I’ve been reading a lot lately about the death of the yellow pages, however, much of what I read is anecdotal. There is little doubt that yp usage is slipping but the reports I read would have you believe that it is already buried. Usage is down less than 15% in the past 8 years… the year it was originally predicted to die (the year that the always-on internet tipped). And if you look at the top headings the ROI is about the same as 8 years ago, according to Dr Fromholzer, whose evidence is based on metered lines, thousand of them.
Most recently the bell was rung by Chris Silver Smith a person with considerable knowledge of the industry, in fact when he left Superpages a few years ago they came up first in Google for the term yellow pages, and they haven’t since his departure. He was careful to limit his prediction to 10 years from now… but is that what people will read and re-tell? Or will they just read the word dying… I think the latter.
To be successful, small business owners need to focus on the here and now and right now the yp is still a powerful tool. In fact, the small business that just hired me gets 50% of their business from yp and 15% from the internet. My job is to get that number to 25%… (a wonderful assignment). In my heart of hearts I believe I’ll do a bit better but this is a very good example of how powerful the yp still are.
And often, the results are often sooooo much better than you find in Google in large measure due to spam, check out these reults where Google goes 0 for 10, that’s right out of 10 in the local one box not one listing is helpful as a single spammer has overwhelmed the results:
There are thousands of results for this locksmith across all of North Jersey. Most of which are pointing at a single website… which I’ll let you find for yourself, I won’t link to it even with “no-follow”, sorry. I will tell you this though, the website is written in Latin, which one would think, Google could easily detect as spam.
David Mihm has recently written about filtering urls that are obviously spamming and in this case his solution would have gone a long way to solving the problem. Mike Blumenthal has written a ton about cleaning up results like these but Google has left us with only confusing instructions.
One could easily envision a searcher abandon their search for a garage door repairman and grab a yellow pages given the above results, don’t you think? Maybe in 10 years, Google will have it worked out and Chris Silver Smith will be right… but until then Small Business Owners: You need to maximize both media.