Google Vs Yellow Pages

by Tom Tsinas November 6th, 2007 

This battle is a lot closer than most of you can imagine. I'm constantly hearing about how the Yellow Pages are dying and there's no value in them. While most may say that I'm biased because of the number of years I spent in the industry, the same cannot be said for Google Analytics.

Google Analytics cannot lie, it has no biases and, thank goodness for the Yellow Pages, paints a much different picture than many so called experts. You just have to know what to look for.

Below you'll note one of our clients Year to Date Analytics numbers. Most likely you'll instinctively focus on the 'Visits' column, marvel at the 5,504 visitors referred by Google Organic Vs 884 referred by Yellow Pages and call it day. I decided to take a closer look.

Google Vs Yellow Pages


The Facts:

I knew that in Canada YellowPages.ca traffic is solid.

* 44% reach of all online Canadian
* 10.1 million Unique visitors in Q2, 2007
* Directory source for several online portals and wireless partners, including:

Google
Sympatico.MSN.ca
AOL.ca
Netscape.com
Bell Mobility
Canada.com
Cyberpresse.ca
Globeandmail.com
NationalPost.com
Telus Mobility

As a result, I drilled down on the Analytics and found the following following referring sites:

pagesjaunes.ca
superpages.ca
canada411.yellowpages.ca
sympatico.msn.yellowpages.ca
canada411.pagesjaunes.ca
areaguides.yellowpages.ca
mytelus.yellowpages.
aol.yellowpages.ca
canwest.yellowpages.ca

The Results:

I credited Yellow Pages for the referrals, bringing the total traffic numbers to 5,504 for Google and 1,261 for Yellow Pages. I know what you're thinking, that�s not much of a difference. That's true until you look at the following four key metrics:

1. Bounce Rate
(the percentage of single-page visits)
Google: 55.04%
Yellow Pages: 27.07%.
2. Pages Per Visit
(average number of pages viewed during a visit)
Google: 3.27
Yellow Pages: 3.93
3. Average Time Spent on Site
Google: 2.07
Yellow Pages: 2.29
4. Percentage New Visits
(percentage of visits by people who had never visited the site before)
Google: 87.07%
Yellow Pages: 89.24%

Conclusions:

Clearly Yellow Pages visitors are more engaged than Google�s. They're 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!

If you slice the numbers even further, subtract the bounce rate from the gross 'visits' number to reflect the possibility that this audience didn�t consider the site relevant to them. This reduces the totals to 2,474 visitors referred by Google Vs 921 referred by Yellow Pages.

Next time a client asks you if they should pull all of their advertising from Yellow Pages, check your ego at the door, and take a closer look at the numbers. As I said at the outset, it�s closer than you think.

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27 Responses to “Google Vs Yellow Pages”

  1. Interesting stuff here Tom.

    I also believe that people who are searching on the yellow pages site are further along in the buying cycle than those who are using search engines. They're probably past the information gathering stage (something they used Google for) and are now looking for local businesses which provide the products/services that they're in the market for. Unfortunately I don't know how trackable that would be since most of the people using yellow pages probably purchase in store.

  2. Tom Tsinas says:

    Hi David,

    Agreed, the YP user has cash in hand an they're ready to buy.

    This step can be tracked by directing the IYP referral to a custom landing page and counting the download of coupons or directions.

  3. [...] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here's a quick excerptI'm constantly hearing about how the Yellow Pages are dying and there's no value in them. While most may say that I'm biased because of the number of years I spent in the industry, the same cannot be said for Google Analytics. … [...]

  4. Peter Wood says:

    I do believe that yellow pages will drive more qualified leads to your site, simple by the nature of their business. You don't generally visit yellow pages just for the fun of it.

    Google will drive more traffic to your site (if you have a decent ranking or a large adwords budget) but there will ineviatbly be a large amount of 'tyre kickers' coming your way.

    It's really a matter of analyzing the cost per sale involved over a period of time as to which is the more advantagious route to take. There is probably room for both to work well together depending on the services/products you offer.

  5. jim says:

    The fact that people still use Yellow Pages doesn't mean it isn't dying though.

    They key thing is to retain the confidence of advertisers. If their perception is that "Yellow Pages is dying" they'll leap ship and move somewhere their advertising will reach their market.

    After all didn't we have that same perception before your post?

  6. I have run some of my own tests comparing the Yellow Pages on a range of our clients sites to Web Marketing overall. The Yellow Pages website here in SA bring very few visitors compared to Google and a few other bigger local directories. What I compared was the number of leads relative to each other and on average the cost per lead with our target audience B2B SME was 6 times less with on line marketing. Not to say that the Yellow Pages is useless as there are certain industries were the target audience are not web users.

  7. [...] es una traducción al español de: Google Vs Yellow Pages escrita por Tom [...]

  8. Portland SEO says:

    Wow! That is an excellent expiriment. Those are some surprising results. Great job.

  9. The South African statistics are way off from the rest of civilization….LOL….Google traffic accounts for 95%+ of organic traffic to most all of our client websites. Analytics don't lie! Google rules in South Africa!

