I usually get invited to talk to Yell website owners like you, and they usually tell me that they’re frustrated because:
I suppose that having said all of that, you’re going to tell me that none of that applies to you!
Well if everything is perfect with your Yell website – then what are you doing here?! (Only joking).
If everything is working for you then that’s great, and I wish you the very best of luck and I hope you do fantastically well. In that case you won’t need to read any further.
If things aren’t going so well then you can either read on or contact me to see how we can help you.
I don’t mind which you do, I don’t bite especially over the phone (tel:07 506 717 437), and I’m a web geek not a salesman, so you decide – phone, email, text. Or none of those. It’s really up to you. Just ask for Dave. Or email me here.
We all recognise that our website is a critical piece of 21st Century kit for our business, since so many people search online first for whatever they’re looking for (usually from their phones as a starting point), it’s almost certainly going to be the first way they ever hear of us.
It’s really your 24/7 digital sales person, doing the selling for you even while you’re asleep – or at least you hope it is!
Of course as a business person, electrician, shop owner, or whatever you do, you’re busy trying to run your business and satisfy your clients, so do you really have the time or the energy to worry about learning how to build a website, how to maintain a website, or how to do all of that time consuming and mind boggling digital marketing stuff like SEO and Google Ads?
Most people really don’t, and so it’s not surprising that many of them turn that old stalwart of yesteryear advertising, Yell, formally the Yellow Pages, that doorstopper of a tome that listed every company and business in your area covering every conceivable industry.
If you saw the last version of The Yellow Pages you’ll know it looked more like a pamphlet than the huge directory it used to be, and this is because most businesses have moved on and realise that advertising in directories like this or “On Your Doorstep,” “Aire Valley Mag,” or whatever your local versions are – well it’s generally not the est use of your of time or advertising money.
No one is going to sit there reading a magazine or phone book full of ads when they can find exactly what they’re looking for immediately courtesy and thanks to Google.
Press a few buttons and you get exactly what you want in seconds, and a good website can show a potential customer so much more than a tiny box in black and white ink with a short message attempting to sell you to them. A picture paints a thousand words as they say – and a website can have hundreds of photos and images and examples of the work you do.
It’s no wonder then that Yell have decided to take their business into the modern era by – well doing the same thing they did before, but online instead of in print.
Plus offering hugely (in our opinion) expensive, and not very good websites to go with it.
Of course it’s critically important that you choose the right person or web designer to help you build your website – note I say “help you” – that’s because they might have the technical knowhow, but no one knows your business or understands your vision like you.
You need to make sure that whoever you work with is going to sit down with you, listen to what you want, where you need to go, and be sure they understand all of this so that they can build you a website that will achieve those objectives.
The look, feel, aims, objectives and marketing of your website are vitally important to the success of you and your business, and I’m sorry to say that just being a number in the very costly and expensive machinery of a huge corporation isn’t going to get those results for you.
The people that you’re dealing with are almost certainly not sat there wanting to achieve the maximum results and success for you, nor will they be able to dedicate the time and resources you need, because they probably have strict and stringent targets to hit, and every customer they reel in becomes just another number on a sales forecast or spreadsheet.
And that includes you.
It’s the weight of numbers they need to achieve, while keeping their costs to a minimum that we believe make them a poor choice for practically any business looking to do more in online sales.
If you do decide to talk to them to get a feel for what they offer, then please pay careful attention to the questions they ask you about you and your business, what you want to achieve, and what you expect from their website.
If they show more interest in you than in trying to tell you about all of the extra add ons they have then that’s great, but if they start trying to make you decide which options from the never ending menu of additional extras – then at least take a step back and have a good think before you commit yourself to a potentially long and very costly contract that doesn’t actually do anything for you.
Yell.com were originally the Yellow Pages, a huge directory where you paid them a fee per year and you had a teeny tiny ad in the relevant section that would in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and probably even the 90’s have been a very good return on your investment.
In those days every house in the country had a copy, and if you needed a plumber, a mechanic, a roof repair man, or to find out where the bridal shops were, they were all in there.
Anyone wanting anything would flick through the book, find the ad they liked the look of the most, pick up the phone (the ones with the curly wires and the spinny dials) and ring the number.
Hey presto, a customer.
But as smart phones took over from fixed landlines, the Yellow Pages became obsolete, access to Google on your phone was like having the Yellow Pages and the telephone directory and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and the British Library and anything else that’s ever been written at your fingertips 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Who needs a big dusty old yellow book anymore?
