Sudden 95% decline in profile views

Since 2017, I have been a fairly successful Thumbtack pro, usually a Top Pro, but something mysterious occurred in late March/early April 2022. I had consistently been getting around 500 views per week, through March. Starting in April, I was down to about 25 views per week, and I've been there ever since. I got about 20 direct leads in the first three months of 2022. Since then, I have had zero leads.

How could this happen? I can imagine a profile gradually languishing, but this change was so sudden and extreme that I think it suggests something on Thumbtack's end.

Does anyone have experience with this issue? To be clear, the issue is not "I'm not getting enough views." The issue is "My views suddenly declined 95% with no discernible cause."

I have made some minor cosmetic changes to my profile and can continue doing so. I've also gotten a couple new reviews during my visibility drought--which doesn't seem to have changed things, and anyway my ability to get verified reviews will soon disappear with the last of my clients.

I'm really hoping someone has useful advice. I doubt that changing my profile picture or something like that will trigger a 20-fold increase in views, but at this point I'm open to all suggestions, even implausible ones.

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Comments

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    Hi @GoodQuestionTutoring thanks for posting! I couldn't see anything weird when I looked into your profile, so I have reached out to a team member that might be able to dig a little deeper to see what is happening! I will let you know what they say. Thanks!

  • Thanks @DustiO, I really appreciate that. I look forward to hearing their insights.

  • Hi @DustiO, any updates on this? I have a couple updates on my end.

    First, I have confirmed that my profile does not show up at all, when other people search. At least, no friends that I've asked have been able to find it yet. When I search from my own laptop, my profile is close to the top of the results, but this appears to be specific to my laptop. I get the same results when I use a different browser, but when I check from a different computer (one that I've never used Thumbtack on), my profile cannot be found.

    Second, when I show up in search results on my laptop, I am listed as a Top Pro, even though I have not been a Top Pro for several months. A strange thing to complain about, I am sure. :-P But it does seem to suggest some kind of glitch.

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17

    I am still pretty new/inexperienced in Thumbtack so take my comment with a grain of salt. I would try to replicate this on your laptop in Incognito mode.

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17


  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @GoodQuestionTutoring I am having someone from the support team reach out to you so they can help you! It seems like there is something awry so hopefully they will be able to get it sorted. Please keep me posted - and sorry I wasn't personally able to help you more!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @GoodQuestionTutoring The agent who reached out to you got back to me this morning to let me know that the issue seems to be resolved - wahoooooo! Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with, or if anything still seems to be wonky. Thank you!

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17

    Any notes on what caused this issue?

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @WDodson I am not sure, as it was the Support team that figured it out! @GoodQuestionTutoring might have more insight, though!

  • Hi @DustiO, to be honest, I am not sure if anything has changed. I seem to show up in searches sometimes, but my views are still way down. I finished up last week with a grand total of 5 views, my lowest ever, a hundredfold decrease from my previous average. I also notice the continuing presence of the Top Pro badge, which suggests that something is still glitching. I've waited a few days before replying to you, just to see if things clear up on their own. It hasn't happened yet.

    In any case, thank you very much for your support. Also, thank you to @WDodson for taking an interest in my issue. I wish I could give you a better idea of why my Thumbtack profile suddenly collapsed, since I'm sure you'd like to avoid the same fate. Unfortunately, I just don't know what's going on.

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @GoodQuestionTutoring the Top Pro badge is a separate issue which is still being worked on. If I were you I would follow up with the Support agent that helped you the other day - he is really great and can maybe shed more light on why views are still low. I wish I could help more! Hopefully this week will look better, since we're only one day into it! Fingers crossed!!!

  • @GoodQuestionTutoring , have you had any luck with this issue? I'm in a similar boat, also a tutoring business. I offer 3 popular subjects (all levels of math, Spanish & the SAT), and was receiving 1000+ views and multiple leads per week between August 2021 and April 2022. My profile is filled out, with a good headshot, plenty of reviews and photos, a 4.8 star rating and FAQ's. I temporarily hid services in May 2022 due to being fully booked, turned them back on in June, but ever since, have been getting virtually 0 views and leads.

