Houzz Optimization vs Houzz Pro+ Advertising
Love it or hate it, search for designers or builders in Google and the Houzz directory will most likely show at the top. With such a high number of qualified leads landing in the Houzz listings, an optimized Houzz profile is imperative for designers and builders that wish to acquire new clients online.
Yet, the question remains how to most effectively use Houzz for lead generation?
Effective Houzz marketing is all about getting a top position in their local professional directory for your category of service. There are two ways to reach a high position: Houzz Optimization and Houzz Pro+ advertising. The first is optimizing a free, “organic” profile, whereas Pro+ is Houzz’ paid advertising product.
In this article, we compare Houzz Optimization and Houzz Pro+ advertising to help you understand why Houzz Optimization typically provides a much, much higher ROI.
Houzz Pro+ vs Optimization
The #1 listing in the Houzz pro directory is an organic, unpaid-for position and you can only accomplish this through Houzz Optimization. Pro+ will get you as high as a second-place but never first, and even then only in rotation with all of the other subscribers in your area (explained in the next point below).
Our Houzz Optimization services help our clients achieve a top position – typically #1 – and we make sure they stay there by updating and maintaining their profiles every day. We use a 25-point profile optimization list that ensures our clients’ profiles become and remain powerful.
Best Position Winner: Houzz Optimization
To be visible to your target clients each time they visit Houzz, your business must be in the #1 organic position earned through Houzz Optimization. Pro+ is effective in getting you higher on the list (as high as #2), but you will be visible at that spot only rarely. If you visit Houzz’ pro directory, you’ll see that Pro+ listings can sometimes be placed very low — go to page four or five of the New York or Los Angeles directory, and you’ll see Pro+ listings there as well. This is because Pro+ rotates its subscribers and doesn’t guarantee good visibility.
For example, if you offer interior design services in New York City, and pay for Pro+, you will be in rotation with over 150 Pro+ users in that area. This means your Pro+ subscription will put you in position #2 just once in 150 searches. An organic top position, on the other hand, will be visible all 150 times at #1.
Visibility Winner: Houzz Optimization
Houzz chooses which designers or builders show up in their top listings based on ranking metrics that take into consideration how complete a profile is, the quality and number of images loaded, the number of projects shared, the number and quality of reviews a profile has received or given, etc. It is estimated that there are at least 25 such ranking factors that go into their algorithm.
The more optimized your profile is, the higher you get on Houzz’ Pro Directory. When Houzz lists you higher in their directory, it means your position is an organic spot that you earned, and it will remain yours as long as you keep updating and maintaining your profile. (Unless a competitor passes you by, thereby bumping you down, or unless Houzz updates its algorithm to give weight to other metrics).
Houzz Pro+ is a paid-for service that can get your profile as high as #2. As long as you’re paying you will have visibility, but if you cancel your Pro+ subscription, your Pro+ ad will completely disappear. So while Pro+ might work as a short-term solution to try to get some visibility — new designers can try to use it while they take time to optimize their profile — in the long-term, an optimized profile is much more effective. And, the problem is that the short-term results of Pro+ are so unimpressive that it is likely a waste of your limited marketing dollars.
Shelf Life Winner: Houzz Optimization
There is a “sponsored” label attached to all Pro+ listings. When potential clients are looking at Houzz’ Pro Directory, they are more likely to click on an organic listing that has been earned through credibility and goodwill rather than a sponsored/advertised listing. The word “sponsored” scares off many people off.
Additionally, an optimized profile has more credibility, sending out more trust signals than paid-for Pro+ listings. The optimization process puts a lot of attention on getting new project images loaded, receiving regular reviews, timely commenting on questions, etc., all of which don’t only help you earn a top position but also lead to an increase in consumer interest and engagement.
In other words, the same trust signals that help you rise naturally also help you make the sale. Thus, buying your way to the top with Pro+ will get you compared to competitors with stronger trust signals, and you can’t expect to be looked on favorably in such comparisons. Think of it like if you bought your way into the Olympics — it would be nice to get on the field, but you’d lose.
Credibility Winner: Houzz Optimization
LEAD GENERATION VOLUME
Houzz Optimization, as a lead generation tool, typically ranges between 5-20x more ROI than Pro+ advertising, primarily due to the consistent #1 position in the directory.
In this above screenshot, you’ll see that 92% of all impressions over the past year were organic for this client of ours versus just 8% from their Pro+ advertising subscription. Their Houzz optimization cost them $1500/mo compared to $800/mo that they put into Pro+ for multiple categories and regions. That is 10x the results for just double the price.
