Local SEO Guide

IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009

National IYPs (Internet Yellow Pages) have long been amongst the biggest benefactors of organic search engine traffic.  The typical IYP has north of 15MM business listings.  Add category pages, city pages, reviews, maps, etc and you are easily looking at a 50MM+ page site with a huge amount of high value & high volume keyword targets.  Many IYPs even use their Google rankings as part of their sales pitch.  When I got an email from one asking me to advertise and take advantage of their rankings, it got me thinking about which IYPs are the best at SEO, and thus the IYP SEO Rankings report was born.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Searched Google (with personalization turned off) for 20 of the top yellow pages headings in the top 20 U.S. cities.
  2. Each query was in the following format – <City>+<Category> (e.g. “Chicago Doctor”)
  3. Each top 10 ranking was scored in reverse order, so a #1 ranking = 10 points, a #2 ranking = 9 points, etc.
  4. The points for each IYP were added up and averaged across all queries for all cities.  The IYP with the most points was crowned American IYP SEO Idol of 2009.

And now, without further ado, here are best SEO IYPs of 2009 in rank order along with their scores:

  1. Superpages
  2. Citysearch
  3. Yelp
  4. Yahoo Local
  5. InsiderPages
  6. YellowPages.com
  7. BizJournals
  8. AreaConnect
  9. MagicYellow
  10. Switchboard
  11. MerchantCircle
  12. GetFave
  13. Yellowbot
  14. Yellowpages.Lycos.com
  15. Kudzu
  16. Discoverourtown
  17. Loqal.com
  18. Local.Ingenio.com
  19. YellowUSA.com
  20. IAF.net

I should note that after the top 6 the scores dropped significantly.  The top 6 represent 75% of all the rankings for these queries.  Superpages has 19% of the rankings, CitySearch 18% and Yelp is coming up in the rearview mirror with 14%.  So if you are thinking about marketing your site on an IYP seems like you need to be on these three.

I was also impressed by the performance of the sites that are not particularly well-known brands – AreaConnect, MagicYellow, GetFave & Yellowbot are all playing the SEO game well.  Not particularly surprising was the relatively weak performance by some of the big Yellow Pages players such as DexKnows (#40) & Yellowbook (#25).  In Dex’s defense they are more of a regional player and in Yellowbook’s defense, well the whole David Carradine thing must have been distracting.

Rankings by Site Type

We also looked at the different types of sites that the National IYPs were competing against for rankings. As you can see from the list below, local business sites are doing the best with 32% of all rankings, while national Vertical search sites (e.g. doctoroogle.com) are also doing well.  I was surprised to see that the local yellow pages directories (LYPs) were not doing as well.  My guess is because most of these have not gotten aggressive with their SEO strategies.  I was also surprised that video results barely showed up as these are some of the easiest rankings to get at the moment.  One of the biggest changes I expect to see the next time I do this is with the Social sites (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, etc.)  .  Sooner or later these guys are going to catch on to this local thing.

% of Top 10 Rankings by Site Type

Local Biz 32%
IYP 27%
Vertical 17%
Article 6%
Local Vertical 5%
LYP 5%
National Chain 4%
Unrelated 2%
Gov 1%
School 1%
Social <1%
Video <1%

BTW nice to see that “Unrelated” is a fairly small percentage of results.  Well done Google.

Of course there are inherent limitations to this type of analysis.  The fact that the searches were not conducted from an IP address located in the searched city is a big flaw, but c’est la search.  I am going to continue to dig through the data and provide some more analysis by category and by city.  If you have any questions or want to see specific info, please post requests in the comments or else email me.

And here are the cities and categories I used:

20 Popular Yellow Pages Categories

  1. Restaurant
  2. Doctor
  3. Hotel
  4. Auto Repair
  5. Florist
  6. Car Dealer
  7. Dentist
  8. Auto Parts
  9. Beauty Salon
  10. Hospital
  11. Pizza
  12. Plumber
  13. Insurance
  14. Department Store
  15. Veterinarian
  16. Bank
  17. Pharmacy
  18. Attorney
  19. Theater
  20. Tire Dealer

Top 20 U.S. Cities

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Chicago
  4. Houston
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Phoenix
  7. San Antonio
  8. San Diego
  9. Dallas
  10. San Jose
  11. Detroit
  12. Indianapolis
  13. Jacksonville
  14. San Francisco
  15. Columbus
  16. Austin
  17. Memphis
  18. Baltimore
  19. Ft. Worth
  20. Charlotte

I will also be speaking about my findings tomorrow at the Local Search Summit on the “Local Search: Where Are We Today” panel.