Well no one does, and that’s where the death of The Yellow Pages began, and why they moved online and became Yell instead.
No one wanted to pay a lot of money to be in a book that no one looked at any more, so they basically did the same thing online instead – a big dusty old website replaced the big dusty old book.
But anyone can have their own website, they don’t need to be in Yell, because Google has simply overtaken them in volume of users, accuracy of results, and accessibility.
So, it seems to keep up with this shift in paradigm Yell have decided to offer web design and online marketing, but it seems to me at least that their ideas on web design and digital marketing are rooted in those dusty old yellow pages of obsolescence.
In fact some people might say the reason their services are so expensive and so poor are that they’re trying to squeeze as much out of people as possible while returning as little as possible, so they can maximise their margins.
I’m not sure exactly how good or bad they are, but if you look round the internet you’ll find that kind of sentiment though.
You might think that they are trying to ride high on the brand name they’d previously established and you might be right in thinking that they’re trying to morph their old way of doing things into a new and similar online business.
Will it work?
In its heyday the Yellow Pages was hugely successful, a FTSE 100 company generating huge returns and massive profits, but when the internet arrived its fortunes fell off a cliff and it soon racked up losses of £2bn in a single year, and with huge additional debts of over £2.2Billion it was taken over by its lenders and effectively ceased to exist.
In order to try and recover these losses and get the money back for the lenders they’ve changed tactics as above and are now pretty much doing the same thing online as they did in print, with the bolt on business of selling websites and associated online services at huge costs for (in my opinion) poor returns and minimal results.
Some people think that the sales tactics employed by Yell are very high pressure, and perhaps even predatory when they are targeting small and medium businesses who are taking advantage of the free Yell.com listing feature, among others.
If Yell delivered world beating results then we wouldn’t even be thinking about this, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence (on review sites for example) that suggest they deliver the opposite, and when you couple that with one of my pet hates about review sites – that if you have a premium paid account – you can remove negative reviews – then the future for Yell.com maybe doesn’t look so bright.
I mean if you pay them a small fortune (and well over the odds) to have a website built, then have to pay them a monthly fee of at least (I’m told) £50, which could be up to £100, and if you take the “premium Yell directory listing” type features could be heading into £Hundreds per month – then you are almost certainly not getting anywhere near your money’s worth.
I suppose for me the one big thing in my mind would be – “if I pay them £4,000 for a website, and then say £300 per month for 6 months – and then they go bust – where does that leave me?”
Of course the worrying considerations above don’t even cover the fact that you allegedly don’t even own your website – you’re merely renting it off them, and the content – even if you wrote it and provided it to them – allegedly as soon as it goes on “your” website on their servers – they own it all, the copyright for the images, content, the lot.
Can you believe that?
You have Yell build “your” website, they add “your” content, you are tied into a 12 month contract to pay them whatever it is to build the site and to “promote” you online, and if you want to leave after that – you leave with nothing at all.
You are paying for the time and effort to build it, probably for the content that goes on it, but you don’t own any of it at all. If you want to leave you have to pay someone to create a new website, you have to create all of the content again, and you’re basically duplicating costs.
In essence they are relying on you deciding it’s easier to just stick with them than to move, but if you’re paying them a monthly fee then it’s wasted money – forget how much the monthly fees are costing you, have you ever thought about how much potential business they’ve lost you too?
In essence you might well be paying them money to lose you money!
Here’s a screenshot of a few bad Yell reviews, and here’s a link to Trustpilot – I wonder if these bad reviews will still be there?
[These were all screenshotted on the 14th October 2020 and had all been left in the last 48 hours – more below – the Trust Pilot page is here]
If a company tries to strong arm you into staying with them then it’s a bad sign – you should be falling over yourself to stay with them because of the incredible things they achieve for you, not wondering why the Hell you’re using them at all and how the Hell can I get out of and fix this mess?
So just exactly how much might a Yell.com website cost you?
Well apart from the potential £4K+ price tag for a relatively basic website, there are also a host of other potential add ons that make it a very expensive choice.
For example the hosting fees can be almost £100 per month, or almost £1200 per year.
It’s not farfetched to say that you could almost hire a server for that price, there are fantastic hosting companies like Siteground who would put you on their “Go Geek” package for around £300 per year, and this will easily accommodate a huge website with masses of traffic.
One of our clients is now the largest supplier of a home improvement product, they get easily 20,000 visitors per month and they are paying the equivalent of £25 per month for all of this traffic, and world class support.
