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How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You

 
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
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How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


it's just not fair how certain Lead Gen and Ratings Review companies use your name against you. Perhaps some people here can help the vast majority of this contractor community figure out how this is happening.

I see what they are doing, but I can't figure out how they are doing it so well. I help contractors with their own Do It Yourself Website by educating them with basic SEO practics to drive traffic to them; and a new customer asked us to glance to see if their name is being referenced by a Contractor Lead Generation company and the results were really against them. Everywhere we go it swings between bad and very bad results for many contractors.

The following is a snapshot of the Google Results for this customer, and I follow with a suggestion for you to test too.

The first thing to notice is the Contractor Name is the first result in Google followed by the Lead Gen Company name. The Contractor name is repeated first in the Title Tags and Description sections, followed by the Lead Gen Company respectively.

Then on the second result notice how the Contractor Name is referenced in the beginning of the description and now there is a focus on the Contractor’s Primary Trade.

Then the following results all have the next trades of the contractor with different permutations of the description all ending with the Contractor’s Name.

But what is most perplexing (for a lack of a better polite word) is when we clicked on anything other than the first result. Only the first result brings the user to a page that actually had the contractor’s contact information. When we clicked on every other search result, we were brought to a generic website page that had absolutely no reference to the contractor name listed. And you can bet there would be no reason to guide the user back to this contractor after the user continues. We wonder why? Hmmm.

There is a lot to be learned here, starting with our perception of the branding taking place. When looking closely, it comes across that the Lead Gen Company is looking to entrench the viewer with a representation of who the contractor is. Then “think” what a web surfer may do next, and that is look for a particular service. So the user scans a list and sees the different trades of the contractor and is guided into the belief the Lead Generation Company has Contractor Ratings and Contractor Reviews for this specific contractor. Maybe they do and maybe they do not. So the user then selects any one of the trades and goes to a generic page. Is this legal? We are sure there is a legal loophole but we doubt most contractors would think this is ethical. So as always, we would enjoy someone from one of these firms explaining how a contractor would offer to use their company name to drive traffic to a page that doesn’t reference their business.

Ready to analyze your company? Just go to Google and type “YourCompanyName LeadGenCompanyName” and watch what happens.

If the results are non-existent, consider yourself a lucky contractor.

My question to the community is, how are the Lead Generation and Rating Review sites doing this? Any suggestions how to counter the practice? This is especially sensitive when your name is used to drive traffic to a page that no longer mentions your company name.

And of course I would enjoy hearing from lead gen companies that use another company's name to drive traffic to landing pages that have no bearing on the contractor's name, and honestly believe this is ethical. Please explain this if you dare since my instinct is the contractor's here will come back with their own opinions of the tactics.

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Old 07-14-2013, 02:05 PM   #2
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Lead Gen guy here =)

Firstly, I think I sort of understand what you're trying to say but maybe not completely.

Let me give you some background on myself and what I'm attempting to change/disrupt in the field of lead generation.

Generating leads for us isn't the difficult part, it's ensuring that they are quality leads and managing a way to weed out the crap from the quality (though so may argue any work is good work). Reviews a big draw to our sites for the end user. It gives them a bit of security when venturing into large scale jobs and ensuring quality service.
the problem here is that most sites don't monitor reviews, who's leaving them, is it just bashing somebody or is is fake boosting?

What I've done is a bit different. Unlike Angies, yelp, google and yellowpages where its pretty much a free for all and anybody can leave reviews (virtually unchallenged) we require our reviews be left by customers who actually engage our service providers through our site. It may mean it takes longer to build a rep through our service but the reputation will be real. We also make sure to do random checks on reviews to ensure they are in fact real. If somebody has a customer that is just "that guy/woman" that can't be satisfied no matter how hard you try you can open a dispute and we investigate both sides and will leave a review or remove it if as we see fit. We toyed with the idea of businesses leaving reviews on customers as well but put that on hold until we get some more research done. I think it's important when making a choice on wether you want to pursue a lead or not.

As far as what you're referring to goes, I think what is really happening is some of these sites priority is to gain more traction, and generate a lead that can be sold. (depends on what service you're using), if it's Angie's, they need to provide as little info as possible but elude to the fact that they have relevant information on a particular contractor, this in turn results in a user sign up which is how they make their money. They then pester you to pay for improved listings within their site. (which they don't tell their customers)

They use contractor names as a draw to their site, they don't make money if that listing results in the person bouncing directly to that contractors site.

