You may have noticed a new player surging to the top of Search results in the local services sector. This San Francisco based company, called Thumbtack, claims to make the process of hiring a local professional easier by allowing customers to submit their request for a product or service and receive multiple quotes from local providers within 24 hours.
It’s your typical, double-blind lead generation service and there’s nothing new about the method but, Thumbtack has been muscling its way in to the top of Google’s organic search results joining the big-name mainstays in local lead-gen like Yellow Pages and FindLaw, displacing many of its own local service pros along the way.
Part of Thumbtack’s own organic SEO success has undoubtedly come thanks to their brilliantly-crafted system that gives extra points (enhancing membership and therefore exposure/trust?) for completing your Thumbtack profile. The points themselves only seem to bump you up a tier in your membership credentials which has no real value that I can see – except that maybe potential clients will see that you are a “silver member” instead of a “bronze member” when/if they check out your Thumbtack profile.
You get 20 points (!!!) for sharing a link to your new profile from your website, blog, or favorite social network and they encourage you to include a sentence or two along with the link (some SEO advice from an unexpected source?). Once a human evaluator at Thumbtack verifies your account, you may even get an email offering you an extra 10 points (!!!!!!) if you add a bit more info to where you posted the link. (Don’t worry, they’ll send you a suggested sentence or two custom-fit to your particular business). It’s an interesting and probably resource-intensive way to do it, but it definitely defends against spam and has been a clinic in effective organic SEO the way they have been getting all those backlinks.
Will A Thumbtack Profile Help My SEO?
As it currently exists, I do not see Thumbtack being a great help to your search rankings and will definitely not help optimize your website for search engines. It will be another citation you can add to your list, however, and that alone may have some value. You do get a dofollow link to your website in your profile but it only shows up on your noindexed, password-protected profile page. Your publicly-visible profile does NOT contain a link to your profile or your phone number (Like your wife, their filter is also very good at making sure you don’t slip these details into places where they should not be). Basically, you’re not going to get any links out of it. Thumbtack, of course, is trying to make sure they remain the middle-man here and severely limit a business’ exposure to any uncalculated, freebie traffic.
Is Thumbtack A Good Source of Leads?
One of our clients had their Thumbtack profile activated and approved at the very beginning of November. Since then, six leads have come in and they all appear to be relevant (there maybe lies their value proposition over organic Google searches, ha). Not bad for free. Of course, those leads are being fought over by an unknown number of competitor providers in the area and it’s first-come, first-serve (you get an email notifying you that “John Doe is looking for your particular category service). At this point I cannot speak to the quality of leads, but I will be happy to fill in anyone interested when I have that information.
That said, leads are free (for now). And it only makes sense that this is a temporary grace while Thumbtack builds its authority and convinces everyone that they need to create yet another free profile. We’ve all seen this many times and there’s not much to talk about there. In such a competitive world, though, it’s hard to pass up any source of free exposure, especially if it’s a potential $50k car accident case.
So Should I Use ThumbTack or What?
I will tell you this about setting up the profile – get your basic details in, click save and then logout. Wait for the quality-control team to email you before taking the time to painstakingly complete the rest of your profile. I suggest that because of a bad experience. Thumbtack’s options are very extensive with lots of open-ended, essay-type questions. If you put a good bit of time and energy (and a little bit of love) into making your Thumbtack profile the best darn one out there, you will very disappointed when your account is verified and everything is gone. Their interface is also still a little buggy, giving you errors that uploaded logos are not being saved, but then later appear included in the profile. It’s the little things like this that can drive you mad or cost you a lot of money if you’re being billed at agency rates for this type of work. If you have someone with the know-how and a modest hourly wage in your office, assign them this task or you may end up overpaying for a free service. Just remember that this is not a cut-paste species of Local profiles.
So what’s the verdict? Is Thumbtack just a waste of time or what? While Thumbtack remains a free lead-referral service, my opinion is that it is probably worth the hour or so it’s going to take to set up a profile. Of course, that’s without me knowing the quality or character of the leads it produces. From what I can tell, they appear to be on-point, but you never know until you actually communicate with the supposed, potential client and evaluate the situation. (My experiences with some of the major legal lead-gen services were much less than satisfying).
This is also fully acknowledging that participating in their service is like nourishing a creature that will be eating your lunch – if it’s not already. Although, if you have any experience with internet marketing you’re already very used to this and know there’s really not much you can do about it. So, try it for yourself (or don’t) and let me know how it goes.