Recently, I’ve been encountering more questions from clients that are interested in digital marketing about the differences in advertising directly on Google vs. Angie’s List, Yellow Pages (, Dex, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, Yelp, etc. for their local business advertising or franchise efforts.

As with anything, it’s important to understand the context of this question. To do that you must understand the difference between the Internet and Digital Niche Aggregator Publications and how they relate to the world of local business advertising. The Internet is the Universe and Google is the world’s largest search engine.

Obvious, you say. My response is that if it was obvious, I wouldn’t be getting so many questions about this. Let’s further put this into perspective.

Finding the Right Local Business Advertising Vehicle

The number of searches per day on Google is: 3.5 billion per day or 40,000 searches every second (source: Google searches – Internet Live Stats).

Next, we have to look at the marvelous emotional and public relations image the niche sites have created in people’s minds for local business advertising. Unfortunately, the image in many people’s mind is nowhere close to reality.

As the graph below indicates, no one competes with Google―period. Certainly, not Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, and other niche aggregators. This begs the question, “why are the niche aggregators like Angie’s List so successful?” And, is there any value in using them for local business advertising? To answer these questions, we must look into them.

Local Business Advertising Comparisons

Each aggregator has different fees and options. They are very different. On a 30,000 foot level, another major factor to consider is whether your local business:

  • Has and maintains a website.
  • Is wholly owned or part of a franchise that provides marketing services or demands compliance with certain rules and restrictions.
  • Is a professional service like law, dentistry, real estate vs a trade contractor like lawn services, roofers, garage door installers, carpet sales and installation, etc.

I am continually shocked by the number of businesses that don’t want to be bothered with building and maintaining a website. They would rather rent than own and rely on the good graces of companies like Dex, Home Advisor, and others to build and host their website or listings on line. The ease of doing this versus building your own site or landing page for your local business means as soon as you stop paying your Angie’s, or Dex, or Home Advisor landlords, you will lose all the equity, internet cookies, and associated profiles for remarketing and analytics.

Then there is the user experience or ordeal that certain local business sites put consumers through before they can even reach you. In my personal experimentation for clients I have found Angie’s List to be the most transparent and easy to use for consumers and HomeAdvisor to be the worst. Some of these local business advertising aggregators make you answer twelve different questions about your project, home, residential, inside, outside, roof, plumbing, and electrical and then you enter your zip code before they will even show you any local contractors!

To make matters worse, you have no way of knowing how many times some of these services that work on a per lead payment basis sell and resell the same lead or the timing with which you are provided that lead versus your competitors (See: “Comparing Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, and Yelp for Service Contractors” by FieldPulse Academy).

There is no way any of these aggregators can complete with simply having your own pay per click (PPC) ad on Google which can be tailored to show your ads down to the zip code and only during the days and times you want them to show. On the other hand, if you are held captive by a company that won’t allow you to advertise on Google directly, then you have no choice and will have to rely on your corporate or franchise authority.