Many people when considering buying a new car will spend time to research, they will find out about safety tests, fuel economy and warranties.
Then they go off to the car showroom and say “wow I’ll have the shiny red one with the cool headlights”.
Then your new car is delivered and you realise it’s too big to fit in the garage, your four kids can’t fit in a two seater sports car and the warranty is written in Mongolian.
The same thing happens when people choose an online dating website to join. Dating sites are designed to make you click without thinking, let’s be honest you just want to start meeting new and exciting people now and not read the small print, which is what most sites rely on.
You will see buttons all over the site with huge bold text telling you to “start searching now” but you never see one that say “recurring charges will apply, sign up now” or “this is an affiliate site, click here and you will go to a different website but I will get some cash to help buy my new shiny red car with the cool headlights”.
If you are just after some online fun then go ahead, click without thinking and get chatting now. Free sites would be a good option for you as they tend to have quantity of members.
The trouble with clicking straight away is you have no idea what you are signing up to, it won’t be until you try to cancel your membership that you find out you have to call a number in the US between 6am and 7am on the third Tuesday of the month or that your profile is now their property and you can’t delete it, so after you are married with four kids and a sports car your profile is still in cyberspace … I suppose it will give your kids something to laugh about.
However, if you are serious about finding a long term relationship then follow this guide for choosing the right website for you:
1. Check the site to see how many members are in your area but DO NOT start reading profiles just yet. At this stage you are choosing a service, not a person and reading profiles (if there are nice ones on the site) will get you joining up without knowing what you are signing up to.
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the selected site’s pages and look for the small links to all the boring blurb. You are looking for a site that is transparent, the links will include such things as pricing (is it recurring charges), faq’s (look for how to cancel and if it deletes your profile) and contact us (does it give real contact details or just an email address?).
3. Does the site offer online dating help and advice, either through a site page or a blog like this one. They don’t have to be mad bloggers like me but if a site offers no advice or bad quality advice (ie would fit on the back of a stamp) then it’s a sure sign they are not going to offer good customer services. Scammers are rife on some internet dating sites so the least they should offer you is information on how to spot them.
4. Open a new tab or window in your browser and search for the website name, add search terms like problem, sucks or bad (eg baddatingsite+problems). Any dating service will have a few unsatisfied members that will complain about their site but what is important is what they are complaining about, see how many there are with the same complaint .. too many is a bad sign. A tip, don’t look on the first couple of pages of the search results, that will be full of their own content, go back a couple of pages and you may see forum posts where people are complaining.
5. Look up “whois-search”, just pop their web address in there and look for the registration date of the website, my sites whois search is here so you know what you are looking for. If they boast a million members and the site was only registered three weeks ago then you know they are either fibbing and are a new affiliate site or have a site full of fake profiles. Of course they could buy an old domain name but it is worth looking.
6. Search for reviews of the site but remember most reviews are written by the site owner or staff. One way to tell if a review is written themselves is that it will be stuffed with keywords and rarely reads naturally (eg This site for countryside dating is a great online dating site for farmer dating – that is written for search engines and not people). To demonstrate, this is a review of Country Couples (my site) and you can see I have written the original review and asked a couple of members of my site to add their comments. Look to see how many people have added to the review, usually none but if it’s a good site and they have happy members you will find reviews their members have added.
7. Now look at the site to see what sort of free trial you get. Register for free just means you can add a profile but can you look around the whole site, can you send 1 or 2 messages or flirts before you pay the subscription charge. My sites pricing page says “Free Membership – this gives access to the site plus 5 flirts and 3 emails, enough to enable you to decide whether you wish to join as a full member.” Only choose sites that let you try before you buy.
8. So you have found a site with good reviews or comments, their policies are transparent and they offer a free trial. NOW you can sign up and start reading profiles. How many of the members near you are like-minded? It’s no good joining a site with thousands of members if the site is called “dating for smokers” and you can’t stand the smell of smoke.
9. The first message you send should not be to someone you fancy the look of but to admin. Ask anything, like how do I know when someone has sent me a message. All you are sending the message for is to find out if admin reply, did they answer your actual question and how long did it take to answer. If admin are not responsive then don’t pay to join, if the customer service is bad on day one then imagine what it will be like when you have a real problem.
The examples I have used are all for my own dating site, which is specifically designed for daters in the UK with a love of the countryside and are not there to entice you to join … unless you are from the UK and love the rural life … but i hope they will help you to see what you should be looking for when choosing an online dating service.