Most have the added benefit of being larger and thus ranking higher in many searches in many areas. This includes me. the difference is the info given once you click that listing in the search results. Sites like mine and thumbtack allow you to simply directly contact the contractor without dealing with all of our sign ups and "listing creators" and thats fine. I technically make my money from low monthly or yearly memberships. I feel if you pay to be listed on my site I have no right to hold you back from anybody contacting you. thats the ENTIRE POINT! It doesn't matter if the lead comes through a site notification or a simple phone call. A lead is a lead.

Now for the legalities. You show up in these listings because you created the profile. That information is on that generators servers thus its their property.

It's really no different than having a listing in the phone book. Now if you're listed on a site you never signed up for you have the right to request your information be removed. No TOS was signed therefore they have no right to list you on their site.

I'm hoping I understood your question right, if not, straighten me out. I myself used to be a contractor. So I tend to side with your side on things. I always love feedback and interaction. The only way to build something that is enjoyable and functional is to actually LISTEN and execute.

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Old 07-19-2013, 12:49 PM   #3
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


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Originally Posted by Beerob81 View Post
They use contractor names as a draw to their site, they don't make money if that listing results in the person bouncing directly to that contractors site.

Now for the legalities. You show up in these listings because you created the profile. That information is on that generators servers thus its their property.

It's really no different than having a listing in the phone book. Now if you're listed on a site you never signed up for you have the right to request your information be removed. No TOS was signed therefore they have no right to list you on their site.

I'm hoping I understood your question right, if not, straighten me out. I myself used to be a contractor. So I tend to side with your side on things.
Yes across the board to what you are saying, and I just wanted to expand on this with a visual so people understand.

When I selected the first reference to Trade #1 in the above example I then got the following.

The issue we have with the above is the branding of the Lead Generation Company begins, the phone number doesn't represent the very contractor the consumer was looking for, and now the consumer is being redirected away for another reason.

Scrolling down the page brings up all other forms of contractors which has its own set of issues.

Why mention more contractors when the consumer was looking at your specific name? Maybe there is someone else paying more for the lead of advertising space (or whatever is the terminology being used)

And perhaps having a contractor's name is just a way for everyone to say "Hey, we did have your name listed on the page". Sure, on the bottom assuming the consumer scrolled down. Why not just make the font be 6pt while we are at it And if you are really looking to promote the contractor, the name you used to drive traffic, then why not have them listed on top?

So at the end of the day, there are just so many reasons why a contractor may consider not signing up in the first place since the Terms and Conditions are so against them when it comes to branding and redirecting. I'm sure I am missing even more things under the sheets, but I think I cover enough to have many think about it.
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:06 PM   #4
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


It was one of the first things I addressed and is a huge selling point for me. Even on a free account it's basically a free listing no strings attached. As a lead generator it's my job/duty to get customers to engage with my businesses.

Anybody is free to contact a business and read user reviews.

Places like Angie's hide the contact info because they charge $7 or $8 a month just to get access to that info. It's absurd and really only hurts the business in the end. Then of course if you are on Angie's you need to pay to improve your ranking when your field is searched.

I eliminate the ranking system by sending leads directly to the business and leave it up to them to respond. If you need the business, respond. If you're booked or not interested, ignore, but at least you saw it.
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:07 PM   #5
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Don't even get me started on their "reviews you can(t) trust"
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Old 07-20-2013, 08:00 AM   #6
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


I see you mentioned a specific lead generation service, and I am not looking for viewers to think it is a "one" company issue as you mentioned since the issue is easily repeated among a few larger players and many other smaller players (who by the way are quietely owned by the bigger players ). It is "almost" the entire industry having a feeding frenzy like an animal walking into a pond with piranha lurking.

So many companies operate under the umbrella of helping get leads (heck, even I do), and I think you are trying to promote a lead gen permutation too (but can't tell on how you are wording your replies ).

But all of this comes down to a contractor understanding the "Terms & Conditions" and the Content they provide a Lead Gen Company, and rights they AGREE to give up with the provided Content.

I realize many new contractors have so many options to consider when looking for leads on the web, and many are looking for something for Free. But at the end of the day, what you "think" you are getting for Free is costing you so much more in the future than you may never understand, SO DO NOT AGREE TO ANYTHING without understanding the consequences.

