Natural Search Blog


SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperDex

I was recently speculating about a possible SuperMedia – Dex One merger which could be hinted-at by the two companies cross-distribution agreement. If the two companies do merge, what might be their combined product or company brand name? Here’s a portmanteau brandname logo I came up with:

SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperDex

Actually, I since discovered that “SuperDex” is the trademarked name of a chromatography product, so that potential brand name is in-use and not available!

Perhaps some other brand name could result from the theoretic union of yellow pages companies, like “SuperKnows” or “DexMedia”. Maybe even “DexPages” or “SuperOne”!

It would probably be ultimately least expensive to keep one dominant brand name — I think Superpages has more brand equity overall, so that’s what I would vote towards.

Google Maps Should Consider A Canonical Phone Number Tag

Google Maps, local search engines, internet yellow pages and other online business directories often receive biz listing info from a great many sources and must merge it together (see my description of this in Eric Enge’s interview with me). When this happens, loads of variations in the business’s name, address and even phone number can cause listing data to fail to be merged. All this makes me think we might need a “Canonical Tag” for phone numbers! Read on, and I’ll elaborate… (more…)

Local Store Inventories Might Help Yellow Pages SEO

In an article posted on Search Engine Land this morning, I outline how Google Maps are increasingly appearing for keyword searches, reducing referral traffic to internet yellow pages. In a brief companion piece, I also mention how embattled yellow pages should step-up their SEO game. If Google Trends is truly indicative of a sea-change that is hitting online yellow pages sites, then they must do something about it:

Top IYPs & Business Directory Sites
Natural Search Performance of Top Yellow Pages Sites in Google

(Click to enlarge) (more…)

Is Verizon Responsible for Idearc’s Bankruptcy?

Idearc's Bankruptcy Caused by Verizon?My op-ed piece, “Idearc’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Who’s Really Responsible?” published today on Search Engine Land, and in it I put forth my position that Verizon is responsible for spinning off the company with an unreasonably huge debt load, and the people ultimately paying the bill are the stockholders.

I describe in the article how Verizon spun off Idearc Media (division which publishes print phone books and operates Superpages.com among other online yellow pages), and set that company up to pay back some billions of dollars for its worth. Verizon then turned around and resold those debt instruments to other companies, fully divesting itself of ownership in the new, standalone company.

This sequence in of itself isn’t remarkable – it’s the normal process a company might go through when spinning-off part of itself to form a new company.

But, my contention is that it was done so in a highly irresponsible manner. Verizon had to know beforehand that print directory business was going into shrinkage mode, and that the debt repayment structure would simply be too much for the new company to be reasonably expected to be able to handle. If so, then this could be expected to be a form of fraudulent conveyance, and Verizon could be culpable.

Is my contention outrageous?

Well, even Idearc’s Chief Executive, Scott Klein, has been paraphrased by the Wall Street Journal as saying “Everyone was aware that ‘$9 billion was really more debt than this business could bear’”. So, Idearc was spun off with a majority of this debt from Verizon from the start – clearly set up to fail.

So far, I’ve seen maybe three different law firms filing class-action lawsuits against Idearc and its executives, based on the premise that the stock tanked due to them secretly changing policies, resulting in inflated-looking sales on the books for businesses with higher likelihoods of not paying for contracted advertising. But, I think the real culprit in all this is likely Verizon – they pushed off a part of the company with an untenable debt load, in large part to pay off debts incurred by Verizon FiOS (Verizon’s fiber optic network) expansion.

AT&T Acquires YP.com for $3.85 Million

Yellow Pages Dot ComAT&T has acquired YP.com for $3.85 Million. I distinctly recall back when AT&T previously bought YellowPages.com in for $100 million in 2004. Does this make sense?!?

Back in 2004, I laughed and laughed and laughed, and I told coworkers that it was a huge waste of money, because, I said, “they won’t be able to buy themselves into the top position for searches for ‘Yellow Pages’”. SuperPages.com long held that distinction under my SEO direction, and I knew that purchasing the term in a domain name alone would not depose all the work we’d done to rank tops for it. As time passed, however, yellowpages.com has indeed deposed the Superpages forerunner. (more…)

Yellow Pages & Blog Payola

Ed Kohler, outspoken critic of YP industry, “outed” DexKnows.com for using Pay-Per-Post to increase links and associated PageRank for their site.

