Many moons ago in my Yellow Pages 3.0 post, I started preaching to the local search industry that owning the SMB website was going to be the best way to insure viability in search.  After all if you are Google where would you rather send someone, to a plumber’s website or to an IYP’s list of plumbers?

Brian Kraff, CEO of Market Hardware, pinged me today to let me know that his company, which makes websites for home service pros, has been acquired by ServiceMagic, a subsidiary of IAC.  This combination makes perfect sense.  SM is trying to pry marketing dollars out of contractors and if you own their website, you are much more likely to get their marketing budget too.

If I were a Yellow Pages-type company, today I would probably be spending some time thinking about how I could move from building profile pages to building full websites for my customers.

See the press release here.

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9 Response Comments

  • Neil Street  January 29, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    You are on the money with that thought, Andrew. Over the years, I have had local business clients I’ve built websites for, clients I’ve done SEO for, and clients I’ve done both for. The ones who have stayed with me the longest, for ongoing SEO and internet marketing, are the ones I have done both for.

    On your point about visibility of local biz websites — here is a true story. One of my longterm clients, for whom I built the site and do SEO, called me yesterday and told me AT & T had been into his shop, trying to sign him up for They got to doing a few local searches in the meeting, countywide. For most of his top terms, he was already in the top 3 in organic search. He felt that the monthly package AT & T were offering, at a price that equalled his SEO spend, was not particularly good value when compared to successful local SEO. He’s right. And as an added bonus, he often gets orders from around the U.S. via his organic SEO, because although he is local he is lucky enough to be able to ship nationally also.

    Final point, often overlooked: if a small biz runs an IYP ad for 12 months, then stops paying, it’s over. Exposure drops to zero immediately. If the same biz pays for a nice brochure site, and ongoing SEO for 12 months, then stops paying, what happens? His site lives on, and so does his SEO value, perhaps for years. It’s a no-brainer which should come first for most local businesses.

  • Andrew Shotland  January 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    That’s a great story Neil, and one I am hearing more and more.

  • Dean  January 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Hey Andrew,

    In all honesty I don’t think this is very noteworthy or new. Directory businesses have been doing this for a long time. Once they realize the lightness in a directory model it’s only logical that they turn to something more substantial, especially in terms of seo, which is of course the ultimate goal here. Smith talks about “presenting a visible storefront for contractors,” in which he’s right, but Service Magic isn’t one to do something solely for the contractor IMO. It’s all about the bottom line or the extra links.

    Should be interesting to see if the model is scalable. I would imagine boilerplate sites?

  • Danny Argent  January 17, 2010 at 5:50 am

    Service magic is already dominating local business results with their exact match listings – they set up a LBC account, point it to a maps profile (no website), and route the phone number to their own call center.

    anyone who calls the poor plumber who agreed to the exact match program reaches service magic’s call center instead, and the info gets sold with a 50% premium.

    If they’re buying companies that design home improvement websites, it could be for this service – listing each contractor with a unique website helps the listings rank high in the local SERPS

  • Andrew Shotland  January 17, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Danny, I agree with your theory. I have regularly posted on this blog that lead-gen & directory companies need to get into the SMB website biz to maximize organic search traffic.

  • Craig Brewster  April 1, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Do you have any advice on how to outrank Service Magic. It seems that they do a lot of misleading things to appear local. Contractors have a hard time showing up on the first page with SM on every page.

  • Eric  June 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I’m sorry, what is SMB? ServiceMagic Business? Small to medium Business? Small Marketing Business? I see small Business Marketing to the left there…. But that’s SBM.

    also LBC? Local Business-something? Link-Building-something?

    Update: searching this site I did find an almost-definition of SMB I found this: “when I say SMB I actually mean truly local sites”.

    I don’t get the acronym but okay, that works for me 🙂

  • Andrew Shotland  June 17, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Hey Eric, sorry for being a bit too industry-lingoish here:

    SMB – Small or Medium-sized Business
    LBC – Google Local Business Center

  • Holly  May 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

    If you could please explain more in detail about how having a MarketHardware/Servicemagic website you are much more likely to get their marketing budget too. Can a Markethardware website hosted by Servicemagic really put you at priority because of the kind of marketing dollars they spend through top search engines? Can you also explain how this would happen. Is it because Servicemagic is a keyword in the website?