The popular conception seems to be that yellow pages serve their primary purpose by keeping uneven table legs more stable, elevating TV sets for slightly better reception, or otherwise serving a less-than-informational purpose. A recent survey from the Burke-sponsored Local Search Association contradicts this, however, showing that not only are yellow page still in use – they’re more popular than web searching.
The study surveyed 8,000 adults in the United States, and the findings go against a lot of pre-conceptions, including the idea that search engines had “killed” yellow pages. While “print directories,” a category that includes both yellow and white pages, surpassed search engines in annual use (78% of users having used a print copy of the yellow or white pages within the last year, compared to 76% for search engines), search engines still surpass print directories for monthly use (67% for search engines compared to 55% for print directories).
Yellow pages really make their showing when you combine online and offline versions of yellow pages. When looking at these two mediums combined, 84% of surveyed users say they used yellow pages at least once per year and 62% said they used yellow pages in the last month. That puts the yellow pages marginally above search engines when keeping in mind both the annual and monthly use, but frequent use isn’t the only factor evaluated by the study.
More users said yellow pages or print directories are their most trusted source for information, with 51% and 45% respectively compared to 41% for search engines. Notably, social networks (another option on the list) only had a 1% “top trust” rating, contradicting much of the pop wisdom (especially that pushed by Bing) that says most users are turning to their social network to make decisions on local businesses. Yellow pages and print directories also outranked search engines for being viewed as the most accurate source of local business information, the best source to use first, and the most convenient resource for local business data.
The demographic data for the study hasn’t been applied to the data, so it’s difficult to say if these figures should be blamed on the “older generations.” Still, it’s clear that businesses shouldn’t ignore yellow pages, and the search engines still have a big gap to fill to be the most trusted source for local business information.
[via Search Engine Land]