Angie’s List is now free! But what does that mean for small business?

Angie’s List removal of their paywall, means business owners should incorporate this site into their local SEO strategy.

Angie’s List followed through on their announcement and removed their paywall. Now, anyone can become a member without paying the ~$40/year fee, and reviews are accessible to anyone. This change, which flew under the radar, has strong implications for the online reputations of many businesses.

Angie’s List has always done well in the home services market; plumbing, landscaping, roofing, concrete and the like. While Angie’s List definitely impacted their reputations, less than one percent of the US population were actually members, which meant the majority of people wouldn’t see the rating or reviews posted on a company profile. Unlike Yelp, businesses could get by with bad Angie’s List scores and negative reviews because many people couldn’t see them. Now, everyone can.

The tearing down of the Angie’s List paywall is a game-changer for these service providers. Here is what you need to know:

1. It is going to rank better for company names

Content is king and Angie’s List has it. Angie Hicks, the site’s CMO and namesake, credited the success of the website to the fact that members “give really meaty reviews.” The depth of these reviews is why people searched for info on potential hires there. Now, with the site opening up to a larger audience, these “meaty reviews” will add value in another way: rankings!

Angie’s List ranked fairly well for businesses despite providing little more than NAP information on the publicly accessible page. The domain is strong and trusted, and now with it having deep review content, we can expect it to climb in the SERPs. If you don’t have a strategy to get positive reviews on Angie’s List, you need to start brainstorming.

2. Your monitoring tools might not work on it

If you use a review monitoring tool, there is a high probability that it is not able to pull in your Angie’s List reviews. Since their content lived behind a paywall, they’ve resisted creating an API which would free up access for developers to get at the review and rating data.

Make sure that you claim your profile so that you are notified of any new reviews. Claiming will also make it easy for you to respond to reviews. Additionally, we always save a copy of reviews as they come in for our clients, and you should too. In case the user deletes or edits their reviews, having the original review has been handy for disputes; it is a best practice to save them.

3. More markets and industries are likely to follow

In the same way that Yelp started out with just restaurants and has expanded into many other consumer businesses, we expect that Angie’s List will try to grow into other markets as well. Angie’s List is a publicly traded company and is trading 75 percent lower than it was just three years ago, so management is under pressure. Making the platform free is a drastic change, but likely only step one. They need to increase revenue, and that comes from page views. They can get that by covering more types of businesses.

While I’m not expecting Angie’s List to become a restaurant review site (anything is possible though), but I could see it easily getting into the healthcare space, B2B reviews and maybe even software/SaaS reviews.

Who knows what will happen, but we are preparing to work on Angie’s List in the same way that we help our clients with Yelp and Google Reviews. I doubt that their rankings will decline, and with their comprehensive reviews, they are bound to have a large impact on the reputations of many businesses.