    Whenever I get in touch with a support agent about the problem, they say the same thing: apply to opportunities and maybe there will be more leads when the school year starts. Neither of these suggestions seem very helpful or encouraging. The only helpful tip I got was to update a new setting, the max price you're willing to pay for a lead. I just set very competitive max lead prices and changed my budget from $50 per week to unlimited, with the hopes of getting the ball rolling. Fingers crossed I don't wake up to 50 leads & $1000 in fees, but then again, I suppose that wouldn't be the worst thing!

    So: have you had any luck getting leads again? Have any other pros with similar experiences found techniques to improve visibility and leads? I will probably create a new post about this issue, but wanted to respond here first. Hope others see this and find it helpful, or would like to add their own similar experiences.

  • Hi @AnonymousTutor, good to hear from you. Unfortunately, I don't have any positive news. I have set my max lead prices to "competitive" levels. I have also set my budget to unlimited. There has been no improvement. In fact, my view counts are now substantially worse than they were when I started this thread!

    My profile views collapsed at the end of March. I had not recently hidden my services prior to this (last time had been October), so I'm sure that's not what caused it, at least in my case.

    The strange thing is, I have verified that my profile actually is somewhat visible--it appears high in the rankings in nearby zip codes, and in the middle for lots of other zip codes around the country. I don't think it was ever much better than this, so I doubt that's what changed.

    You would think all this might indicate something on Thumbtack's end, like if Google suddenly blacklisted it. However, this seems unlikely given that your collapse and mine occurred at different times.

    One question: Were you ever a top pro? If so, from when to when? Feel free to get in touch with me privately if that allows you to reveal more.

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @AnonymousTutor Keep us posted on whether or not any of those things help. @GoodQuestionTutoring I am so sorry to hear this - have you reached back out to Support at all?

  • Hi @DustiO, I did a couple times before I started this thread. The responses seemed automated--almost immediate, and not relevant to my questions except insofar as they contained the same keywords. Not to be too much of a whiner, but I have yet to see any Thumbtack user report a useful experience with Support. I'd rather save myself the frustration. By contrast, the support I've received from you, in this thread, has been very helpful and much appreciated. I know Thumbtack has great people--it's the algorithms that sometimes suck.

    I am more puzzled by my situation than I was at the start of this thread. I have verified with friends around the country that my profile is reasonably visible (top of the list in local zip codes, upper middle of the list in many others). I wonder if it's possible that views are occurring, but are somehow not being counted in my view tally.

    The real issue, of course, is leads--I'm not getting any. None for five months, despite apparently high profile visibility. Is it possible that my profile is visible, but not clickable? Like, customers can see my profile, but when they try to contact me they get an error? That's my latest theory. Unfortunately, it's hard for me to test this without running afoul of Thumbtack's policies, since I'm sure I'm not allowed to ask a friend to contact me through Thumbtack. Can you think of a way to explore this?

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @GoodQuestionTutoring I was able to search in your zip code and see your profile and everything looked right - the "contact" button was there and everything... Not sure what is happening. I know we already talked about this, but have you made sure you have all of the jobs you want to do checked in your preferences? Has any of that changed since last year when leads were aplenty?

    I would definitely take the suggestion to respond to some "opportunities", and see if you can get a new review (even from a past customer) and see if that helps at all - you aren't showing up on the first page for me when I look, so that may be why!

    I wish I had more tips!! If you would like I can personally have someone from support reach out to you and see if they can find anything else?

  • Hi @DustiO, if there's someone from Support who is familiar with this specific situation and has successfully resolved it before, I'd certainly be interested. Just to reiterate, though, my situation is not as simple as it might sound. It's not just about me not getting enough views. It's that I was getting plenty of views and leads, and then experienced a sudden and sustained 95% drop (which is now more like 99%).

    My job preferences and such are all as I want them, and as they have been for years. None of those things changed around the time of my sudden collapse, so it's hard to imagine that they are the cause. And yes, I have been responding to jobs in the opportunities tab--my responses never get viewed. I've gotten a couple new reviews during this period, but haven't seen any change.

