. When the floodgates open, there's no longer that special feeling of privileged access.

I've browed a ton of profiles looking to see if they added any type of 'verified reviews' badge similar to what Amazon does for their product reviews, but did not see any as of yet. I'm surprised that they wouldn't have something in place to prepare for that. But I'd hope they would consider implementing something like that in the future.

Great stuff theitsage! Cheers.
 

JoshuaMackens

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While AL may not be doing things ideally (not taking advantage of schema), the SEO value of Angie's List has definitely increased.

The tear down of the pay wall means more accuracy and transparency than before between the public listing and the private listing when you're logged in. With AL, updates that you made in the dashboard used to take weeks to get to the public page. Now, I can only imagine that timeline has shrunk, which is a good thing for SEO in terms of NAP consistency when changing data, etc.

Also, because of this shift more listings will probably start getting indexed. Before this, AL was not all that interested in whether Google could index your public AL listing or not. With this shift in strategy, indexing has become important because AL has seen the benefits HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, etc. are having through having better transparency through indexing on their site. Having a better chance to get your listing indexed can only be a positive.

Finally, AL is giving more data it looks like through reviews, which means unique content on your citation. Definitely a huge positive.

In my opinion, it looks like AL's SEO value has increased substantially. Although I do understand your point that if they had schema working for them, it would be even better. But that's more of a CTR (conversion) issue than an SEO issue.

I, like you, would love to see them take the next step in schema markup though. Definitely agree on that.
 

mborgelt

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Great insight, Garrett and some seriously solid points from Joshua as well. I think it will be interesting to watch AL's move and the differences in the customer/service provider experience post teardown. Right now we are instructing clients and AMs to leverage AL in every way they can.
 
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Excellent points Joshua.

The value for citation updates cannot be underestimated. Despite the differences between the public facing profiles and member logged in versions, the NAP info will be easily indexed by Google. I appreciate you pointing that out. Really great insight.

And cheers to them adopting Scheme markup in the future!
 
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mborgelt, thanks for the comment!

I love that you're jumping on the AL opps with your clients. Being informed of this change will definitely augment your expertise. Gotta keep up with the constant flux of local, right?
 
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Hey Joshua,

The more I thought about it, the more important I think it is to include your point in my blog post. With your permission, can I use your reply in this thread and attribute a quote to you in an updated version of the post?

If yes, just let me know the best option for linking to you!

Garrett
 

JoshuaMackens

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That is perfectly fine with me. Our website is in my signature. It's a subdomain at the moment so keep that in mind but link to it however you like!

And thank you :)
 
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Amazing! Thank you. The post has been updated with your quote :). If you change your domain in the future, feel free to send me a note and I'll switch things up.

Appreciate your contribution and knowledge to improve the value of the post!
 

JoshuaMackens

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Amazing! Thank you. The post has been updated with your quote :). If you change your domain in the future, feel free to send me a note and I'll switch things up.

Appreciate your contribution and knowledge to improve the value of the post!

Thanks Garrett. Humbled and honored you would include me.
 
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