Natural Search Blog

Australian Yellow Pages Finally Optimizes For Search Engines

Sensis LogoThe Australian edition of Lifehacker reports that Sensis, Telestra’s yellow pages division, has finally allowed bots to crawl their online yellow pages so links to their listings are now showing up in Google SERPs and other search engines. Previously, they were apparently blocking Google and bots by either using robots.txt disallow rules and/or blocking the bots with network access rules.

Australian Sensis Yellow Pages in SERPs
Australian Yellow Pages in Google results (click to enlarge)

Amusingly, Lifehacker mentions, “The fact that it was ever blocked is frankly one of the weirdest Internet strategies imaginable, but that’s another story.”

I can well remember back when Superpages allowed me to optimize the yellow pages content — it’s so gratifying to see the dramatic traffic increase that occurs when a site that has blocked content is suddenly opened up for spidering and indexing. Sensis will undoubtedly enjoy a similar punch up in traffic now, and their clients will benefit from the added visibility, too.

Why did they block Google for so long? Could be simple ignorance, or it could have been the continued use of a Business 1.0 strategy. For one thing, internet yellow pages sites are huge targets for dataminers who harvest listing information for re-use in many ways, including spamming of email addresses, composing telemarketing phone number lists, as well as building competing directory information sites.

Google could have been blocked automatically as a seeming dataminer. Heck, they ARE dataminers of a sort, but most of us in the search marketing profession have taken to viewing them as benign/beneficial dataminers. It’s the difference between parasites and symbiotic organisms.

Lifehacker goes on to say that they’re skeptical about Sensis’ claims that businesses businesses listed in their yellow pages will get more visibility in Google SERPs. Actually, this is true, if Sensis does all their search engine optimization (“SEO”) correctly. To take it to the next level, Sensis will have to not just open up to the bots but also perform additional Local SEO.

(Coincidentally,  and even more amusingly, Sensis’ General Manager of Online Search and Directories is also named “Chris Smith”. Yes, I grudgingly admit it — my cloning project has been humming along, and I now have successfully accomplished being in more than one place at a time so that I can do SEO for multiple companies simultaneously.)

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2 comments for Australian Yellow Pages Finally Optimizes For Search Engines »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    I agree, its totally wierd that they would block Google, very old-school. Especially since just about all of the new entrants that are threatening their market are welcoming the indexing. I’m involved with The Brownbook (, and before that I spent almost 15 years in traditional directory companies in the UK, and it amazes me how large the gulf is between ‘big company’ old-school defensive thinking and the new school agile welcoming approach. We spend a huge amount of time on SEO, and as a result 89% of our traffic comes from google organics. We dont do any PPC, and we certainly don’t engage in any of the traditional high-overhead marketing strategies of the big players.

    Comment by dave ingram — 7/29/2008 @ 4:32 am

  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Nice post, very informative.
    Sounds like Big Corp Flexing it’s muscles as usual.
    Pitty there is not more coop in the marketplace amongst big Co’s.
    The yellow Pages is dying anyway, most just google these days.
    Maybe they are finally waking up !

    Mark W.

    Comment by Mark W Allen — 4/6/2009 @ 6:06 am

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