Local is As Local Does

Search Engines Trump Yellow Pages

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It looks like search engines have officially trumped the Yellow Pages when it comes to customers looking for local businesses. Data from comScore and TMP Directional Marketing shows that this year more people are turning to search engines after last year’s showed that Yellow Pages were on top.

What the Data Shows

While most people still use a variety of different methods to find a local business, the study found what people seem to prefer as their first choice for doing so:

1.  Search Engines (31%)

2.  Print Yellow Pages or White Pages (30%)

3. Internet Yellow Pages Sites (19%)

4.  Local Search Sites (11%)

Last year’s numbers had Print Yellow Pages at 33% and search engines at 30%. When it comes to online habits of consumers, the study shows that more people turn to the Internet Yellow Pages sites than the Local search sites like Google Maps and Yahoo Local, but I suspect the reason for this is that they don’t have to go to the actual local search sites to get the same results. If you search Google for a local business, you are likely to get the Google Maps results right at the top. The same goes for Yahoo (both illustrated below with a search for "pizza, lexington, ky").


Google Pizza search


Yahoo Pizza Search

What Businesses Need to Do

What businesses need to do to ensure their customers are finding them easily, is still to make sure they are listed in these local search results. For Google Maps, follow the following steps:

1. Sign in to the Google Local Business Center. If you don’t have a Google Account, sign up for one.

2. Return to Google Maps by clicking on the icon in the upper corner of the Local Business Center.

3. Search for your listing.

4. Click on the "More Info" link next your listing. This will expand the information window.

5. Click "Add or edit your business" under the address and phone number.

For Yahoo Local:

1. Search for Your Listing and click on it

2. Update your business contact information, hours of operation, business category, etc.

3. You can also invest in a "Local Enhanced Listing" according to Yahoo, which lets you include your company logo and tagline, up to 10 photos, a detailed description, inclusion in up to five business categories, and two customizable link to coupons or special offers.

Danny SullivanGoing Beyond That

Google and Yahoo are just two options of course. You can pursue listings with Microsoft, Mapquest, and others. It is also a good idea to make sure you have a site and it is up and running properly, because while the study shows that consumers often find the business listing online, and then turn to their phone to make the call, there is a pretty good chance they will still want to check out your site and see what you are all about. Unfortunately, a good number of businesses are just not getting this, as Danny Sullivan found out the hard way when he moved to a new town and couldn’t find working sites for the businesses he needed. Besides, the web can open up your business well beyond your local area.

"As consumer local search grows with online and offline resources, national advertisers must develop strategic plans for integrating the various mediums into their national programs," said Gregg Stewart, senior vice president of interactive, TMP Directional Marketing. "Our 2008 study again confirms that consumers do a majority of research online, but continue to make purchases offline with a phone call or in-store visit. Additionally, marketers need to pay close attention to mobile search and sites that offer consumer user reviews, as they are growing in popularity."

As the holiday season continues to draw near, the sooner businesses get on top of these things, the better. There has been data released indicating that consumers will increasingly spend more of their shopping time online, and if they can’t find you, they can’t buy from you. Do you really want to miss out on potential sales when you’re probably doing everything you can to save money in the first place?

Local is As Local Does
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  • Annalise

    eZanga.com is a search engine that launched an updated version of their site recently. They specialize in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising making it faster and easier to obtain search results, narrowing results based on relevancy and location which can drive more traffic to your business and/or website. eZanga gives full reporting and tracking of your Return on Investment (ROI) and offers more security with Traffic Advisors™, their own anti-click fraud technology.


  • Guest

    I would like to see those figures broken down locally.  I just moved from a suburb of New Orleans to a very rural area (closest major shopping area is 30 miles) We have several small Mom and Pop stores near us (10 miles) but none have a web presence. Yellow pages just got very important in my life.

  • http://www.tmdesigner.it Tmdesigner

    Finalmente l’ennesima prova concreta che innalza la potenza dei Search Engine, e l’importantissimo ruolo che ricoprono nel web marketing. Ottime informazioni per il settore seo! Thanks for the information!

  • http://www.rentboard.ca Guest

    Every try to find an apartment via local search in Canada? — no indication if a vacancy exists or not.  Specialized search engines for a vertical market such as apartment and rental listings are better, ie: The Rent Board of Canada at: http://www.rentboard.ca


  • http://toprankednow.com Jeff Davis


    I really enjoyed the results graph…

    That really makes it crystal clear,

    why brick and motar businesses,

    need entreprenuers to show them

    the ways of the google…

    Best Wishes,

    Jeff Davis CEO

  • http://www.foursquareinnovations.co.uk/ Internet marketer Leeds

    The better people learn to target local search and the better the local search results are going to be – unlike global search its not really an area in which websites can profit at all from indisriminate traffic, so this bodes well for better quality results once web site owners get the grip on how to harness it.


