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Merchant Circle Websites Are FREE…!

…well, not really.

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Let me begin by apologizing to a broad swath of my faithful readers, because today’s helpful tip probably won’t apply to you. But this little problem with Merchant Circle is so injurious that I feel compelled to alert the remaining 5% of business owners out there who may have fallen victim to this trap.

My apologies in advance to Merchant Circle – It really isn’t my intention to disparage you, but a quick Google search tells me at least 396 other people have already beat me to the punch:

merchant circle scam - Google results.jpg

If you’re not familiar with Merchant Circle, it’s a pretty nifty little concept for the small business owner.  For “free” or nearly free, you can get an instant website presence online. You can add photos, testimonials, information about yourself, etc.  So if you’re in a big hurry to get a website, and you don’t have money to pay for one, it’s not such a bad idea.

Unless, of course, you’re in the pool industry…

The problem here, for pool builders, service companies and retailers alike is that Merchant Circle pays for your free listing by selling ads to Google and other advertisers. So for example, when someone searches for “pool construction” and finds your Merchant Circle website, they’re also going to be enticed by ads from some of your competitors, as seen here:

merchant circle pool construction (with circles).jpg

ABOVE: A “not-so-free website” for Canyon Springs Construction

A pool builder in Houston shared his frustration with me about how he would get a lead from his Merchant Circle website, and then get that same lead from “QuickPoolQuotes.com.” (Naturally, QuickPoolQuotes.com was happy to share the name of his new hot prospect with five of his competitors.) To add insult to injury, QuickPoolQuotes.com would actually charge him for the new lead that he essentially gave to them.)

Hey, you can’t blame QuickPoolQuotes.com; They’re just an advertiser looking for people who want to buy swimming pools. The real issue is here that your competitors ads are on “your website.” And that’s Merchant Circle’s doing.

So if you’re in that 5% of business owners who is currently using Merchant Circle, then I want to strongly encourage you to rethink your website strategy. Because while “FREE” is good, this “free website” cost could be costing you thousands of dollars.

And you certainly don’t want that – no matter how cheap it is.

Till next time,
Brett

2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc.  May not be used without permission.

One Response to “The Evil behind Merchant Circle Websites”

  1. Thanks for sharing this info. I also have a blog about the unethical business practices of Merchant Circle. The NEW MerchantCircle is twice as bad.

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