Which Internet Yellow Pages Site Has The Best Rankings?

One of the challenges for a local business that wants to rank for phrases like “reno dentist” or “nashville accountant” is that the large Internet yellow pages sites and similar local directories often take up a lot of the real estate on search results pages for “city category” phrases. Ergo, one of the most basic pieces of local SEO advice is to piggyback on the authority that these IYPs and directories already have.

Two recent blog posts take a shot at trying to determine which IYP and local directory sites have the strongest rankings.

In his IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009 post, Andrew Shotland checked Google rankings for 20 categories (restaurant, doctor, etc.) in the 20 largest U.S. cities. He charted the sites that ranked in Google’s top 10, assigned points, and came up with his list of the 20 best-ranking IYP sites. The top five from Andrew’s list are as follows:

  1. Superpages
  2. Citysearch
  3. Yelp
  4. Yahoo Local
  5. InsiderPages

Ash Nallawalla of Net Magellan followed up Andrew’s post with one of his own, SEO ranking of US IYPs across 274 cities. As you can tell from the title alone, Ash dug much deeper by examining close to 300 U.S. metro areas and included 28 IYP sites in his sample. But he limited his analysis to just four phrases: dentist, doctor, divorce lawyer, and divorce attorney.

Across Ash’s four keyword phrases, the IYPs with the most consistently strong rankings appear to be:

  1. Superpages
  2. Citysearch
  3. YellowBook

But Ash’s data also reveals that some IYPs are stronger in certain verticals; IAF.net, for example, had the most top 10 rankings for the “divorce attorney” phrase, and was second overall in both legal-related keywords.

While there are inherent flaws in this kind of analysis — IYPs are generally stronger in areas where they also have a print directory, for example — the two pieces together make an interesting addition to the local SEO discussion.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | SEO: Local | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    Thanks for highlighting the IYP report, I noticed that Merchant Circle did not make the list…also, I was happy to see Superpages in the top spot as well.

  • andrew shotland

    To me the most surprising part of the analysis wasn’t how the IYPs ranked, it was that the IYPs only controlled 27% of these SERP rankings. And after local businesses which own 32% of the rankings, that leaves 40% spread out across a wide variety of sites. I am still digging through the data but the biggest upside to gain share seem to be:

    1. Incorporate SMB websites into your network
    2. Launch verticals
    3. Create local versions of your site
    4. Incorporate articles that target local terms into your site

    Nothing earth-shattering here, and I am already seeing a lot of IYPs starting to focus on #1 & #2.

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Ash Nallawalla

    Although I used four base phrases, each was applied to a locality, so 274 x dentist, for example.

    When I looked at Denver suburbs in detail, I was trying to check Chris Silver Smith’s 2007 observation that RHD does better online in states where they have print directories. This didn’t hold true for DexKnows in Denver in 2009.

    I was surprised to see Superpages.com showing Amazon and eBay content, as this would attract the “thin affiliate” filter for lesser sites, but I’ve noticed that high TrustRank is an over-ruling factor in the Google algorithms and such sites seem to get away with thin content.

  • http://WickCentrick.com Wickerpedia

    It amazes me that Superpages has dominated the SEO rankings consistently for such a long time.

    Think the recent bankruptcy of Superpages/Idearc will impact their ranking in any way? Will they lose partner content that’s helping to get them ranked or did Chris Silver Smith do such a good job that they are eternally blessed?

  • jspats

    What am I missing? Yellowpages..com is seeing close 20mm unique vistors per month. They are ranked 25 of most heavily accessed sites, including the Google and yahoo. Actually ahead of Bank of America. Com Score has them ranked one for IYP.
    What am I missing??????

  • andrew shotland

    jspats, Yellowpages.com, like most big IYPs, doesn’t get all of their traffic organically. The rest is purchased via partnerships and ad campaigns. So they could be the worst at SEO, which they aren’t, but if they bought enough traffic they could be the biggest in ComScore.

  • http://silvery.com Chris Silver Smith

    Andrew’s observation is entirely correct – it’s an “open secret” that most big IYPs buy traffic through partnerships in addition to many other traffic-driving initiatives, so that is not figured in here. Both Andrew’s and Ash’s research was to use a sample set of typical keyword searches in Google and to document which YP sites were consistently ranking well as a measure for SEO effectiveness. So, this was not at all a study on which site performs best in terms of visit traffic nor which would be ranked highest based on many other factors (such as revenue, # advertisers, amount of listings and listings including enhanced content, number of sales reps, total traffic, etc).

    Regarding Ash’s observation that Superpages is given some sort of “free pass” for having thin affiliate content — my friends who work upon those sections would probably disagree. Just in general I observe that there are things one may do with affiliate content that will allow it to rank well, according to some of Google’s quality evaluators’ criteria. But, I’m not saying whether that is going on in this case or not. Just having content indexed doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s also ranking well.

    Both Andrew’s and Ash’s blog posts are interesting to me, and I commented quite a bit in both.

    I’d really like to see a much broader study, using a few different common local search query formats, and many more category + cityname combinations. It sounds as if Andrew plans on doing some more studies of this nature, and revealing some of his findings on his blog in upcoming weeks.

  • http://udiovisualrentalsvirginia.com hwkd65

    To Andrew:

    I see your suggestion about creating a “local site” and was hoping you might elaborate.

    I work on small business, non e-commerce sites, that targets locales within a geographic region, i.e., the mid-Atlantic.

    So, I created pages (using the home page content as the template) for specific locales and added the locale name in the title, the description, the first para. of the page content, etc.

    There links in the footer of the “real” home page pertaining to “areas served” and I use the canonical tag for the true home page out of concern for a duplicate content penalty.

    I was also concerned about using a black hat method by adding the locales served to the footer like a lot of our national competitors who basically stuff the name of every city in the nation at the bottom of their pages.

    Have I approximated what you mean by creating a “local site(s)”, or is there more/something different to it?

    Thanks a million for any feedback.
    Hank

  • jspats

    Chris and Andrew
    Thxs for the time w/feedback. I sell to SMBs via PPC on major SE’s and also sell for a IYP.(Confidentially issues, however a great company) I am always looking for a better understanding in a dynamic, fast pace world.

    Hey., its keeps me off the streets

    thxs again

  • andrew shotland

    hwkd5,

    By “local versions” i meant a domain that was specific to the city (e.g. newyorkrestaurants.com) and had unique local branding v. the national parent brand.

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