    Also, if you can keep targetting more and more areas, its a great way to grow your business organically with the ultimate aim of becoming a national company – so long as you can resource the right goods or services for your prospects in the right locations, then there’s a marketing model here for a lot of success.

  • https://www.ypassociation.org Stephanie Hobbs


    It’s great to see Internet Yellow Pages perform so well in this survey. And when you look at the whole picture, Yellow Pages still dominates local search with print and Internet Yellow Pages claiming 49 percent of the market. I think that’s a real testament to the fact that consumers know and trust our ability to pinpoint the local businesses that they’re looking for. Search engines trust us too; they use our databases of local information to help power the search results that they deliver.

    Stephanie Hobbs
    Yellow Pages Association

    • http://cabsin.com carl

      Yellow pages script needed please


    • http://www.OptiLocal.com Mike

      Good try Stephanie,
      It is funny how Yellow Pages reps and management continue to try to prop up their outdated directories…”we’re the best”, “we’re the biggest”, “we’re the oldest”.
      I think this is the same strategy Netscape used when Google came along, and AOL with broadband ISP’s.
      And I think it will eventually lead to the same results for the Yellow Pages both on and offline as it did for those two.

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Net Magellan

    Some IYPs such as the large one I work for have SEO’d their pages and receive a large % of their traffic via a Google search. e.g. "[placename] yellow pages".

    Such surveys should ask if the user reaches an IYP when they choose a search result, in which case they should supply "IYP" as their response and not "search engine".

  • http://www.Pocketsquarez.com PocketSquareZ com

    We think the yellow pages are get for advertising PocketSquareZ.com


  • http://www.ammanvalleydirectory.co.uk/ Sue Marshall

    This is great information that I will be using to show my local bricks and mortar business in Ammanford, I want to help them realize that a ton of people use the internet first to investigate what they are going to buy before stepping foot outside their front door and if they don’t get some kind of presence then people will find their competitors.



  • http://www.precisiononlinemarketing.com Will

    Thanks for the article Chris.  Revealing indeed.  I’ve instructed my clients as a matter of urgency to focus on local search results as the migration from offline ad venues continues towards online search trends.  In addition, this should raise all sorts of flags on how ad spend is being used, and the need for detailed keyword research for their web pages.  I just finished putting up a report about "websites that sell" at http://www.precisiononlinemarketing.com


  • http://silvergoldjewels.us/ Karl Werner

    Before I fill my gas tank I simply enter : gas prices and my zip code…and there you have it —  all the local prices. Look it up in the printed yellow pages… I don’t even get a phone book, I have a cell phone.

  • http://www.onedaywebsite.co.uk Tony

    Local search marketing is something that I’ve noticed businesses catching on to here in the UK. It’s something that I’m now integrating as standard into my low cost website design

  • http://www.yukselcicek.com i

    very thanks for infos

  • http://www.webfertile.co.uk Martin Hansen Lennox (WebFertile)

    This article highlights many issues that we’ve been pointing out to clients for years.  Nice one & thanks.

  • http://www.seowebmarketing.co.uk Guest

    Google Maps Marketing – Great article and thanks for some of the extra information given out in relation to mainly Mapquest and Microsoft.  I spend a lot of time web marketing via Google Maps for various companies as I do believe the UK will follow the USA in the way old fashioned "Yellow Pages" has hit the search engines rather than grapping the thick yellow cover from bookshelves. 

    "Our 2008 study again confirms that consumers do a majority of research online, but continue to make purchases offline with a phone call or in-store visit. Additionally, marketers need to pay close attention to mobile search and sites that offer consumer user reviews, as they are growing in popularity."

    You have confirmed a move in the right direction.  Thanx again Web Pro News! Have a lovely day! – Sue


  • http://www.seovisions.com SEO Company

    These statistics confirm what I see as well, work for clients getting listed in Yellow Pages and niche websites is dropping as SE’s revise and improve on their local search result technology.

  • http://www.MyMapInfo.com Guest

    I think you are right. Some people will cling to the printed yellow pages but Google Local maps is where it’s at for me and most people I know. Especially among people that work at computers all day. You are not going to look something up in the yellow pages. You are going to search it in Google. And the really great thing about searching in Google is you can refine the search. Need a dentist, need a dentist that has a Saturday appointment. Search dentist, city, saturday appointments, and if there are savy dentist out there who has included that infomation in their details or reviews, that listing is going to show up immediately in Google.

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