In order to upgrade from just a city listing to a county listing, I would need to hand over $1,500 per county (Massachusetts has 14 counties) per month. That’s $21,000 a year just to have my business listed for all of Massachusetts. If I wanted to do a national campaign, I could snag the great discount price of $4,900 a month (which is $58,800 a year for those keeping track). Here’s the kicker—for my money my listing could see a staggering 60 searches a month. Not leads, not visitors, searches. That’s $25 per search! If I told a prospective SEO client that I was going to charge them $25 per search, they would hang up immediately and I would be out of business real quick. Think about it–even a local business like a restaurant is more likely to advertise on Yelp or the radio than spend that kind of money on a Yellow Pages placement.
I politely told the Yellow Pages representative I wasn’t interested in upgrading my account at this time.
So, what does my encounter with Yellow Pages have to do with SEO? First off, I truly believe that Yellow Pages are not long for this world. While the brand and consumer trust factor are still there, the company has failed to adapt to a changing marketplace. How people find, gather and sort information has radically evolved in the last few years and is constantly changing. Any business, not just Yellow Pages, that fails to recognize the online world is changing is going to get left behind. Steadfastly clinging to the way things used to be will not help your online business grow and be successful.
No matter if you are white hat, grey hat or black hat, part of being successful in SEO means learning to roll with the punches. Search engines are constantly rolling out updates to the ranking algorithms and various factors are being given more or less importance all the time. Social media has completely revamped the search atmosphere and mobile is poised to do the same in coming years. Google has 200 factors and some of them are out of our control, so we have to make the most of what we can for ourselves and our SEO clients to help them succeed. Sticking to an SEO model/process that is no longer effective isn’t helping anyone.
In the past 13 years (that I have worked in SEO and web marketing), I have not heard the online Yellow Page profiles or advertising actually generating any business for at least the past 6+ years. I would love to hear actual success stories from anyone that has gotten a lead (or even a client!) from their Yellow Pages listing in 2011. Was it a onetime fluke or can you really make a living with that listing? In my experience, it just isn’t worth the money but I would love to hear from anyone who could prove me wrong!