The other day I was talking to my daughter and mentioned looking something up in the yellow pages. She looked at me blankly and said, “You mean, look on Google?” I sighed and said yeah, but it made me think… Our youth in America today probably cannot recall a time when people opened the local yellow pages in a phone book instead of heading over to Google or Bing when they needed to find the name, phone number or address of a local business, even though phonebooks are still distributed across America.
But, believe it or not, yellow page companies and local directories not only maintain an online presence today, they are still a viable and a powerful local search tool, and according to our recent survey, stacks up well in search and on search results pages on Google and Bing.
Online yellow pages, or online directories, especially in niche markets, are very important to small businesses today. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that online directories continue to rank well for local searches, especially on search engines — where they most likely are the top search results.
Several studies have shown that even though many people think yellow page directories are dead, statistics today continue to point to the fact that directories actually match or surpass the big players in terms of online search performance and capabilities.
The results of a blind study found that online yellow pages and directories provide better overall local search results than search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. The data was measured based upon overall user satisfaction ratings collected over the course of a year.
Advice Local conducted a blind study to compare the local search results of online directories against local search engines from Google (Google Maps), Bing (Bing.com/Local) and Yahoo. The study tracked roughly 13,000 local search queries and gauged the success of each term based upon users’ satisfaction with the results.
Users involved in the blind study were presented with unbranded results from four search engines and multiple online yellow pages and directories for their local search queries and were asked to gauge the relevance of the results on a scale ranging from “invalid” to “perfect.”
During the blind study, online directories consistently came through with higher quality local search results according to users who graded the results as having greater relevance than those from Google, Yahoo and Bing. For example, the online directories we tested scored a user satisfaction rating of 86%. In each of those tests, Google and Yahoo finished second and third, respectively, while Bing finished in a distant fourth.
The study offered further details about the search query fields in which directory results were better than the competition, as well as fields in which directories matched their competitors. Among the following results, directories fared better than their competitors (percentages represent average user satisfaction rating for search term):
- Apartments (92%)
- Attorneys (98%)
- Auto Services (96%)
- Beauty Salons (96%)
Among the following results, online directory results were found to be on par with their competitors:
- Auto Salvage (79%)
- Colleges/Universities (94%)
- Hotels (92%)
- Movies Theaters (85%)
Other Recent Studies
Online directories provide better, or at least equal, local search experiences when compared with Google, Bing and Yahoo. In a recent study of the accuracy and completeness of local business data, the study found that the more powerful directories like Yelp, Angie’s List, Porch and Thumbtack beat out Google Maps, Bing, MapQuest and a host of other well-known providers when it came to data accuracy.
Many online directories insist that their ads or premium services offer lower costs and better value to online advertisers compared to Google’s powerful AdWords service. The study found that directory ads and premium services offered an average cost-per-call that was half that of AdWords. The study also concluded that directory ads and premium listings offered equal, or in some cases better, value for businesses.
It’s also important to note that the study found that some directory mobile ad networks were second only to Google in the US mobile advertising industry in terms of ROI.
Who Do We Believe?
In the end, online yellow pages and directories are still a very viable marketing channel, perhaps even more so today, and they are just as important for local search effectiveness as advertising on Google, Bing and Yahoo.