For years I worked as a Yellow Pages sales rep for Verizon Information Services which later became Idearc Media/SuperMedia . Out of all of Texas and Florida sales, and from what I knew the entire country, I was the only sales rep in the state of Texas who knew jack squat about SEO and/or Pay Per Click advertising. Most sales reps had little experience actually building and managing pay per click campaigns. I was the exception. I avidly studied search engine marketing strategies and applied them since early 2002. I was once one of the Highest Ranked Sales Representatives at Verizon/Idearc.
I left the company when I finally realized that they didn’t have a clue what small business owners really wanted or needed in a search engine marketing strategy. The company provided horrible pay per click campaigns that had management fees starting at $250.oo per month for basic acct management (mostly just a build and lots of bologna “web event” reporting) and the price went up as high as 1000.00 per month for a 12 month contract. What was so bad about this was the fact that they didn’t spend as much as an hour per month on a clients campaign and initially used the “taxonomy” or categories for SuperPages.com as keyword research! Crazy I tell you! What was even worse was that the Yellow Pages Publisher had a mandatory “burn rate” of ( a requirement to spend) 85% regardless of value. Of course you can’t justify a bill for these outrageous management fees if the client has no click charges. I recall at one-time a campaign manager told me he was on “gag order” not to tell clients he was actually required to “manage” over 100 campaigns! Can you believe that?
So, what do you do? You get involved. You find out why the client is not getting the value the so-called product managers told you about. I know why it doesn’t work! Search is a verb… not a noun. It is not a product. It is an approach. It takes service and a holistic approach to recognize that search is more than just local, or social, or web. Search marketing is Facebook, Twitter, blogs, videos, links, keywords, websites, search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com and much much more. Consider this:
Google has over 147 million unique visitors, or different computers (IP Addresses) that visit it’s site every single month…. and growing!
Yahoo.com has over 130 million unique visitors.
CitySearch.com has 20.8 million unique visitors.
YellowPages.com has over 14.7 million, it used to be around 20 million on average.
and coming in last is what once was the industry leader, www.SuperPages.com with only 8.2 million unique visitors and dropping like a rock. The site used to have over 25 million unique visitors. So while traffic is on the rise for Google and other local search sites, it is declining rapidly for SuperPages.
Why you may ask? They lost Briggs Ferguson the former CEO of CitySearch recently as the Vice President of Internet. They also lost a few key SEO folks. (not including Chris Silver Smith who did an amazing job in the early days and left sometime ago.)
Do you really want to know what hurt the yellow pages companies so bad? Besides the fact that urban American’s with iPhones, Droid phones, smartphones, office computers no longer want the limited amount of information contained in a phone book……. the real problem is fragmentation! Local search is extremely fragmented. There are so many sites now that do a better job of organizing the web, such as not A-Z for starters, and many of the Internet Yellow Pages sites just didn’t keep up. When it comes to organizing local information, sites like Kudzu.com, Yelp.com, Local.com, Facebook, and many others are simply doing a better job. It isn’t just about organizing information, it is about things like breadcrumb navigation and something Chris Smith spoke about at the DFWSEM.org meeting regarding local search, USABILITY. You have go to be willing to change. You have go to be creative. Copying a gimmick, like the one created by ServiceMagic.com called the ServiceGuarantee and relabeling it the SuperGuarantee is not going to get you millions of subscribers…. well maybe a million or two… but that really isn’t allot these days! Remember, Google has 147 MILLION Unique Visitors. What do all the successful sites have in common? Their results pages show up on Google. Not so much in urban areas as it is rural markets with limited competition. It is easy to rank in Dunn Tx…. but to rank high on Google for Dallas Tx takes a bit more search (remember, it is a verb!)
So what is wrong with buying advertising from a local directory site? Why sign a contract when Google Maps Page Place Listing Optimization is less expensive and guaranteed to generate more traffic for your advertising investment! Unless your Internet Yellow Pages site is ranking high on Google for your particular keywords, I would not recommend signing a contract for an “Identity Bundle” or for so-called click guarantees or “web events”.
SuperPages.com is no longer as important as it once was because the site has to buy more clicks from Google since it is no longer ranking as well for those local keyword terms…… but if I recall, it still ranks #1 or #2 for Plumbers in Dallas Tx though! Superpages gave up on good SEO. They used to do a pretty good job at it. Not so much anymore. They still don’t offer SEO to small business clients. Why? You think they have churn now, wait til you ask them to invest 10-15 hours per month on a clients program….. yeah right! That will never happen. Especially considering how fast they are laying off to reduce expenses for investors!
Local Search is changing. Sites like Gowalla and FourSquare are making a big impact. So is image search, real-time search, and social media. I bet Facebook is going to be a very big player in Local Search soon.
My advice is for local small and medium-sized business owners to stay clear of yellow pages sales reps who try to sell internet advertising. They don’t know what it really takes to get a great ROI from Internet advertising. I was one of the few. But hey, I was the guy who was not old enough to drive a company car and thus was not able to get promoted! I was also the only guy in Texas Sales to receive 3 President’s Awards!
If you choose to advertise with smbSEO instead of the yellow pages, we will save you 20% off our normal rates. Why? Well, most sales reps earn a 20% commission just for “making the sale.” So if we don’t have to sell you, you save us and our existing clients money! This is worth money and a penny saved is a penny earned!
Oh yeah, what are some of my other concerns with “Yellow Pages Advertising”:
-Clients never own the campaign
-Campaign manager changes daily
-A/B ad testing never takes place
-You cancel your campaign, your information is used for a competitor
-Going direct to the engines allows for faster changes, they don’t do it like that!
-You pay for some 10.00 per hour rookie to experiment and learn on your click budget!
-THEY DO NOT HAVE A CLUE HOW GREAT A VALUE BEING RANKED HIGH ON GOOGLE IS WORTH. The clicks are FREE! The only cost is the service performed to get you ranked at the Top of Google and other search engines.
One reason for the cluelessness…… they have never seen an analytics report!
Let’s see… what else?
-The try to spend all your money on “The YellowCrook Internet Directory Network” which is barely in the “TOP 50″ or all websites and is now less popular than CitySearch.com!
So, beyond the fake “Google AdWords Sales Certifications” the Google Partner Program offered them, the same program the Google is looking to end due to the churn from these so-called partners, there are many reasons not to advertise with sites like SuperPages.com….
Your business deserves special treatment. You deserve a local Dallas Google Guru!
At smbSEO we don’t require 12 month contracts like the Yellow Pages companies do for internet advertising. We also don’t have attorneys and collection agents on retainer to hound our clients. We are a boutique search marketing agency for local small business owners in Dallas Fort Worth Tx. Give us a call to schedule a consultation at your office. We provide our services face to face. We look forward to meeting you!
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and if you want to read more about YellowCrooks, visit www.YellowCrooks.com, a discussion forum about Yellow Pages CEO Fraud and Reviews.
And investors wonder why the stock declined 15% Q1 of 2009 and then 21% more in Q1 of 2010…. at that pace they will be a 1.6 billion dollar company by 2013. Just think…. in 2004 the company had 3.5 billion in earnings! Talk about the Death of the Phone Book!