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15th August by Josh Janssen
Today I received a phone call from Yellow Pages, telling me that I should have a presence in their directory. My response was “No, I am fine thanks, I am already in a directory called Google – and am happy with that”. There was a little bit of sarcasm in my voice, the Yellow pages rep had just spent 30 seconds telling me why I NEED to be in Yellow Pages.
When I mentioned Google, the conversation changed. The Yellow pages rep told me that I should definitely look into the online packages that Yellow Pages offered. She told me that they had a ‘partnership’ with Google and that they pay millions of dollars to make sure that their pages are priority on Google Search. This didn’t sit right with me. I remember reading an article quoting a Google representative that specifically said that Google do NOT have partnerships that change organic search results.
ME: ”So, just so I get this right, you are talking about organic search?” Yellow Pages: ”yes”
ME: ”Not paid ads up the top?”
Yellow Pages: ”No, I am talking about organic search. Yellow Pages have a Partnership with Google.”
She was confident about it. I asked her: ME: Are you ACTUALLY from Yellow Pages? Yellow Pages: Yes, I am actually from Yellow Pages, I am not an agent. I can give you a number to call back if you have any further questions.
It sounds really appealing to a business owner. I can imagine what the average small business owner would be thinking:
*Everyone has been saying that Yellow Pages is a big rip off for years. But now they are in bed with Google. They are a Google PARTNER! I want to be number one on Google. This sounds great.*
Yellow pages is a big brand, so it doesn’t sound too far fetched that they have a deal with Google. They actually probably do have a ‘partnership’ with Google. An Adwords partnership that is.
This means that Yellow Pages can resell AD SPACE on Google. Yellow Pages are using this ‘partnership’ to trick customers into believing that Yellow Pages has priority ranking on search. I decided to call Google and confirm whether there was such an arrangement.
I gave Yellow Pages a call back, mentioning the fact that Google didn’t know anything about this ‘partnership’. All of a sudden, a once confident sales person from Yellow Pages, was unsure and asked me to hold the line. A minute later and she gave me the verdict (that I was expecting),’Yellow Pages does not have a partnership with Google that gives Yellow Pages priority ranking’. She did say though, that they are ‘working on it’. Although, I don’t believe that either.
Less than 24 hours since posting ‘Yellow Pages Scam’, we have had a huge response through social media. Including a number of people contacting us with similar stories.
Yellow Pages (Sensis) has also responded to the post.
“Hi Josh. My name is Damian Glass from Sensis Corporate Affairs. The conversation that you have outlined on your Blog is concerning for Yellow Pages as it is not the way the Yellow Pages relationship with Google should be described to our customers by Yellow Pages sales consultants. Sensis does not endorse any of the comments that are alleged to have been made by the consultant. Paid organic search on Google is not part of any product offering Sensis provides to customers and it’s not the way we train our sales consultants to talk to customers about Yellow Pages’ relationship with Google.
Sensis has an agreement with Google where Sensis syndicates Yellow Pages data to Google. This allows Yellow Pages advertisers to be found on Google Places Pages but it is still up to Google to determine the ranking of its results.
In addition, the Yellow Pages website is search engine optimised which provides additional benefits to Yellow Pages advertisers through seeking to improve organic listings.
As you have noted, Yellow Pages is an authorised Google Adwords re-seller meaning that Yellow Pages advertisers can purchase Google based search engine marketing (ie. sponsored listing) products from Sensis.”
Hopefully the re-training of their staff ensures that this doesn’t happen again.