  10. The experiment is quite interesting. However the amount of those who use yellow pages for search is really impressive.

  11. Kris says:

    Everyone should also keep in mind that in Canada, YellowPages is a very solid brand (compared to directory popularity in say, South Africa!)
    So while Google does send more bulk, you still need to pay attention to other sources of traffic to increase your ROI (if in cpc campaigns).
    Traffic to my company's site coming from MSN and Yahoo organic search is miniscule compared to google, however the quality of traffic has shown to be better than that of Google's. It is necessary to find a balance of investment from various sources of traffic.

  12. Google is just so easy to use.

    It takes too much time to look things up by hand

  13. MOin says:

    when yellow pages were at peak i was so new to web i always saw those link saying yellow pages and it was a mystery for me even if i clicked and checked it was outa my mind untill i jumped out of crap jobs on net and did some marketing work, when i had enough knowledge it was google era and now i personally think google owns it is by far the best.

  14. seo guide says:

    I think the main advantage of the yellow pages are they are portable, you can place it in handy places cheaply, but google has some other advantages for instance the information can be updated daily while some information which is printed may became out of date as soon as it is printed out.

  15. Mr Article says:

    Everybody i know uses the yellow pages, i do also, it's very useful. I couldn't agree with you more though, your analysis is damn near perfect.

  16. Pushkar says:

    Nice Post Tom and ya, the YP visitor is more funnelled out and is in more purchasing state of mind, so added advantage.

    Pushkar

  17. jeremy says:

    these numbers are all from 2007 have you revisited this since the major changes in Google? I have seen these numbers before and it is always referring to 2007 lets look at the 3rd quarter of this year I would wager that yellow pages is way down.

  18. Doris says:

    this aricle is right on target! i have been in the advertising market for 15 yrs and I work with yellow pages and sem. It is definitely true that when ready to buy they are not reading the yp for fun. They are ready to make purchase, they just need the ad that answers their questions or fills their needs. SEM is great for branding but it seems that consumers do more shopping not buying relatively speaking.

  19. cat says:

    What for is this battle I think that both Google and Yellow pages are too huge for somebody of them to win or to loose

  20. Paul Contris says:

    Check this out. Google just released a free 411 service.

    http://www.google.com/goog411/

    It actually works. Maybe Google wants to dominate the Yellow and 411 services?

  21. I agree entirely about the value of Yellow Pages. I've included my stats and analysis for my site at Different Referral Sources bring different value traffic.

    An established brand (Yellow Pages) is a wonderful thing not only for advertisers but for users who want to purchase and don't want a whole lot of irrelevant results.

  22. Interesting statistics, but there is huge difference in cost between google traffic and Yellow pages traffic. How much did the Yellow pages advertising cost that drove the visitors to the website? And how much money was made from those visitors? Compare those figures to the cost and earnings from the Google traffic – those are the statistics that count, and the only ones that should be compared.

    The bottom line has to be return on investment – unless the Yellow Pages redress their uncompetitive pricing strategy and arcane way of doing business, they will perish.
    .-= Salvatore McDonagh recently posted: Do Google Adwords- Pay Per Click PPC ads work =-.

  23. clarify says:

    Google 411 – this information will be fed to Google by Yellow Pages.

    Yellow Pages definitely has less traffic – this is better for the advertiser. Yellow Pages qualifies the user by "weeding" out anybody EXCEPT the end buyer. 95% of people searching on the web, use Google. However, Google is a SEARCH engine where yellow pages is a FIND engine. The buyer will go to Google first, research the products or services they are about to buy, then they go to YellowPages.ca and find the right match.

    SEM stops those buyers who are looking on GOOGLE as a researcher, and puts a relative ad in their eye site. Its brilliant, however yellowpages is not even close to dying out, in fact their mobile application has be downloaded an excess of 2 millions times in the last 10 months.

    Any information an advertiser has with YPG, gets sent to Google. As an advertiser wanting a complete advertising package; you need both to have a complete package.

    -Good information though!!

  24. Chris says:

    The biggest down fall I see is not traffic, ROI, etc… it is the full year purchase commitment one must make. It is a common issue for my clients that wish to get involved. The other venues like google adwords offer a much more flexible financial arrangement. I know, I personally would be much more likely to test the yellow pages waters if they had a similar model for online and not force the print version payment model onto the online platform.

  25. Time to revisit… my observations is that Yellow Pages Traffic was cut in half last year.
    .-= Lawrence Winterburn recently posted: Did you buy your website from the yellow pages group =-.

  26. dave says:

    when i am ready to buy I do not go to yellow pages online or print. I simply do all my research on company websites. I have no use for yellow pages online or print. Google rules the internet. Yellow pages isn't even close

    • Ruud Hein says:

      I recognize that Dave. Then again — and this may be a small town kind of thing — I do find myself still consulting the Yellow Pages for some local stuff. The pizzeria, hardware store, plumber etc. are all easier and faster to find there then via the web.