You Know You Are a Yellow Pages Site If..

Last week as I was reviewing, reading, blogging about the Yellow Pages, the question struck me. What defines a  web site to be a Yellow Pages site? Now I had read this post IYP Reach in the US (according to Google)which lists a good number of IYP sites but is there some characterisitc they all have?

Is it the logo or some variation on the “fingers doing the walking”?
Using a lot of yellow on the site?
Does the word Yellow need to be in the name some how?

Well, I decided I would ask a few friends and this is what they said:

Andrew Shotland: it’s sort of a you know one when you see one thing.  Certainly if you use the “Yellow” thing like Twellow does that’s a good sign.

Dick Larkin: Two things:  1. Total listings of all businesses in a market. Generally licensed from Infousa, Acxiom, Amacai, ibegin and 2. Some additional value to certain advertisers.

Tim Coleman: Good question Larry, it made me think.  I think what separates yellow pages from other directories is the information at the listing level.  The listing or ad in YP will always contain an address and telephone number, even if the address is sometimes limited… like Atlanta area.  An indication of location will be provided.

David Mihm: I’m not sure the distinction between a website or directory vs. a bonafide “Yellow Pages” site is all that relevant anymore.  The offline and online worlds are blurring together, and the YellowPages no longer owns the monopoly on the best data set.  But I guess I would probably define a Yellow Pages site as one that relies primarily on data from InfoUSA or Acxiom to populate its index, whereas a non-YP site would have a different primary data source (like Localeze, etc.).

The Yellow Pages have been so far behind the curve online that it is almost laughable for such a major, major industry.  They’re trying hard to catch up but Google is now the start page for just about everyone, and there are other Local business portals like Yelp and Citysearch that have built a far superior online brand than the YP’s even if people go beyond big G.

Thanks guys.  What do you think?

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  1. You know, that is a good question, Larry, and one I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself before.

    While I like the ‘yellow’ idea, I think I’d go with David’s statement on this. The lines really are blurring.

    Nice post!

  2. Curious question this, for the reason that in most parts of the world the term yellow pages and its variants (YP, IYP) are very much generic terms – except for the United Kingdom. We (http://www.brownbook.netfell a little foul of the UK Yellow Pages (the company is Yell Group PLC) for use of the term Yellow Pages there, because its a (very rigorously) defended trademark. It amazes me that they are still able to defend this, when it is such a generic term everywhere else.

  3. One day I will be able to read a story about local search without having to read a plug about Brownbook in the comments …

    The Yellow Pages is pretty much generic *only* in the US. Canada, UK, NZ, etc etc – it is a TMed term. So not sure about ‘in most parts of the world.’

    Just to note Larry – that post of mine was never explicit about YPs, IYPs, etc etc. I just pulled up every site that had anything to do with local search and then listed the sites with a minimum of 0.1% US reach.

  4. Larry, this is a great post. In my opinion there’s a big difference in the way an IYP and a City Guide (like CitySquares) generate and retain traffic. I think that an IYP isn’t poised to capture traffic through SEO, instead they intend to build much more of a destination site, which is lovely, but hard to do unless you have a really powerful brand, which some might argue they do. Also, an IYP isn’t providing other kinds of content like news, events etc., city guides tend to do that, like CitySquares. What do you think?

  5. I am pretty sure they are all into SEO.

    SERP keywords generating traffic (according to Compete): – 39k keywords – 30k keywords
    Yelp – 31k
    Citysearch – 57k keywords
    Yellowbot – 6k keywords

    # of Pages in Google: – 600k – 21 million – 22 million
    Yelp – 5 million
    Yellowbot – 9 million

    I am also pretty sure pretty much everybody now provides user reviews.

    Should have asked me Larry 😉

    “Traditionally – YP sites are just an extension of an existing yellow pages book. But nowadays – its all really the same”

  6. I stand by my original statement – you know one when you see one 🙂

  7. It would be too generous to say that most IYPs are “into SEO”. Most are not and I know that such sites cannot be optimised quickly for the same reasons that large corporate sites can’t (silos, bureaucracy, cost, interdependencies etc).

    I suggest loading Firefox with Searchstatus and highlight no-follows. That’s a quick way to tell which sites have *begun* SEO. From Ahmed’s list:

    Many have implemented PR sculpting (or basic no-follows).

    Many have individual profile pages

    Some pay attention to title/H1/metas

    Some let you (er, spiders) browse by headings

    Some pay attention to file/path names

    Some have gone overboard with RoS backlinks

  8. Great conversation!

    Yes Ahmed you will be the first one I ask next time!

    For the consumer/searcher out there I do not think they wlll care what site they use, as long as they get the info. I like Ben’s comment on the other content provided (or not) on the sites.

    I also like David’s comment on the relevancy of the distinction.