I find it hard to believe a hairdresser in Birmingham needs a £100 per month hosting package to get maybe 100 to 200 visitors per month.
It seems likely that the prices reflect the lack of understanding of the customers, and this is one of the main reasons you either need to really do your research or to find someone to work with that you can trust.
A small website like that, getting a handful of visitors each month could get away with paying less than £45 per year – so about 2 weeks of potential Yell’s hosting costs.
How can they justify that?
As mentioned previously, a lot of online companies rely on the lack of knowledge of their customers to bump up the prices, SEO and online marketing is (sadly) a great example, to most people it’s a big black box full of mystery that no one understands, so some slick sales person promising the earth for what seems a low price and you jump at it.
The reality is very different, for example Yell offers their “Connect” service, supposed to be a low cost SEO service at £40 per month.
SEO is not like it was 10 years ago where you could pay someone £20 to blast links at your website and you’d be on page 1 in a fortnight.
Today that idea is laughable. Or cry-able if you actually were daft enough to try it.
One of our clients is now on page 1 of Google through our SEO services, in the top 3 positions for every brand they sell, BUT it’s taken 12 months and between £3K and £5K per month to achieve that, but they are now selling over £375K of product per month (from about £120K).
Why is it so expensive?
Well it isn’t really, is it?
In 12 months they’ve paid us around £45K to achieve results that are now achieving ADDITIONAL sales of over £250K per MONTH that they will continue to see grow and grow and grow.
About an extra £3 Million in sales per year for a cost of around £57,000.
Do you really think you could achieve the same from Yell’s £40 per month SEO service?
If that was possible then Yell wouldn’t be selling you over priced websites and services, they wouldn’t have time for you they’d be too busy trying to count all of their money.
Yell are not cheap. They might try to paint themselves as a cheap solution, but really they are anything but. Websites apparently start from at least £499, but in reality the price for a 15-page website with a passable design tends to be £4000 and above.
We can do better for you, with better online results in Google, for a little over half the price. And no monthly fees (unless you want SEO services on top – and your money would be much more productive being spent on that than overpriced hosting and other useless marketing services).
On top of the scandalous web design costs (often for little more than a template, probably put together by someone on the other side of the world for 50c per hour), and on top of the ridiculous hosting costs, you then have all of the extra costs they’ll probably try to tie you into for 12 months.
Premium Yell listings, and then of course the added extra advertising services which can rack up costs to over £1000 per month.
Honestly, it might be a cliché, but if you’re paying this kind of money to Yell – you need a check-up from the neck up.
We’ve seen people who have spent over £5500 for a website, then been paying an additional £1000 per month on extra services.
I genuinely feel sorry for people like this, because often they are experienced business people who just don’t get the internet.
They believe if they pay good money to a company they recognise, then they’ll get what they are paying for. Unfortunately (in my humble opinion) they just get fleeced because they don’t have the knowledge or experience in digital sales to know any better.
It’s not something to be ashamed of, we all only know what we know, and most digital marketers and online business owners wouldn’t have the first idea how to run a bricks and mortar shop or handle employees.
They are very different skill sets and are not easily transferrable between one platform or medium and the other.
It’s kind of a horses for courses thing, and it’s really important to realise where your strengths are, and your weaknesses so that no one can take advantage of any gaps in your knowledge or experience.
It just makes me sick that there are not just individuals, but huge corporations who will exploit these vulnerabilities we all have to line their own pockets at our expense.
On top of all of that they’ll try and push you to use their other services like sponsored listings on Yell.com (why – Google blows them out of the water – who even gets to Yell.com?), Google AdWords PPC management (why are they offering Google Ads services if Yell is so great?), social media advertising (same as for Google Ads – why if everyone (or anyone) goes to Yell?), and even the Connect product that is one of the most laughable SEO products I’ve ever seen.
£40 per month – Connect (ridiculous supposed SEO package – in our opinion you’d get more value lighting your gas stove with £20 notes)
£50-£100 per month – Website hosting (You could literally hire a whole server for a top UK website for that price)
£250-ish per month – For a sponsored listing on Yell.com position no.1 (In our opinion you might as well be position no.999 because no one looks at Yell, they look at Google)
£80-ish per month – For a local Yell VIP listing (again – Google places are what shows at the top of the Google results – who will ever see this?)
£45+ per month – For a “Yell heavyweight prominence listing” (If the first 2 didn’t work why would you pay for this as well? Especially since Google will smash this one as well.)