Many of the sales reps will tell you "it's really not a big deal", or "do not worry about it", or some permutation ... yeah right! Hit the enter key and the seed has been planted on your challenge for you getting your own leads to your own website. And this is FOREVER as part of your Terms & Conditions you agreed to.

And do not just listen to me from my analytical side, go to the other forum topics and simply look how the postings take place. Keep in mind that many of the posting people have already had a set of great experiences that have forced them to talk this way, many of them negative. Yes, some are positive - but it seems the percentages favor the negative issues.

I know many may feel "they will give it a chance", but signing up is not like playing Lotto just one time and walking away. Imagine going to play Lotto and giving the clerk your full name, social security, address, Debit Card info, birth date, etc. I do not see that as playing the same game of chance. Just read the terms and conditions and decide for yourself.
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Old 07-20-2013, 09:32 AM   #7
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


I mention Angie's simply because I know specifically why their service doesn't divulge a contractors contact info (for free).
I'm not looking to promote myself, I'm just mentioning my understanding of the issue and what I've attempted to do differently. Fact is, if your information is listed in any lead gen site (like yellowpages) your info is benefitting them just as much as any of the listed businesses. The more content they provide the more they can sell and profit.

You have the option of not listing yourself anywhere, but then your SEO is up against some serious juggernauts. It's just smart to have your business contact info in as many visible places and search results as possible.

Now as for experiences, everybody has a different one and they have their go to lead gen company. Understandable that everybody can't and won't be pleased equally, some try harder than others. I look at some smaller start ups like myself that really do more to listen to the needs and wants and adapt to them. There's a bit more freedom when you aren't under "the umbrella" as you put it.

Some of those umbrella corps buy/bought up other companies because they ruined their brand and have a tarnished history. They really didn't change anything though, and that's the issue.

As far as socials go, I commented in another thread about that. It's just unwise to put that out there and background checks are as useless as teats on a boar.
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Old 07-20-2013, 02:37 PM   #8
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


So what you are saying is:
By signing up and even worse paying for lead gen services...They use your Brand, Name and location to funnel the viewer to a greater range of choices, that they control. You the brand gets a top listing, but every choice after that goes to your Lead Provider and possibly your competition. Competition within the lead gen service that gets another crack at it, through your name/brand.

Kind of Rockerfeller-ish collusion deal where nobody really wins but Rockerfeller and you paid them to do it. Brilliant, but sucks for the the the guy who needs leads for the business.

If that's the case, even if a lead gen service looks good, a real in depth investigation is needed. AKA Buyer beware and there is no such thing as a free lunch.
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:49 PM   #9
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Wax View Post
So what you are saying is:
By signing up and even worse paying for lead gen services...They use your Brand, Name and location to funnel the viewer to a greater range of choices, that they control. You the brand gets a top listing, but every choice after that goes to your Lead Provider and possibly your competition. Competition within the lead gen service that gets another crack at it, through your name/brand.

Kind of Rockerfeller-ish collusion deal where nobody really wins but Rockerfeller and you paid them to do it. Brilliant, but sucks for the the the guy who needs leads for the business.

If that's the case, even if a lead gen service looks good, a real in depth investigation is needed. AKA Buyer beware and there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Sort of, it depends on the company, but I'm short, yes. The alternative is to not list at all. Look at yellowpages, for ages it was the only go to lead gen service in terms of generating calls. You paid for larger ads and more spots to get noticed. Then the Internet happened and everything changed.

Now some companies are trying to find ways to streamline the process of generating you leads while also offering benefits to the customer. Angie's pushes for discounts, some offer more estimates while others simply offer an easy and more pleasurable experience when shopping for the right professional.

Now the term lead generator is something that may be being used a bit too narrowly here. Any form of advertisement you pay for is technically a lead generator. So the point becomes, who is going to generate you more paying leads per dollar. Who helps you brand yourself and who fits your overall needs the most.

Many will argue that a medly of them all would be right right solution, others prefer to do it how they always have. There's plenty of room for both. Some will do anything to make more mo ey and other are content with their current load. If a service will allow you to at least list your information for free you're not losing a thing, especially if it pops up once and gets you a single job. If somebody is specifically searching for you they will and should always get your info first, if you're doing things right.

This scenario described at the top required you to put in your name+lead gen service name to yield the desired results.

A more suitable test would be for somebody who is established on a few sites and has a solid SEO to search their field and see what comes up, then search JUST their name. Will a lead site pop up first? If they do you should do more to get your personal page listed higher.