In smaller markets, the results can be just as drastic yet for much less of an investment.
Lead Generation Winner: Houzz Optimization
Houzz Pro+ is a paid advertising service that Houzz offers. Pro+ prices vary based on your location, how many categories you want to be listed in, how many geographic regions you want to be listed in, and your negotiating power. Expect prices to start at $200-400/mo with a one year contract. They require 30 days notice to cancel your contract before the end of the year or it auto-renews for another entire year.
Houzz Optimization services utilize the free Houzz pro profile. Optimization can be done by someone in your organization if they have the time and knowledge.
However, for all practical purposes, the situation gets complex quickly– especially if you are in an area with strong competitors. When your competitors have a head start on you with their activity levels as well as quantity of reviews and projects, it can be very difficult to catch up. Thus, enter professional Houzz Optimization services from our agency.
We do all of the work for you except for getting you reviews and taking the photographs. The rest of the task is ours, and for that, we have full-time members of our team working on Houzz Optimization every business day, and we have an advantage in terms of knowledge, network, and perseverance.
We keep your profile optimized for the current algorithm, and more importantly, our team also prepares for changes to the algorithm. If Houzz changes its ranking metrics and knocks your profile from its top spot, we figure out what happened by testing the new metrics across several accounts, and then we apply what we learned to our clients’ profiles. This kind of scrutiny requires a dedicated, experienced marketing team. You simply can’t expect to have this knowledge and perseverance if you go solo.
Our Houzz Optimization services tend to cost the equivalent of advertising in 1-2 Pro+ categories in 1-2 geographic areas (like two zones within a larger metropolitan area). The range is $500-1500/month for such services, with a one year contract and that rolls into month-to-month. With us, there is no risk of getting auto-renewed into a second full year, although we hope that by that point the value is clearly established and you’d want to stay with us indefinitely.
One of the best metrics for your campaigns’ success is the cost per profile view. Houzz Optimization yields 5-20x more profile views as paid Pro+ in our analysis of many such accounts.
Cost Effectiveness Winner: Houzz Optimization
ARE THERE ANY PRO+ ADVANTAGES?
If you are wondering what Houzz Pro+ offers that the free/organic profile doesn’t include, here are the benefits that it affords:
- mentions in Houzz newsletters – although this tends to not be hot leads, as hot leads are instead looking at the directory listings
- one can load videos to their projects, not just still images
- extra impressions in the directory listings (in rotation with other designers) – but this one is of little or no value to any profile that is optimized and consistently at the top
- extra impressions in image search – however, image search is used more by DIYers than those looking to hire pros, making it a lower value offering
- lead generation – this is a tool that our clients typically dislike. Houzz users fill out a form not realizing that it gets sent to 3-5 Houzz pros as a lead, and then when the pro responds to them the homeowner is often confused or bothered with all of the calls. If you are a designer or builder, you probably only want people contacting you that have carefully reviewed your profile. This lead generation tool is better fit for home repair professionals.
- better analytics – which helps us in tracking things but doesn’t help performance at all
As Pro+ provides a much lower ROI than optimization, we normally don’t recommend it, preferring to use the same money for higher ROI activities such as Houzz Optimization, SEO, and Google Ads. Yet, if you have a few hundred dollars per month to spare and wish to double down on Houzz, it can’t hurt. Our favorite parts of Pro+ are the videos in the projects (for clients that have good videos for this purpose) and the analytics (we love metrics).
Houzz Optimization is a superior marketing tool in all regards. Optimization outperforms Pro+ in getting you a top position, consistent visibility, a longer shelf life, enhanced credibility in the eyes of homeowners, and it delivers a much higher ROI.
Yet, Houzz Optimization isn’t for everyone. Not every studio has what it takes to compete. We offer free quotes on Houzz optimization, which allows us to assess your profile and the strength of your competitors, and then we let you know if we think that you have a reasonable chance in getting to the top and how much it would cost. If we aren’t confident that we can get you to the top, we’ll let you know.
How to get a free quote? If you’re an interior designer, architect, general contractor, or any other home pro on Houzz (sorry, we don’t optimize for the Houzz product marketplace), simply go to our Houzz Optimization page, and after learning more about this service, you’ll find a “get a quote” button. If you already know that you want to step forward, you can either get a free quote here or schedule a paid Houzz phone consultation here.