Where Are the Yellow Pages Going?

Local Business - Marketing Concept for Small BusinessWhether or not you’ve heard of local SEO, or search engine optimization, it’s affecting you. Like or not, it’s what’s slowly replacing your phone books, The Huffington Post recently reported, but fortunately, this isn’t a bad thing.

Search engine optimization is the process of streamlining a website and making efforts to improve its online visibility. This work helps the site improve its search engine ranking, which in turn allows it to get more web traffic.

Research from Chitika shows that the top listing in Google’s organic search results receives 33% of a search’s traffic, compared to 18% for the second position. The more web traffic a site gets, the more leads it generates, which can then be converted into sales.

Local SEO — specifically — is this same process, but is geared towards helping sites rank well in local searches. For example, it helps sites reach people who are looking to get their oil changed or find a new place to get pizza.

In other words, local SEO is what more and more businesses are investing in because it’s what more and more people are using to find local businesses — not the phone book.

“Many local businesses are struggling with how to find new customers,” says Ron Blackwelder, Owner, Charlotte Local Marketing. “Not very long ago, it was simple; just place an ad in the Yellow Pages or local newspaper. The problem businesses are facing today is that consumers are not using these types of sources to search but instead are going online. This makes getting top placement in search engines more important than ever. That is the core value of local SEO – having their website optimized for the search terms people use when searching for products or services.”

A Harris Interactive study from 2011 found that nearly 70% of adults in the U.S. “rarely or never” use the phone book. In fact, most of the survey’s respondents (60%) say they use the Internet to find contact information, a number that’s only risen since the study was done.

That year, there were an average 4.717 billion Google searches a day. In 2014, there were 5.74 billion searches each day. That’s over 1 billion more in just three years.

Now, here’s why that’s a good thing: local SEO is targeted, so it reaches the audiences that businesses want to reach. It also makes advertising easier for small businesses because it allows them to scale their efforts up or down more easily on a regular basis. Meanwhile, yellow pages only come out twice a year.

Lastly, local SEO is less expensive than registering in the yellow pages. In fact, SEO leads cost 61% lower than leads generated by traditional marketing tactics.

Of course, this also means that businesses that continue to ignore these changing trends will likely go the way of the dinosaurs. If you’re a small business owner who hasn’t invested in local SEO yet, now may be just the time. Late is always better than never.