People like choices and some even like to make educated choices based on information available to them. If that means comparing you to another contractor and putting reviews side by side then so be it. The question is, are you afraid you don't stack up? If you don't, what can you do to improve it. If you have no reviews out there then you might want to get more active in making that happen. People deserve to know if you do good work or not.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:17 PM   #10
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
People like choices and some even like to make educated choices based on information available to them. If that means comparing you to another contractor and putting reviews side by side then so be it. The question is, are you afraid you don't stack up? If you don't, what can you do to improve it. If you have no reviews out there then you might want to get more active in making that happen. People deserve to know if you do good work or not.

FYI that rubs me the wrong way.....
??Your not looking out for my interests in that statement, as in what I'd pay money for?? Appears You are looking out for your image and likely advertising dollars. Those dollars don't count on the paying contractor, they rely on the end user to click.
How is stacking up, besides being an ego boost sales tactic, going to get me in front of more potential customers-where the REAL work takes place? Simply if they click on my business name - end of competition for a lead. They can click on as many others as they want and compare prior to that.
What seems to be going on is you're playing a numbers game, I'm playing a numbers game, google is playing a numbers game and in the end it's all getting watered down by statitics to make the most average $$$$ for each entity. As a contractor I get at best average results in a commodity market...Seems like I could get better results spending the money aka my time going door to door and do a better job of branding and lead generation to set up appointments for sales.

What say you?
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:21 PM   #11
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Let me see if I can get my head around the Cliff Notes of this thread.

Sign up with a lead generation company, and when Joe Consumer Googles my company online, the LGC shows up instead. Even after I end my business relationship with the LGC.

Correct?
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:45 PM   #12
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Wax View Post
FYI that rubs me the wrong way.....
??Your not looking out for my interests in that statement, as in what I'd pay money for?? Appears You are looking out for your image and likely advertising dollars. Those dollars don't count on the paying contractor, they rely on the end user to click.
How is stacking up, besides being an ego boost sales tactic, going to get me in front of more potential customers-where the REAL work takes place? Simply if they click on my business name - end of competition for a lead. They can click on as many others as they want and compare prior to that.
What seems to be going on is you're playing a numbers game, I'm playing a numbers game, google is playing a numbers game and in the end it's all getting watered down by statitics to make the most average $$$$ for each entity. As a contractor I get at best average results in a commodity market...Seems like I could get better results spending the money aka my time going door to door and do a better job of branding and lead generation to set up appointments for sales.

What say you?
I see how you can see it that way. The real goal is to get you connected to the customer. Now you can look at it this way, by creating an attractive easy to use system with added benefits of security, we can generate higher quality leads, but most importantly get your name in front of people who would normally never do business with you because they don't know about you.

Yes, I think beating the pavement and knocking on doors can be very effective, but in the same sense you're pretty much throwing a handful of darts at a board and seeing what sticks and at the same time not working and earning any money. Convenience is supposed to be key to both sides of this cookie.

Like I said, I think optimizing all aspects of your marketing plan is the key.
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Let me see if I can get my head around the Cliff Notes of this thread.

Sign up with a lead generation company, and when Joe Consumer Googles my company online, the LGC shows up instead. Even after I end my business relationship with the LGC.

Correct?
no enter joe consumer AND lead generator company and get those results. If your page isn't coming up first when your own name is searched you've failed somewhere and need to fix it.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:46 PM   #13
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


And please, don't shoot this messenger. OP wanted a lead gen to reply and I'm trying to be as informative and open as possible. At the same time, I'm hoping to take something positive away from this as well.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:59 PM   #14
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by Beerob81 View Post
Convenience is supposed to be key to both sides of this cookie.

Like I said, I think optimizing all aspects of your marketing plan is the key.
Funny, Convenience rarely equals quality anything. Not a shot at you or lead gen services- a general observation

Agree on the marketing optimization

and seem to be drifting off topic, at least I have a better understanding of what the OP was getting at. LOL Not a straight forward obvious topic to understand.

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Old 07-20-2013, 05:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beerob81 View Post
.......no enter joe consumer AND lead generator company and get those results. If your page isn't coming up first when your own name is searched you've failed somewhere and need to fix it.
HUGE assumption on your part that my site isn't coming up first.



HUGE


Now..... where will my site be AFTER our agreement ends?
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:04 PM   #16
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
HUGE assumption on your part that my site isn't coming up first.



HUGE


Now..... where will my site be AFTER our agreement ends?