    Just out of curiosity, what service and zip code did you search, and where was I listed? To give a flavor of my apparent visibility on my end, when I search "GMAT Tutors" in 94102 (my city), I am top row, on the right. When I do the same term in 90003 (different city, same state), I am fifth row, on the left. When I try 60007 (different state), I am fourth row, on the left. As I understand it, even if people don't click my profile, just scrolling past my name in the search results should count as a "listing view," right? Very strange. (If I'm wrong about that, what's the difference between "listing view" and "profile view"?)

    As always, I am most grateful for your concern and attempts to help. This problem seems basically intractable, and I hate to trouble other people with it.

  • Just an update: Got two leads today! I believe it must be due to a suggestion made by @AnonymousTutor, to set my maximum lead prices as high as allowed. The maximum for Test Prep Services is $74, and both of these leads were close to that. Be careful what you wish for, I guess. ;-)

    It's still a puzzling situation, since my profile stopped getting leads well before Thumbtack implemented the maximum lead prices feature (unless that was rolled out to different pros at different times--there's a thought), so I don't know what triggered the problem, even if setting the lead price preferences is what solved it.

    @DustiO, do you know when the maximum lead price feature first came out? I don't recall seeing it until a couple weeks ago, but if it existed all this time, and I was getting priced out of leads because I couldn't change my preferences... well, that might be the explanation, huh?

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17
    edited September 1

    This is sorta what drove my other recent post, asking how does TT allocate SEO and PPC advertising budgets by local markets.

    I'm wondering if a change in TT advertising (which TT pays for) or in search support (organic SEO) has lead to a change in site traffic and changed your profile views, or caused a decline in traffic to your business service category on thumbtack.com.

    My sense of it is that the vast majority of customers don't go to thumbtack.com for help, they first do a Google search. So, if your business service category, and/or your local city/zip, is suddenly un-activated by TT marketing on Google (or Bing etc) then you will probably see a decline in views in the TT "Insights" reporting. Right? Maybe?

    Unless your potential customers are in a habit of not using Google and going directly to Thumbtack to view and hire you. When I look at my TT Insights page it doesn't show where a view is coming from: Is it from a Google search, or from someone who bypassed Google and typed in thumbtack.com (aka 'direct' traffic) and found you there.

    Just a theory, amigos 🤔

  • Hmm, not so sure about that. I've been (somewhat haphazardly) monitoring Thumbtack's search engine presence, and it's seemed roughly constant. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the "Max lead prices" feature is the key to this affair.

    By the way, the new lead prices are rather brutal. I'm glad to be getting leads again, but by my rough estimate, my leads are going to cost about 35% of my earnings. That's kind of really high, and not necessarily what Thumbtack intends. I don't know how Thumbtack estimates the value of jobs, but I don't think it's working. :-/

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17

    @GoodQuestionTutoring thank you for that -- I have not tinkered or looked into lead prices or budgets really, nor have I analyzed Google search beyond a few local tests. So I trust your instinct on that. One thing is clear, 'views' needs some explanation so if anyone knows of a topic or blog post about traffic sources, search terms, or data dumps that would be great.

    If lead prices go up I guess the assumption from TT is that we raise our rates to recover those costs. And/or we compete harder and win more leads vs our local (or national) competitors, thus offsetting the higher fees with more/better customers. And one hopes that TT marketing allocations support that dynamic.

  • @WDodson I'm not optimistic. Thumbtack has lots and lots of industries and can't give proper attention to all of them. It was great for tutors for a long time, but even while I was reaping the rewards, I was aware of complaints from pros in other industries in which leads were clearly overpriced. These pros were being asked to pay $30 for a 1-in-5 chance of winning a $100 job, and that's assuming the customer even bothered hiring one of them. Obviously Thumbtack was making a mistake, but I don't think the complaints ever led to corrections.

    Those pros went elsewhere. Tutors may have to do the same.

