Yesterday, Angie’s List removed its paywall, ending the 21-year-old website’s defining feature of pay-to-access content and reviews. In this post, we’ll break down what this means for Angie’s List and our clients.
What is Angie’s List?
Many of our clients ask us regularly about Angie’s List, a site they often hear their customers and employees talk about. For years, Angie’s List has placed their content—including customer reviews—behind a paywall, requiring users accessing the content to pay $40 every year to access the site as members.
Angie’s List specializes in reviews for home services companies, including those in HVAC and roofing. Many of our clients have reviews on Angie’s List, but the paywall had the effect of blunting the negative impact of bad reviews—very few people were willing to pay for the membership. According to CNN Money and Angie’s List itself, more than 90% of all views to the site were bouncing off of it at the paywall stage. This effectively means that the content was off-limits to most users.
This means that any poor reviews of your business were generally not accessible to the public, as they would be on sites such as Yelp, Google, Facebook, and other review sites we work with regularly. While we monitored Angie’s List, it had very little impact on SEO or reviews prior to their recent announcement.
So, what is changing?
In short—after some difficulty with their stock price and decreasing interest in the site—Angie’s List is making a major change and ditching their paywall model. This will make their reviews and content accessible to the general public. This means that business reviews on the site will become relevant to SEO and seen by more people looking for your business.
That’s not to say that Angie’s List is now exactly the same as every other review site. One of the effects the paywall had was that it created a small, dedicated cadre of reviewers who were members of the site. Since anyone who wanted to leave a review or write one had to pay to use the site, on the whole, Angie’s List members left detail-rich reviews that went far beyond just a star rating. This detail could go both ways, either making a convincing argument as to why someone should use the business—or they should stay away from it.
What does this mean for our clients?
We’ve always reviewed and kept an eye on Angie’s List, but this change now means we’ll be treating it similarly to the other mainstream review platforms we work with.
For many of our clients, detailed reviews on Angie’s List will now be more accessible than ever. In particular, we’ll be interested in seeing if this tradition of detailed reviewing remains a hallmark of Angie’s List, or if the site starts to gravitate to the larger pull of the web toward the kind of reviews we see on Google, Facebook, etc.
As we mentioned, Angie’s List specializes in providing information and resources for home services companies, but this change means that most experts think their business base will expand to include other industries as well, such as healthcare and education. Angie’s List is unlikely to become the hub for restaurant reviews that Yelp is, but it will compete with it more directly in other sectors. This means that Angie’s List will become an even more relevant platform for all of our clients, regardless of industry or service area.
Have questions about the changes to Angie’s List? Give us a call. We’d love to talk to you about these changes and how they impact your company’s campaign.