Surewest Launches Search-Driven Internet Yellow Pages
The Kelsey Group Client Alert: Volume III, Issue 1, January 7, 2004
Greg Sterling, Managing Editor, Kelsey Group
Used with permission of The Kelsey Group
In the first instance of what The Kelsey Group anticipates will be a trend over the next two years, SureWest Directories has introduced a newly upgraded Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and White Pages product (www.surewest.loqal.com) that uses keyword search as its primary navigational tool. The Roseville, California-based local exchange carrier and directory publisher formerly used Innovectra to publish its IYP, but turned to Palo Alto start-up PremierGuide to design and host its new online product.
SureWest Directories General Manager Mark Triplett describes the new offering as a hybrid of search and IYP. “You’re getting the Google search experience that we all know and love, but the Yellow Pages content,” explains Triplett. Indeed, the new SureWest directory combines search’s intuitive ease of use and the structured content of Yellow Pages to create what Triplett contends is the best of both worlds.
The interface is simple, with one box for location and another one for keyword. There are three tabs above the search fields: Yellow Pages, White Pages, and Reference Pages. Within Yellow Pages there are also three tabs – one that features general business listings that can be sorted by alpha order or distance; one for advertiser listings that feature thumbnails of print ads; and a third for coupons. There are also links to maps for each business listing.
The new format provides additional ways for SureWest to monetize the IYP. For example, there are “Featured Businesses” tile ads in a right-hand column. Currently, those ads are not sold on the basis of pay-per-click, but they could easily be set up as performance-based ads in the future.
The Bottom Line: While the interface isn’t perfect, SureWest’s new online directory represents a strong leap forward in terms of ease of use. As TKG has been counseling and predicting, keyword search over a structured Yellow Pages database is the form factor for IYP that we expect to see increasingly in the months and years ahead. This is not to say that browsing by heading/category will disappear. But the intuitive and generally greater usability of keyword search as a navigational tool is the direction that IYP should go to maintain and grow usage. SureWest’s online directory, as well as select other new developments in IYP, will be the subject of a forthcoming DD:ILM Advisory and, later this quarter, a more comprehensive treatment will be the focus of a joint TKR-DDLILM White Paper, “Reinventing IYP.”