Jumping on the bandwagon of Google’s new ngram thing that charts the use of words in books from 1800 to 2000.  Here’s the chart for “yellow pages”

And here’s Google Insights chart for “yellow pages” search queries from 2004 to the present:

Looks like the Civil War killed “SEO” in it’s 1.0 phase (guessing they called it “one point naught” in those days):

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6 Response Comments

  • Matt Lopez  December 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Before entering the web development and marketing industry I spent over 10 years in very high executive positions working for the 1st and 3rd largest independent Yellow Page companies in the US. As you might imagine I still have a significant amount of contacts in the industry and this is what I am hearing…
    The print advertising side of their business is hurting so bad that it is very questionable if they will be able to continue printing a book. It costs 1 cent per page (one sided) to produce a phone book so if you have a phone book of 1,200 pages the cost would be .01 x 1,200 x the amount of phone books you are going to print in that particular coverage area. Lets take San Francisco for example…..
    .01 x 1,200 x 300,000 phone books = $3,700,000. So it costs 3.7 million to produce phone books for San Francisco and I know a company who did not even bring in 2 million in advertising revenues from their San Francisco book this year. This is happening all over the country and I would be happy to give more details so just ask.

  • Andrew Shotland  December 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Great info Matt. Really appreciate you sharing it here.

  • Dallas SEO Consultant  December 21, 2010 at 2:48 am

    As a 9 year veteran of print yellow pages, and creator of YellowCrooks.com, a site that discusses fraud and sleazy sales tactics and crony executive leadership in Yellow Pages, I will tell you that old school monopoly pricing, horrible high pressure sales, inconsistancies with Acct reps, and saturation distribution are the reason both companies are down 70% in earnings….. hyper local in rural will be the new successful publishers. Urban will be opt im magazine subscription based if it continues. 12 month cycles and old school up sales wont work. New Media reps need to carry a bag with more tools and become dedicated to clients as small biz consultants, but corporate greed will prevent this from happening.


    Lol. I used to own http://www.ILoveSuperPages.com…. seriously!

  • Stephen  January 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Matt you had some great information about the Yellow Pages. Sadly Yellow hasn’t managed to change its “cover” when internet became dominate. They where late with instigating an online search engine and can’t compete with something that is trusted like Google.

  • Gabe  May 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Matt that info is crazy. I’ve been in the industry for over 7 years and picking client off the yellow pages is incredibly easy. What I simply fair to understand though is why people keep paying for advertising in the yp? I mean common, who looks up business in the yellow pages anymore? Your market value has to be next to nothing.

  • Kevin Grand  June 10, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    You know, this is interesting. The Yellow Pages book that was dropped off at my front door eventually found its way to the garage, from there to the recycling container and from there to who knows where? I can only hope that it gets recycled into another Yellow Pages book. At least that way more trees won’t get cut down.