DexKnows.com logo

As you may know, Pay-Per-Post involves paying bloggers to write articles endorsing products, services or companies, and in this flavor it also involves using those posts to link back to the company’s site in order to help build PageRank.

The blog post is very thinly disguised payola – as Kohler points out, the blog is purportedly belonging to someone in Arkansas, while this post appears to be all oriented around providing keyworded links involving Pizza in Minneapolis through DexKnows. The blog has a large “payperpost” ad badge on it, too, and if you read through the articles, every single one seems to be engineered to sound like someone writing about random daily life incidents, but always with a couple of injected keyword links.

In context, it’s glaringly obvious that the blog is a paid posting. Kohler posts a comment below it, asking if it’s a paid post for Dex, and the author replies that she doesn’t “know who’s Dex”.

Kohler further pokes fun at Ken Clark, a yellow pages industry advocate, (more…)

Print Yellow Pages Usage On Decline Or Not?

Walking FingersMy article on how the “Yellow Pages Usage Stats Are Likely Wrong” went up earlier at Search Engine Land, and the details I highlight in it provide some strong circumstantial evidence that this year’s earlier industry statistics stating that print YP book usage hadn’t dropped over the year previous are likely incorrect.

As I point out, those statistics were all based on telephone polling, and those polls missed having representative samples of cell phone only households, according to their published methodology. Various research groups and government agencies have been saying that this is a significant chunk of the population — anywhere from 13.6%, growing to as much as 25% by the end of this year. (more…)

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, (more…)

Top 25 Things Vanishing from America: The Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages Dinosaur

AOL’s Walletpop blog has created a list of the Top 25 Things Vanishing from America. They listed “The Yellow Pages” as item number 24, along with such things as outhouses, classified ads, dial-up internet access, phone landlines, VCRs, cameras that use film, and more.

I’ve written before about how print yellow pages usage is decreasing due to the internet and mobile phones, and even internet yellow pages usage may be dropping due to newer generations becoming less aware of what yellow pages are. Others such as Bill Gates have also predicted the end of the print yellow pages while analysts such as those with The Kelsey Group have only predicted a sharper decline in usage of print YP this year, compared with last. [* This last sentence subsequently corrected after publication - see below.]

So, when will print yellow pages ultimately go the way of the dinosaur?

It’s unclear since some analysts have predicted a 3% overall decline per year for printed YP income, while others have stated the rate could be accelerating, with print YPs dying off within about 10 years. Also, some claim the demise of the printed directories is greatly exaggerated, since some smaller and more-specialized directories have seen increases in business.

What is clear is that increasing access to alternative sources of information in the way of internet local search, 411 services, and search-enabled mobile phones are definitely eroding usage of print YPs by some degree.

Yellow pages would seem to have already moved past the tipping point — when people begin listing YP books nostalgically as icons of the past, and when consumers are demanding that YP companies stop dropping books on their doorsteps — it seems like the end may be drawing near. If it is an accelerating business trend, no amount of guerrilla marketing, nanotechnology, and possibly questionable YP usage statistics will prop up the larger companies dependent on this business model unless they diversify rapidly.

[* The sentence in paragraph two originally read "Others such as Bill Gates and The Kelsey Group have also predicted the end of the print yellow pages." That sentence originally only mentioned Bill Gates when I was still drafting it, and I accidentally rendered it incorrect when I added in mention of The Kelsey Group without properly qualifying that they have only predicted some erosion of print usage. The Kelsey Group has not to my knowledge predicted an absolute end of the print YP industry.]

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Yellow Pages Guerilla Ad Campaign

I was speaking at the Search Engine Strategies (“SES”) Conference in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and was impressed by the YellowPages.ca booth in the exhibit hall:

YellowPages.ca booth at SES Toronto Conference

YellowPages.ca Search GraphI’ve seen other, equally-large booths for online yellow pages companies, but this one seemed particularly attention-getting and inviting. The glowing yellow desk and the simple design made the thing very friendly-looking, and the geek in me was drawn to the near-real-time search volume graph they had playing up on one screen. (more…)

Yellow Pages

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