£500+ per month – PPC (Google Ads or Bing Ads management) and maintenance cost. – What you need to get to the bottom of here is how much of your money is actually being spent on ads? The minute the word “manager” or “management” is involved then you’re probably paying £500 for about £50 worth of your money being spent on the ads. Which is daylight robbery that even Dick Turpin would be ashamed of.
£200+ per month – Display and maintenance. – No idea what this is, sounds, frankly, like a load of bollocks. Expensive ones at that.
Apart from the alleged big claims and small delivery issues, the Yell sales team are in my opinion a bit like those charity chuggers, the ones where when you sign up you go on the suckers list and then you can’t get them to stop ringing and pestering you.
They have targets to meet and they know you’re willing to pay, so it seems like they try to milk the cow for every last drop.
They also of course try to tie you into at least a 12 month contract so you have no way out until the end, then you find out they own your website, you were only renting it so you have a dilemma – keep on paying through the nose or hope you can find a better solution.
At that point you might think you’re better with the devil you know, but not only are most web designers and SEO etc. companies not like that, Yell seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Smaller businesses like mine HAVE to rely on repeat customers and word of mouth recommendations, and so we WANT to treat our clients like VIPs because they are, to us, literally like gold dust.
You then have the question with Yell of how good their websites actually are – I mean for £4,000 or so you’d expect a dedicated web developer creating a bespoke web design for you that is unlike anything else out there.
Is that what you get?
I’m sure Yell say you get great value for your money, but some people feel they got a template that as a bit different to other peoples.
You can see this by looking through the sites they’ve designed.
One issue here is that if they are (and I don’t know if they are, I’m surmising, and might be wrong) then they might have a lot of sites with a lot of the same tags, image names, and etc., which Google won’t like at all.
The other issue with template based websites is that the “designer” (they aren’t really a designer, they just fit information into pre-determined boxes) makes your business fit into the website, rather than making the website fit around your business.
That might sound like semantics, but it’s really not – it’s like you picking a slightly baggy suit off the peg at a thrift store just because you fit into it, versus having a tailor made suit that is made by a professional to fit you personally like a glove, to accentuate the best of you.
Getting Yell to properly install Google (or other) analytics can also be an issue.
There are people out there who say that they have had the wrong code installed on their Yell website and it’s then taken months to get it resolved, something that should really take no more than 15 minutes.
If that is true it makes you wonder if it’s a staffing issue (i.e. not enough people there to do the work), or a technical ability issue (they don’t know what they’re doing).
Whatever the answer if it takes you 18 months to get the phone number changed because the wrong one is on your website – something is seriously wrong.
I suppose if I were a person who did not easily trust huge corporations, and if I were paying them a lot of money for Google Ads etc., then I’d wonder if they weren’t able to give me analytics data because it might reveal just how much they were over-charging me by.
Good job I’m so trusting. And don’t use Yell.
When our clients need help from us, they ring or email us and we fix their problems right there and then, that’s why one of our clients has been with us since 2008. Yes – almost 14 years!
And they are a Doctors surgery, so not an organisation that can wait for results.
The general consensus of opinion with Yell is that the service and support are miserable in at least equal measure, with the typical support coming from call centres from the deepest darkest depths of the Earth, where English seems to be unheard of, and the internet is nothing but a myth.
Imagine paying £1000’s (Thousands of Pounds) to have a website that isn’t that good, or maybe doesn’t even work, a support system that allegedly doesn’t work and is (it’s suggested) manned by people who don’t seem to be that technically skilled, a promotional system that delivers (according to some) no customers, a paid SEO service that is worthless (according to a lot of people who use it).
Where do I sign up – I can’t wait to give my money to them!
The Truth About Me and Yell
Listen, seriously, I’ll be completely honest with you.
The reason I’ve written this is because I want to take Yell’s website business, and so I would say all of that wouldn’t I?
But I’m saying it because I honestly believe its all true, and that we offer a far superior service at a fraction of the cost, and we achieve, in some cases, life changing results for our clients.
I can give you 2 prime (and recent) examples of that right now, one an EV (electric vehicle) charger installer, the other a flooring (LVT or luxury vinyl tiles) distributor.
There are many more. If you want to know about them you’ll need to ask me. Don’t worry, I don’t bite (especially not over the phone), and I’m also a web geek, not a salesman.
Feel free to call me (Dave) any time you like. Get my number or email here.
And instead of me saying, X, Y, or Z about Yell or their services why not just take a look instead at Trustpilot and see what the people who used them have to say – it’s all there, the great, good, bad, and ugly – so you can make up your own mind. [see more yell website design reviews here].