Now BIG is teh ass umption?
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:18 PM   #17
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Wax View Post
Funny, Convenience rarely equals quality anything. Not a shot at you or lead gen services- a general observation

Agree on the marketing optimization

and seem to be drifting off topic, at least I have a better understanding of what the OP was getting at. LOL Not a straight forward obvious topic to understand.
When corners are cut, true. If done right, it's a very helpful tool
Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
HUGE assumption on your part that my site isn't coming up first.



HUGE


Now..... where will my site be AFTER our agreement ends?
You're right. The assumption I made is that you took the time to do uour site correctly. There's no reason for a secondary listing to rank higher than the primary.
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:54 PM   #18
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by Beerob81 View Post
........You're right. The assumption I made is that you took the time to do uour site correctly. There's no reason for a secondary listing to rank higher than the primary.
And the answer to my question is........................?
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Old 07-20-2013, 09:49 PM   #19
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Re: How Lead Gen Companies Use Your Name Against You


Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
Let me see if I can get my head around the Cliff Notes of this thread.

Sign up with a lead generation company, and when Joe Consumer Googles my company online, the LGC shows up instead. Even after I end my business relationship with the LGC.

Correct?

Yes, and the reason is terms similar to these that contractors agree to without understanding, so I highlight what matters.

By providing any content to Lead Gen: (a) you agree to grant Lead Gen a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right and license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, translate, and to create derivative works and compilations, in whole or in part ; (b) you acknowledge and agree that Lead Gen will have the right (but not obligation), at Lead Gen's entire discretion, to refuse to publish, or to remove any content you provide, at any time and for any reason, with or without notice.

There is so much wrong here that I just do not know where to begin. Perpetual? Royalty-Free? Modify? Derivative Works? Refuse to remove?

And again, I am not saying every single lead service has bad terms, but MANY MANY do ... so forget whatever anyone says, and just look at the terms and conditions. If you see any permutation of the above, then you know what you are in store for and just do not give into this. The rest is sales hype.

Thanks beerop for replying but lets see if another Lead Gen can jump in at some time since I think you have made enough comments, or not

But with any new Lead Gen replying, and I realize it will be hard to not offer redirecting comments, please also include that that you have absolutely no permutation of Content Terms as mentioned above .
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Old 07-21-2013, 10:02 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
And the answer to my question is........................?
That was my answer. If you're doing it right your ranking won't change, your listing might or might not be removed. I don't know how others work but as far as I'm concerned, if you were in a paying agreement and ended it your listing should be removed. If it isn't then your number is out there for free, assuming they list your info. If not I would hope requesting it be removed would work, any company that didn't respect your wishes is just wrong.
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Originally Posted by MOTB View Post
Yes, and the reason is terms similar to these that contractors agree to without understanding, so I highlight what matters.

By providing any content to Lead Gen: (a) you agree to grant Lead Gen a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right and license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, translate, and to create derivative works and compilations, in whole or in part ; (b) you acknowledge and agree that Lead Gen will have the right (but not obligation), at Lead Gen's entire discretion, to refuse to publish, or to remove any content you provide, at any time and for any reason, with or without notice.

There is so much wrong here that I just do not know where to begin. Perpetual? Royalty-Free? Modify? Derivative Works? Refuse to remove?

And again, I am not saying every single lead service has bad terms, but MANY MANY do ... so forget whatever anyone says, and just look at the terms and conditions. If you see any permutation of the above, then you know what you are in store for and just do not give into this. The rest is sales hype.

Thanks beerop for replying but lets see if another Lead Gen can jump in at some time since I think you have made enough comments, or not

But with any new Lead Gen replying, and I realize it will be hard to not offer redirecting comments, please also include that that you have absolutely no permutation of Content Terms as mentioned above .
I see the issue but I think I can still shed a bit of light on that as well.

Lawyers draw these things up and lawyers think differently than most of us and legalese is even more confusing but apparently "necessary" to keep them feeling unique and important.

What the royalty free segment is doing (I believe) is keeping somebody from suing for listing a trademarked logo or name on their site.

For me, we don't physically put anything on the profiles ourselves, you do. If you upload your logo then you're giving my site permission to host your logo in a sense. I don't own that logo, but you would basically be saying its ok for you to display it. You can't just put a yard sign in anybodys yard, you need permission. Imagine somebody doing that without permission then turning around and suing them for trademark infringement. It sounds unreal but weirder things have happened I'm sure and that's just how lawyers think.

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