For a few years now our telephone has been ringing off the hook! Unfortunately when we answer the message it is often the same “get listed in our online Yellow Pages” or “we’re calling to update your listing in the online Yellow Pages”. One of the main reasons that we’re in business today is the decline that we saw as obvious: that all Yellow Page advertising would suffer, once the general public realized it was much easier to search the internet using a search engine, rather than thumbing through the Yellow Pages.
Few people actually search yellowbook.com , and if you search on Google at all you’ve probably noticed that most of the paid listings from the Yellow Pages aren’t anywhere near the top of the search results. So really, what benefit is there to updating your listing in a yellow book?
In recent years Google has essentially built and continues to refine its own telephone book. Originally it was called Google Local, then renamed Google Places, and in 2012 it has since been integrated with Google Plus. If your search calls for local business results, Google takes them from its own phone book. In the case of local search, you often find the top results are directly from Google Plus.
Google is a business and a publicly owned business at that; there is a need to show profits to shareholders. The primary source of income is advertising. Advertisements are shown all over search results, on Google’s other web properties, and also on their partner websites, which number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. The longer you stay on their own web pages, whether through search results, Google Maps, Google Places, Google Plus, You Tube or any of their other properties, the odds increase that you’ll click on an ad, and they’ll get paid.
If you speak with those knowledgeable about Google search engine results, many claim that the search quality has decreased in the last few years. In many ways this makes good sense; the longer it takes for you to find what you’re looking for, the greater the chance is that you’ll click on an ad. Considering the large control Google has in the search engine market, they only need to be careful not to decrease their quality so much that they cause an exodus to Bing.
Today most Americans rely so much on the search results provided by Google, they believe the results should be unbiased and serve their needs in the best possible way. This, however, is not the case. Google is not a public service; they are a private company. They must serve their stockholders before the needs of searchers. Already in Europe some countries have brought suit against Google to control how their ads are distinguished from their free organic search results. Google has become a force to be reckoned with, just like Microsoft was in the 1990s. With control of more than 64% of all web searches, ownership of their Android operating system that powers over 50% of all mobile phones, not to mention their recent purchase of Motorola Mobility that manufactures Motorola mobile phones, the economic future is looking strong at Google.
The Local Mover
Earlier this year we received a call from the owner of a local moving company. He told me his website story, a story about how he had been convinced by the local yellow pages people to buy his website from them. They promised listings in their online directory, and even more “top rankings on Google”. All they required was a small setup fee, $180 per month and a signature on a contract for a year’s service.
Eleven months had passed and his website was still nowhere to be found on Google. He was getting no leads and was out over two thousand dollars. He explained how he was a small operator, and that his budget wouldn’t allow him to invest another few thousand to accomplish what he believed he had already paid for. He asked if I would be willing to put together a website, keep his monthly bill not higher than he was already paying, and get him ranked well. This isn’t our standard business model, so I said, “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you in a few days”.
A few days passed, and I couldn’t get this man’s call out of my mind. Another unknowing first-time website owner, swindled out of his hard earned income. What did he get? A website that didn’t work properly and also didn’t rank well on Google. Worst of all, if anyone did visit the site they would come away with a first impression that the moving company was low-budget: the website looked cheap. It was quickly thrown together, with no attention to graphic appeal. It had no concern for visitor conversion. The over- optimized grainy images, couldn’t have taken more than a few hours labor. I decided that we could help. We would build an inexpensive, yet high quality site for the mover, and provide our SEO service up front at no cost, and bill him monthly. We’re a small business too, and it kills me to see other small business owners being so blatantly taken advantage of. Unfortunately, this scenario is wide spread. It happens every day, in every town, all across the USA and the world.
A few weeks after the new website launched, I had another call form the mover who said “Well you’ve done in two weeks what the Yellow Pages weren’t able to accomplish in a year!” “Now how do we go higher?” This call made me very happy. I had confidence that we could do the job, and the mover had the confidence to trust us with his online reputation. He found us through Google and saw some of the work we had done for clients.
We made small investment in this client that I know will be returned in the coming years as he tells his tale of being taken advantage of by the yellow pages and the success he gained working with us.