You’re probably already asking; why exactly are we advising you to avoid Yell.com? Yell is a trusted, household name for businesses and consumers alike in the UK…right?
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll remember the Yellow Pages. Those big yellow books were essential for small business marketing, particularly in the 80s and 90s. It was expensive to be listed, but at least they delivered results.
30 years later and that’s all changed thanks to the Internet and search engines like Google. Coupled with smartphones, everyone has access to a world of information in their pocket – and they don’t need a big yellow book any longer.
In this article, we look at how Yell has evolved, what their offerings are and most importantly, why they are a poor choice for a digital marketing provider and should be avoided.
Yell.com – a brief evolution
In 2017, the decision was made to stop printing the Yellow Pages all together. It was safe to say that in 2018 the Yellow Pages was well and truly dead.
Its failure to transition customers from a printed book to a digital solution saw the company face hard times. With a debt of over £2.3bn and a pre-tax loss of £2bn in 2013, the company was seized and taken over by lenders.
Yell needed to restructure and recover its losses. So, they have become more aggressive on the digital front ever since. Free listings in the Yell.com online directory fuel their telesales consultants with a stream of business leads to target with hard sales techniques.
The Problems – what can you expect from Yell.com?
We’ve done a bit of research (a little too late for our own benefit) but hopefully it will be of benefit to you and your small business.
The sales team at Yell Business often make promises that they can’t deliver on. None of this is in the contract, so there is little you can do once you’ve signed it.
Many small business owners have regretting signing their contract with Yell.com within minutes.
That leads us nicely on to contracts. All of Yell’s services come with a 12 month contact.
If you’re looking for a marketing company, this should definitely raise a red flag. A lot of marketing is experimental and the service provided may not necessarily be a good fit for your business. If you’re signing up for Yell’s services and it doesn’t work after a few months, you’re stuck with expensive management fees and poor advertising campaigns that you get little return from.
Yell claim to provide affordable services, but they are anything but. While websites might start from £499, in reality, a 15 page site could end up costing you thousands.
You can also expect to pay a whopping £90+ for hosting fees, which is quite frankly extortionate, on top of the cost for premium listings and any advertising services you were sold. There are reports of clients spending £5,000 on a website and a further £1,200 a month for advertising campaigns that were not delivering results.
Poor Designs and Templates
Yell typically use the same template for every site they build. While you may get a change in logo and colour scheme, the build will be almost exactly the same as every other site built by Yell Business for a particular industry that doesn’t really represent your business.
We typed “powered by yell” builders in to Google and the first three results were: bricksofthetrade.co.uk, markalewisroofing.co.uk and londoneb.co.uk/. Three websites, all powered by Yell and they all essentially use the same template. So what exactly are you paying for?
When we learned that Yell.com’s pay per click services were also poorly designed and effectively a one size fits all template, we were alarmed. Richman SEO Training was approached by a former Yell.com employee who disclosed that unless you’re paying over £2,000 a month for pay per click services, then you would simply receive a copy and paste Google Ads account with only the brand name and URL changed.
We actually noticed this ourselves in our local area. Those sites that are managed by Yell.com only appear to have a brand campaign, where they are only bidding on their business name in a paid search campaign. While this can help you dominate the SERP, for a small business with a limited marketing budget, you would benefit from targeting keywords more relevant to your products and services.
You don’t own your website or your Google Ads account
Now here is the real kick in the teeth. You pay out thousands for your new website to be built by Yell.com, but you don’t own it – they do. You only effectively rent the website from them, but the entire design and all of the content is owned by them. This makes it particularly hard to move away, even after your 12 month contract has expired. In fact, you’ll need to build an entirely new site and even the logo belongs to Yell.com.
For the sake of convenience, here is defintion of Created Content and Content, taken from Yell.com’s Advertising Terms and Conditions
Any half decent website designer will give you access to a content management system (CMS) to manage your site. If not, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to make a few changes here and there free of charge as a gesture of goodwill for your repeat custom. However, with a Yell Business website, you can’t make changes yourself and you have to go through them every time – at a cost.
This is why we would never recommend any business to use Yell for their website design.
The same applies to your Google Ads and pay per click accounts. Yell.com build the account and you pay for it. However, if you wish to move away, you will not get access to any of your historical data, even down to the keywords they bid on. I’m sure this is because they don’t want you to see that you were completely ripped off when you discover they were only bidding on brand keywords!
If you want a business website or marketing campaign that doesn’t cost the earth, that is portable and that you own entirely, get in touch and request a proposal and we will see how we can help.
Hosting costs are astronomical
Hosting for your website is essential and it is important for your website to be fast and optimised for search.
Yell charge £96 inc. VAT a month for their website hosting, which equates to over £1,000 a year. If you were to shop around, you could in fact get hosting with similar performance for less than £5 a month including set up and still save over £80 a month.
Remember, as you don’t own your website and it is not portable, you do not have the choice of moving your website to more affordable hosting.
You can always give us a call on 01745 603088 for advice on the best hosting packages for your website requirements.
Analytics are pivotal to the performance of your website and marketing campaigns. Without understanding where your traffic is coming from and how your visitors are behaving, you cannot optimise for improvement.
It is also difficult to set up any conversion tracking and there is no support for Google Tag Manager. The promise of digital marketing is that it is far easier to understand where your leads are coming from. The weak analytical environment created by Yell leaves a lot to be questioned and it is no wonder they are failing their customers. I don’t understand how they can claim to offer PPC management services when they are unable to measure how successful their campaigns are?
Upsell on marketing services
We’ve briefly touched on some of the marketing services Yell Business already provides. It is important to realise that if you’re an existing Yell.com customer, you’re likely to be pitched additional services. These could include a sponsored Yell.com ad, Google Adwords and PPC, social media marketing or search engine optimisation (SEO).
