The Sad, Sad State of Local SEO

I have three kids. All boys.

Two that are alpha males, and one that I’m pretty sure is smarter than me (I hope he doesn’t put this together anytime soon).

My middle guy (an alpha) has become increasingly independent lately. He has opted out of using his booster seat at the table.

I get it. Nobody wants to sit on a hard piece of plastic whilst shoveling finger foods in their mouth.

So I say to myself “the next time yellow pages gets delivered I’ll make it a fun game that he gets to sit on the book.”

In theory this is a great idea. In reality it’s not.

Why you ask? Well, YP came around the other day…

After the book sat on the porch for about a week I pick it up only to realize that it’s no more than an inch thick.

Not going to work for its intended usage.

alternative to yellow pages

This image is real size. Measure the thickness of the book with your finger.

The book slowly made its way into my office over the next week and today I cracked it open to take a peak and see if I had any interest in doing some sleazy sales calls that convert 1% of the time if you’re lucky cold calls.

I didn’t but…

I did do a little research and it dawned on me that the majority of local businesses still don’t get it!

So, here’s some insight on YP, Local Businesses, and Local SEO for you.

Perceived Value

The internet is fast, easy, and sleazy!

Print, though, has to be created. It has to be designed and approved. Sent to a big warehouse with lots of machines and people and time clocks, and you have to touch and feel the product to make sure it dances the way it should in the eyes of the consumer.

What. A. Crock.

Here’s the deal. A 1/2 page, full color ad in the YP is going to run you about $800-$1200 a month.

At minimum that is almost $10,000 a year! Just say that number in your mind a couple of times…

$10,000. $10,000. $10,000.

For a chance that someone still goes to “the book” instead of the internet to look for your business. Hah! Fat chance!

fresno local seo for electrical company

This company paid big money for this ad.
They have not optimized their Google+ Local page that is FREE!

Now say to yourself $1500. Fifteen-Hundred.

That’s it, on average. For the year (probably the next 2-3 years)…

to supply your business with an endless stream of leads every time somebody searches for what you offer.

But here’s the kicker. I still get balked at when I mention I do local seo for $1000 to a business that runs in the yellow pages!

All this to say it’s obvious most businesses still do not perceive value in the web.

Easy Gains In Local (Not For Long)

So Performance Electric in my hometown of Fresno (pictured above) runs a nice display ad in YP.

They even list their URL and actual land-line to the business. Hooray!

(side-note I just visited the url, does not work. phone does though!)

If I Google the DBA which happens to be an exact match domain (if it was working) I’m served their G+ page.

Of course it’s NOT claimed or optimized. No biggie though that’s pretty easy to do.

But here is where this company should start licking its chops!

fresno local seo results

Lots of opportunity to break into the pack.

I might catch some flack for this but I’m going to throw it out there anyways. (It’s Friday, #YOLO)

If this business claimed and optimized their G+ page then headed to a couple of other services like 4square, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, and Merchant Circle and did the same there is a big chance they could crack the pack.

I like that “crack the pack.” If I ever get invited to speak some where I’m going to use that!

I digress.

Think about this. Performance Electric could spend ZERO dollars and get listed on Google.


Now add a one page site that has contact info, town + keywords in title tag, and a little text on it’s history or services and Wah-Lah they are A, B, C, or D in the results.

I mean c’mon! Right?

But it won’t be that way for long. This whole local seo market is shifting. More and more companies are offering a local seo service.

Which means more and more of your competitors are going to start competing for those tops spots.

But, like I said before, you could always just hire a professional, reputable local seo to get you ranked for a one time flat fee in most cases if you don’t have the time.

What Will You Do?

Some of you reading this offer local seo services. Feel free to call these dudes. That’s not my kinda deal, you know, cold calling.

But for most of you reading this you know you can get ranked with a little elbow grease and some guidance.

And to the select few who are just getting started YOU can do it! You can get your local business to show up higher on Google. Start today! Stop wasting money on silly books. I believe in you!

Need help? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll give you my advice on your local business.


  1. Lucinda DeVries says

    I am working with someone right now who pays $800 a month on Dex for online and print. Getting him to stop has been impossible. He has agreed to stop the online portion but says his customers still use the book. He has zero data to prove this. So, like a good marketer, I added a tracking phone number to the ads. I’ll be sure to share that once the results are in!

    • Mikel Zaremba says

      Hey Lucinda – thanks for stopping by! Yes it makes you want to pull your hair out especially when they can’t even prove they generate business from it. Be careful with that tracking number!

      Look forward to hearing the results!

  2. says

    Hey Mikel,

    Thanks for all of the great info…any ideas for local real estate business. Been checking out all the stuff on your site and I see a lot of great ways to boost the site for my lady. It’s her site a local Realtor in the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada. Lot’s of competition, but I don’t see anyone really taking advantage of local SEO. If you could share any little extra’s we would love to hear your thoughts.

    I see a ton of local business spending way too much on YP and other advertising that just isn’t effective as it once was.

    • Mikel Zaremba says

      Hey Dave – yeah, not a lot of competition in that area as of now. She could start by adding her contact info (address, phone) in a schema to the contact page. Her G+ page is setup for a personal brand, you may want to look into creating a local G+ page that uses the office location and data then verify your website and account to send a stronger signal about your business to Google.

      Basically she’s not going to rank for local results because she is using her entities for personal branding. Which is fine if that is how you want it done.

      I’m sure there aren’t a lot of citations out there with her NAP so that is also going to affect local results.

      I’ve always admired what this group done, solid marketing tactics all the way around.

      You should continue to blog but rework those headlines, highlight your listings better with photography add the locations in a schema and talk about the area in detail. She seems to be targeting sellers more than buyers on her site so try creating an ebook about how to stage a home, or critical areas to de-clutter before an open house, etc.

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