Remember sites like Yellowpages.com and Mapquest, before you Googled everything?
Internet Yellowpages (IYPs) are “business search engines” that categorize businesses by type. Users search by biz name or type, and then see basic results showing phone number, website URL and physical address. In the Internet’s formative years, people turned to these websites as an alternative to search engines. This consumer behavior was largely in the legacy of print Yellowpages books.
The Top 12 IYPs; courtesy of the BrightLocal IYP report dated 2/14/14
After 2005, Google results pages began displaying crucial contact information for companies — without the need to click further into any website. From that time, IYPs have faced an erosion in overall value to consumers. Do you still use sites like Yellowpages.com instead of Google?
Google’s search ranking algorithm still continues to rely on information from IYPs as confirmation of business location and contact details. Many companies’ regional success online benefits from creating a network of “citations” in this way. Yet the entire IYP industry is in panic mode, as traffic to IYPs continues to bleed across the board.
Industry thought-leader BrightLocal.com published a report this month noting a 22% decline in traffic across the Top 40 IYP websites in 2013 alone. As a few sites such as (Google darling) Yelp.com hold strong, so many others are losing out. Changes in Google’s algorithm are perhaps the core cause — and Google’s ability to actively compress the visibility of hundreds of IYPs — meanwhile elevating Yelp.com — further shows Google’s super-dominance in this space. Google plays god with IYPs.
Will Google continue to cross-reference info from IYPs in Google’s own display of business results? Will business directory websites be obsolete in 5 years? We predict that the faster consumers demand information, the faster we will transition away from IYPs for good.