All of Yell’s marketing services are very much the same.Aggressive sales, 12 month contracts and poor results.
Some clients have spent in excess of £1,200 a month on marketing with Yell, but with no analytics it was difficult to tell if it was working. The breakdown of costs look something like this:
£40 per month – Reputation Manager (masquerades as affordable SEO)
£80 per month – Website hosting
£265 per month – Sponsored listing on Yell.com position #1
£82.34 per month – Local VIP (another Yell.com sponsored listing bill)
£47.67 per month – Heavyweight prominence (yet another Yell.com sponsored listing bill)
£500 per month – PPC + management fee
£200 per month – Display + management fee
When all of these services were removed, nothing changed which goes to show that nothing worked!
With a solid investment for half that money in Google Ads, you’d see far more profitable results. All you need to do is ask yourself this question: how many times do you search on Yell.com and how many times do you use Google?
Our Experience – here’s what you need to look out for…
We’ve recently had an experience with Yell Business and needless to say, we were not impressed. We can honestly say that we think Yell’s customers deserve better. If you’re not convinced by the points above, perhaps by reading our experience you will be able to make a more informed decision as to whether Yell.com is the digital marketing partner you want for your small business.
Having not really approached Yell.com in the past we were definitely caught off guard. We’d just launched our website and signed up for our free listing on the Yell.com online directory to boost our back link profile and help with our SEO. No less than 24 hours later, we received a call from a Yell Business telesales consultant.
They showed interest in the business and wanted to learn more about what we do – in fact, they were overly helpful and we knew there had to be a catch. In the back of our minds, we were asking ourselves; what are you going to try and sell me?
Being digital marketing specialists ourselves, there wasn’t much that we were told that we didn’t know already. We joined a screen share where the telesales consultant performed a SEO audit of our site. We scored pretty high, but having only just launched ppcmedia.co.uk, we didn’t have too many back links which was the opening they needed to make their sales pitch.
We were recommended a product called Reputation Manager. A single platform to distribute and manage your business listing across 50+ online directories. It sounded like a great tool to quickly create a back link profile on a number of domains with high authority and would save on countless hours of manual labour. Of course, we were promised significant amounts of profile views and leads based on Yell.com’s historical search data that we were not allowed to see.
The Reputation Manager was exactly what we were looking for, but we were given little to no time to make our decision, particularly as a free premium listing was offered if we closed the deal there and then. We made the mistake of thinking we could trust Yell.com,after all they’re a well known and reputable UK business – aren’t they? So, we committed to a 12 month contract at just over £40/month.
4 weeks down the line, we had only received 16 impressions on our Yell.com listing and 7 profile views across the online directory network associated with the Reputation Manager, far from the promises that were made by the telesales consultant – we should have known better!
Not happy with the results and tied in to a 12 month B2B contract, we complained and spoke with our assigned Account Manager at Yell. He refused to cancel our contract and advised us that if we did not pay, Yell.com would commission debt collectors to recover any outstanding balance. It is worth noting that the rights consumers have are not the same as business and there is no protection or refund period for businesses tied in to contract if you are not satisfied.
All businesses exist to make money. However, the best businesses do that by being passionate about delivering results for their customers. At PPC Media, we pride ourselves on being different and customer satisfaction is underpinned by our company values. We deliver the best results and want to break the stigma that bad digital marketing agencies have brought to the industry.
It’s hard to see that Yell.com is a company that will be passionate about your business. With operations spread over the globe, presumably to keep costs down, there is a clear disconnect between the promises made by the sales team and what is delivered.
The Reviews – What are others saying about Yell.com?
So, there are a handful of key points why using Yell as your digital marketing provider is not a great idea. Best case scenario is you’ll have an okay website that is overpriced. Worst case you’ll have a shoddy website that you rent for extortionate monthly prices but do not own, overpriced hosting, and fake analytics. As a small business, your marketing spend should be focused around achieving a profitable ROI so choosing Yell is not a smart idea.
But, we don’t want you to take our word for this. If you head over to Trustpilot, Yell have over 1,000 client reviews where businesses have had a bad or poor experience.
Richman SEO Training in London have investigating Yell.com since February 2019 and identified Yell’s staff were given incentives to encourage 4 and 5 star reviews from clients and encouraged to not collect negative reviews, therefore inflating their positive review score on Trustpilot.
The below is a selection of comments taken from reviews posted – these are not cherry-picked and are all from reviews posted in the weeks prior to the writing of this article.
Well, the first thing you need to do is avoid Yell.com for your small business website design and digital marketing needs – but hopefully we’ve made that clear enough already!
What is right for you and your business will largely depend on your budget and objectives.
For many small businesses, a well-built site using WordPress is a good option. However, if budget is tight then you may look to a cloud based system like Wix, although SEO and analytics are not as strong and migrating the website to a more flexible system in the future could prove difficult.
It is important to remember that your website is a marketing tool. So, you should be looking to work with a web design company that understands small business marketing. And SEO, in particular, is important for small businesses to ensure visibility on search engines.
There are a few ways we can help and we believe you deserve better.
- Give us a call
Give us an overview of your situation and budget and we can give you some advice on the best way forward. You can call our office in St. Asaph, North Wales on 01745 603088. If for any reason we can’t help – we will certainly point you in the right direction.
- Drop us a message
If you’re logged in on Facebook Messenger, you can use the messenger icon in the bottom right corner to get in touch with one of our team on live chat. Alternatively, send an email to [email protected]
- Leave a comment
Or simply drop a comment below this post and we will do whatever we can to help. If you need some advice give us a shout. We are only too happy to help.