Once upon a time, whenever a consumer needed to find a local restaurant, dry cleaner, plumber, TV repairman, florist or pretty much anything, they lugged out the big yellow book. Known as the Yellow Pages, the big yellow book provided a complete listing, by category, of all of the businesses in the consumer’s local area.
The Yellow Pages concept became so popular that as business began to shift online in recent years, so did the yellow pages solutions. Small internet publishers and large phone companies alike have flooded the net with an online version of the local directories, most notably AT&T’s YP.com, Dex Media’s Superpages.com, and Yellowbook.com from hibu Inc.
Just as consumers naturally turned to the big yellow book in print, they turned to the online version. A few years ago, Experian/Hitwise reported “yellow pages” to be one of the top 50 search terms across all online search engines.
Along Came Google As The Way To Search For Local Businesses
One of the things consumers often found frustrating about the Yellow Pages was its limited number of categories. Sometimes it was difficult to determine in exactly what category to search for a particular product or service, whereas with Google and other search engines, they could simply type in a few words and be taken to the right place.
Businesses, on the other hand, found the concept of search engines to be quite a bit more daunting than the much simpler Yellow Pages. With Google’s constantly changing algorithms, the competitive AdWords marketplace, and the fluctuating nature of search engine marketing in general, it became very difficult and costly to achieve a high ranking on Google the way one could in the yellow pages, simply by having a business name that started with the letter A and paying for an advertisement.
So what is a business owner to do? Is Yellow Pages advertising still worth the cost? How does Yellow Pages rate versus the other local search platforms?
The Winner Of The Search Platforms for Local Businesses Is …
Further, even though yellow pages sites like YP.com and SuperPages provide a valuable service, the consumer often gets there by starting off on a search engine or social network.
While getting a high ranking on Google for category keywords may be difficult, it is important to update a business’ online platform. Once this is taken care of, it’s possible to augment this presence by purchasing advertising.
Having a social media presence across Google+, Facebook or Yelp is crucial for today’s local businesses, as customers want to feel connected and valued. Particularly, small businesses can gain more valuable (and free) advertising through social media than through any paid source. Customer review sites such as Yelp can make or break a business, so when a Yelp page is managed carefully, it can be invaluable to a local business.
Today’s Yellow Pages for Local Businesses
The key to getting the most from these online services is providing good products, value and customer service. In this electronic age, both good and bad experiences spread like wildfire. A medium that is capable of starting a revolution is certainly capable of causing a business to blossom or wither. Local business marketing is no longer “set it and forget it.” It must be managed, nurtured, and above all, lived up to.
Yellow Pages advertising should not be a priority for your local business. While it might be cost-effective for some types of businesses, your primary focus should be on your online presence and customer interactions if you want to build long-term customer relationships.