The answer is no. As far as SEO is concerned, your business DOES NOT need to pay to be listed on Yellow Pages. This is a question that comes up often when I talk to small businesses about their online marketing efforts. Majority of business owners receive phone calls from YP (Yellow Pages) representatives with offers of getting to top of category results. These are often misinterpreted as Google results, as opposed to Yellow Pages search categories. Before we get into more detail let’s go over a quick overview of YP and why they’re reaching out to small businesses.
NOTE: this is in no way promoted by, or intended to bash Yellow Pages. Simply a point of view due to increasing amount of questions that come up regarding this topic.
YP’s Transition to Digital
For those of you that may not remember (not sure how many readers wouldn’t) but Yellow Pages used to provide printed phone books. They were big, clunky books full of local numbers both business and personal. They offered advertising listings for businesses; you pay for the size, position and features of ad you wanted. With the phone book becoming outdated Yellow Pages has made a transition into the digital world. They’ve basically evolved into an online listing directory that you can find here: https://www.yellowpages.ca/ (they’ve also added sub-categories for dining, grocery, etc).
YP for Business
With their business services they’ve basically become an online marketing agency of sorts. Catered for mainly small, local businesses, YP’s goal seems to be to become a digital marketing provider to get more visitors and calls going to local businesses who use their services. They offer a number of different options for businesses (which I will not get into, but you can go beyond just YP listings with their business services), as you can see by the screenshot below:
For the purposes of the discussion here we will focus on comparing two different aspects that most small businesses are approached on:
- Priority Placement
- Free Listing
Priority Placement (Paid Listing)
The idea with this Priority Placement service is to get your business listed at the top of a specific category and/or keyword search on YP.ca. This is the important part to keep in mind. Getting ranked in top results specifically when someone searched on YP.ca not on Google (or other search engines). Most people get confused with this part because when they get the impression the ranking will be on Google, but it is actually specific to the YP.ca search results only.
As you can see by the second point mentioned in their service above, this Priority Placement is intended for their own search engine on YP.ca. The tricky part is the last point that mentions grabbing attention from other search engines. This makes it sound as if your specific business/website will be grabbing attention on Google, Yahoo!, etc.
However, what happens is that it is in fact YP coming up in search results which then might show your business if someone clicks through to YP.ca. And for many business owners who are unfamiliar with SEO and Google rankings in general this all sounds extremely invite or confusing. I think the best way to show what happens is by example.
This is the general flow chart of how this “attention grabbing” from other search engines works with their Priority Placement:
Just as an example, I recently had to get my roof inspected for potential leaks and performed a search for local roofing companies in Kitchener. As you can see Yellow Pages does come up in top results – but their Roofers categories come up, NOT your roofing company/website:
So now, I have clicked on the YP.ca category ranking and it took me to the page where they list all the roofing companies in the area. At the top of the list you will see all the roofing companies who have paid for a Priority Listing. They will come up first in this category as indicated by the “sponsored” text above each image. This is what YP.ca Priority Listing is – coming up first for specific categories and search terms on THEIR website specifically:
If you scroll down, after a few Priority Listing companies you will come to the free listing section. So technically if you have a free listing you will still have visibility just like Priority Listing companies, however your listing will come after the Priority Listing companies:
Free YP Listing
As far as SEO services for YOUR OWN website go, this is the listing we recommend you go with with YP. While your business won’t get priority listed at the top of their categories it will still be present for all those looking to do in-depth research for a specific services, just as I did for my roofing contractor. This listing is entirely free of charge. However, as soon you sign up and get listed you will most likely be solicited by a sales representative trying to get you to sign up for a Priority Listing (and perhaps more) with YP. Everything with the free listing is similar to the Priority Listing with the exception that it doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t get you on top of their own YP search results.
What Should My Small Business Do?
My recommendation is to stick with the free listing and find an SEO service similar to the one we provide. Not to be self promotional but it is better to get your own web pages and website ranked directly on Google (and similar search engines) than to rely solely on YP and other similar directory listings (whether you hire someone to do the work on your behalf, or you try to do it on your own). With that being said, if you’re a local business and think that people might find you on YP to compare to competitors you can always supplement your own organic rankings with a Priority Listing. Keep in mind that most of these services are contract based – so if you do decide to go with any sort of paid listing or service you will have to lock into a specified time period.
There you have it! Hopefully that clears up some confusion with respect to YP listings. I would love to hear from anyone who has used their paid listings or other services. How was your experience? Are you still advertising with YP? Did you try to rank your own website instead?