Overview & Notes:
Founded by Mark Henninger / Information Ergonomics, Inc on Jan 24, 2006. Mark had a brilliant idea to connect home owners with pre-screened home improvement contractors / service professionals also known as SPs – sound too familiar?
This marketing approach was very similar to the popular lead aggragator ServiceMagic except for one thing – the contractor selections were based on choice.
[Note: My final grades are at the bottom ]
Back in 2008, I was hired as the company’s Director of Search Marketing and was considered the key-player in turning their online marketing struggles around. BestContractors.com needed help and help fast – they were surviving on a poorly compiled Search Engine Marketing campaign that consisted of Google Adwords, Bing AdCenter (Microsoft back then…) and Yahoo Search Marketing.
BestContractors.com in 2007/08 was a rough design that was hard to use and even harder to find. With zero SEO presence, BestContractors.com needed a complete overhaul, a redesign that would not only cater to end users but just as important a website that Google could crawl and rank – something that was non existent at that time. That overhaul was completed in several months with almost instant results and a complete turnaround from their prior stratedgy.
On Jan 12, 2009 HomeSphere, Inc acquired BestContractors.com… Since the acquisition I have been following HomeSphere, Inc for several reasons – 1, they are in the same industry as I am and 2, my client base consists of roughly 80% home improvement contractors.
Where is BestContractors.com today? Since the acquisition it looks that BestContractors.com has lost a majority of its traffic. This could be due to financial restrictions or SEO downfalls, whatever it is it can’t be good for their advertisers.
BestContractors.com Traffic Trends:
Pre HomeSphere Era:
This is the time that I worked for BestContractors.com. Traffic was looking good, rankings were steadly increasing and it seemed that conversions were on the rise. There were mixed emotions – traffic was starting to improve but conversions lacked a following – this in my opinion was due to a well graphically designed but hard to use and confusing user interface. Things were looking: Good.
Current HomeSphere Era:
Obviously I don’t have much statistical data but I can tell you from the looks of their traffic results HomeSphere or BestContractors.com, Inc is in some trouble… There has been a significant decrease in traffic, a near zero organic presence for competitive key-terms and literally a massive bomb shell decrease in Pay Per Click / Search Engine Marketing.
Usability – confusion to the general consumer:
What do I do next? (Home Page Screen Shot…) No real “Call to Action”
- Get SEO back in line (it’s much needed)
- Invest in a PPC Campaign where you can track results.
- I know this is going to hurt but I personally don’t think the whole ‘based on choice’ is a good way to go. Sure there are a lot of complaints on ServiceMagic.com but their model is flawless when it comes to driving cash and delivering results. MOST HOME OWNERS don’t have time nor do they care to look through an online portfolio of recent jobs (unless its a remodel etc…), give them a place to submit the job and go – it’s that simple. Conversions, Conversions, Conversions – did I mention conversions?
- User Interface Help – Rick did a great job on the design of BestContractors.com but it needs more. It’s not user friendly and can be construed as confusing.
My Official Scores:
- Search Engine Optimization: ( D ) - BC went from 26K pages indexed and ranking down to 1K.
- Search Engine Marketing: ( D- ) – Out of 10 relevant searches – I didn’t find BC once.
- Website Usability: ( D- ) Home page entries are very hard to find, below the fold for most categories, no real “call to action…”
- Traffic Trends: ( F ) Almost nothing from a year ago.
Overall Score: D- needs work.
I still think BestContractors.com is a good idea and is good for home owners and contractors alike but if its going to provide value for advertisers it needs some strategic redirection.