#TenYearChallenge: Contractor Marketing Changes Over the Last Decade

#TenYearChallenge: Contractor Marketing Changes Over the Last Decade
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan January 18, 2019

If you're not one for social media, then you may be missing out on the viral "Ten Year Challenge" stories and images making the rounds.

In a nutshell, for the Ten Year Challenge you post an image of yourself from 2008 and from 2018 side-by-side and recognize what a difference the years can make.

For fun, we took a look at the Footbridge Media website from 2008 which got us to thinking about the major changes we've seen to the contractor marketing space. Let's take a look at the what has changed with marketing for the construction and home services industries from 2008 and 2018.

The Takeover of the Mobile Internet


The 1st generation iPhone was only six months old at the start of 2008. Android – the operating system that powers the majority of smartphones today – was initially released in 2008.

Back in 2008, you were incredibly forward thinking for making sure your website was easily viewable on someone's PDA.


Today, Google recommends that you build your websites "mobile-first" – so that they load best for smartphones, phablets, tablets, and all your mobile-internet equipped devices first...then worry about desktop design.

Not having a mobile-first or at least a mobile-ready website puts you at a significant disadvantage from an optimization and user experience standpoint.

Getting the Hang of Social Media


Originally only open to those with .edu email addresses, Facebook was publicly available for less than two years by the time 2008 rolled around. "Pages" – the official way for businesses to create a presence on Facebook – had only been available for less than two months at the start of 2008.


By 2018, Facebook alone has over 2 billion daily active users around the world let alone the millions upon millions of Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, & other registered social media platform users.

What was once a (relatively speaking) small group of personal interactions has become a giant audience to engage in conversation – and multiple platforms on which to share your business.

Paying for Leads With Old-School Google


Then Google Adwords – the pay per click advertising network celebrated its eighth birthday in 2008. Video ads on YouTube had only been around for a few months, and "Remarketing" wasn't even a thing yet.


In 2018, it's now more simply called "Google Ads" – but now it encompasses so much more. Traditional Text on SERPs, Video ads, display network ads, remarketing, Google Local Services & Google Guaranteed status, Google Shopping ads, specific mobile ads, local map pack advertisements – the way to pay for exposure on Google has grown dramatically.

Google My Business and Map Listings


In 2008, Google My Business didn't even exist (at least in its current form).

From 2008's perspective – the launch of "Google Local" was in 2004 (4 years previous), but the version "Google Maps" that looks most like what we are used to today was only live for 2 years.

Google Place Pages – which is ultimately the precursor to GMB as we know and love (and hate) today – wouldn't launch for another year.


In 2018 – your Google My Business and a well curated local optimization plan can make or break a business. It has its own smartphone application and it serves as the hub for the public details about your business, including contact information, hours of operation, special promotions, booking details, and customer reviews.

Google Reviews: Then And Now


Aside from car dealerships and restaurants, Google Reviews really weren't a thing for most businesses in the early days. Their shape, the star versus number rating system, and their connection to Google Places, Google Place Pages, or Google Local Listings changed violently in their pre-2008 lifespan.

From the vantage point of 2008, Google Reviews really wouldn't become mainstream in popularity for another 4 years.


Come 2018 – monitoring and actively pursuing online reviews is its own industry – with multiple start-ups and well-established companies offering their own review systems (like the Contractor Review Management System).

I've heard stories of business owners to stopping in their tracks and dropping everything to research and reach out to a negative reviewer to find a way to resolve their problems – all to simply convert or withdraw a negative view of their business online.

And why all of this hoopla about online reviews? Because people trust them. According to BrightLocal's 2018 survey, 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Search Engines: Less Variety and More Consistency


Google search engine share climbed about 6% in United States usage – from about 61.5% to 67.5% in 2008. Yahoo search engine share dropped about 2% in United States usage- from about 21.5% to about 19% in the same year. (Both stats according to research shared at SearchEngineLand.com)


Those number have continued those trends over the decade. As of December 2018, Google commanded 86.91% of US search engine market share – with Yahoo hanging on with 6.31% of the same according to Statcounter.

The Number of Websites Out There


In 2008, there was an estimated 172 million published websites.


Taking into account inactive websites that are simply purchased domains without any content, in 2018 – there are over 441 million websites live to the work.

We're pretty sure some of those websites are new businesses similar to yours that have popped up over the years – which means even just on the web, you likely have more competitors to your business today when compared to 2008.

Web Security Goes Mainstream


SSL – short for Secure Sockets Layer – is what makes the website "secure". Back in 2008, only banks or other businesses on the web transacting in private data were ever interested in having an HTTPS secure website. If you were a contractor or home service provider, you would have no reason to even know what SSL meant let alone have a secure site.


Fast forwarding to 2018 – with Google pushing for a more secure web - that number has skyrocketed from virtually no SSL sites to over 23 million websites with SSL certificates.

Because we are in the marketing trenches day-in-and-day-out – these massive shifts in how the internet and online marketing for contractors works have been incremental adjusts and growth.

Looking back at it all in the rear view makes you realize that we've had to weather quite a bit of change to keep up for the last 10 years. And we know that the next 10 years are likely just to be as bumpy a ride, but we're in the for long haul...are you?

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