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Yellow Page Advertising, Part 5: Google Search vs. Internet Yellow Pages

I always find it interesting (and refreshing) when a search marketing company has something positive to say about the Yellow Pages. As someone who ran a web development business for over 5 years, I can certainly understand their bias. But it seems that the folks over at Search Engine People have decided to go with the facts rather than anecdotal evidence regarding the effectiveness of Yellow Page advertising.

Blogging on this topic, Tom Tsinas looked at one of his client’s year-to-date website analytics. Comparing the number of visits that came from Google to those that came from Internet Yellow Page (IYP) sites like Superpages, he found that, overwhelmingly, Google won for sheer volume of traffic: 5,504 to 1,261.

But digging deeper, he found something interesting about the quality of traffic that came from the Internet Yellow Page sites.

He found that the bounce rate (i.e., number of initial visitors who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the site) was much higher with the Google visitors: 55.04 percent compared to 27.07 percent. He also found that the IYP visitors spent more time on the site, visited more pages, and that almost all of them were new visitors to the site. His conclusion?

Clearly Yellow Page visitors are more engaged than Google’s. They also 100% less likely to bounce, view 20% more pages, spend 12% more time on the site and, with almost 90% of the traffic being from people who’d never been to the site, reach a different audience!

Regarding the quality vs. quantity of traffic, Dick Larkin of WebListic, Inc., an Internet marketing firm, puts it like this:

…there are more searches on Google in a few days than there are in all the IYPs combined for a year. However, the QUALITY of users on IYPs is much higher than of general web search. I define quality as how close the searcher is to making a buying decision.

See, it’s easy to fire off a few hundred searches on Google before taking any action. However, on a typical Internet Yellow Pages, you have to enter multiple pieces of information (keywords, location, state, etc.) which is more time consuming, and also filters out searchers who aren’t really interested in finding a local business.

Someone searches an IYP when they’re serious about local information.

This makes sense. A large percentage of people using search engines like Google are likely to be in research mode rather than buying mode. But people who use Internet Yellow Pages have already decided to buy and are merely looking for a local merchant from whom to buy. In a joint study, TMP Directional Marketing and comScore found that IYP sites such as and account for 60 percent of local IYP business searches, while sites such as Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo! Local account for 40 percent of local IYP business searches.

This demonstrates that, when searching for local information, people tend to use IYP Yellow Pages more than search engines, making it a viable tool to reach consumers who have already made a buying decision. In a business climate where targeting the right consumer is mission critical, I ask: How much more targeted can you get than “ready to buy”?

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