  • nowren
    nowren Posts: 3

    I went from 1800 profile views a week to fewer than 10 when the calendar turned from March to April. It is definitely the max lead price. Zero leads in about 6 months. I set it to max and suddenly I had 200 views in one day, and 5 leads. No leads are so expensive that I am going to be getting leads on the first day of the week, even with a weekly budget of over $200. I have spoken several times to support and not once did anyone ever mention he maximum lead price, I had to find it on my own.

  • AnonymousTutor
    AnonymousTutor Posts: 4
    edited September 6

    @nowren , was there anything else you changed? Since setting my lead prices to max & budget to unlimited, I've seen a slight uptick to 19 views and 1 leads, but nothing close to the 200 views & 5 leads you're reporting. I was getting 1000+ views back in March, so I would think the numbers would be more comparable. Also, I'm pretty much high as possible on search ranking stats (4.9 rating, 2 min response time, 100% response rate).

  • nowren
    nowren Posts: 3

    I hit my max budget of $150 in about 12 hours yesterday, so I will probably get no more leads for the whole week. I do remote lessons, so I pretty much respond to every opportunity to get into those markets. I hit my old budget after my first lead yesterday, so I increased it, then hit it after 1 more lead, then increased to 150, and hit after 5 leads. Seems insane that I will have to put a puget of $300+ just to receive leads more than one day a week, and even then I don't think it will last all the way until Monday.

    I had multiple calls and chats with thumbtack, not one person said anything about the max lead price. I was throwing the blame on the preload balance, because they advertised that and tried really hard to get me to send them free money. Not one time did they mention the max lead price, and it was automatically set to $20, at least $10 lower than any lead I received yesterday. I could not believe when I saw the 1800 to 8 lead change, and this feature was never mentioned in any kind of advertisement or email the way sending free money with the preload balance to them was.

  • Hi @nowren, thanks for the added confirmation. And yes, this information was surprisingly hard to come by, though in my case I think it's academic because I'm pretty sure I didn't have the max lead price feature until recently. Maybe I somehow didn't notice it, but I did frequently poke around and recall just suddenly noticing it one day a couple weeks ago.

    And yes, leads are now severely expensive. By my rough estimates (which will become more precise as the weeks and months go by), Thumbtack's cut of my earnings is somewhere between 30% and 50%. It's hard to say whether this is what Thumbtack intends, but if it is I think it's greedy.

  • AnonymousTutor
    AnonymousTutor Posts: 4
    edited September 6

    @nowren , I am curious about your responding to opportunities. Do you mean you send messages to all opportunities in the "Opportunities" section? I sometimes do that, but have only ever had one person respond from there. I asked someone at Thumbtack if responding to these improves search ranking, and they said no, but I am curious if your experience has been otherwise. I agree regarding the new pricing of leads, both with you & @GoodQuestionTutoring , but still don't seem to be generating that flood of leads in the first place.

  • nowren
    nowren Posts: 3

    Pre-pandemic I was not doing as much business. I used to offer lessons at students homes. Since going remote at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a huge surge of jobs available in the opportunities section. I would always respond to whatever I saw, and in 2020 got a lot of work from opportunities. This was really great, but where it really helps is by responding to leads outside of your local market.


    I am in Southern CA, so anytime I saw something in another state I would send a message. After sending the message, the apt prompts asking if you would like more leads in this area. Tapping yes will place your profile into the list of profiles that people in that area will be able to choose from by just browsing through pros for your service. (This only works in the mobile app. The website will prompt and ask if you would more leads, but upon confirming there is an error and there is no way to get this prompt again for that opportunity, that I have found at least.)

    For about the last year my response rate to opportunities has gone down to zero. I think this is also due to a change in thumbtack allowing an unlimited number of people respond to opportunities ( sometimes is see 10 pros responded). The value is in getting you name on that zip code/areas search page which costs nothing unless they respond to you, at which point it is a bonus because of the new potential business.

    Hope this helps. Leads in other markets are significantly pricier, but getting into them if you offer remote services is invaluable.

  • That is really helpful to know, thank you so much. @GoodQuestionTutoring & I have been chatting via email if you'd like to join in, it sounds like we're all running comparable operations and could each benefit from connecting. If so, just message me your email and we can get some correspondence going.