Benefits of paying for directory listings – Startup Serial #10

Benefits of paying for directory listings

Advertising the old fashioned way: much more worthwhile in my opinion
Advertising the old fashioned way: much more worthwhile in my opinion

As I’m sure anybody who works in a small business will agree with: online directories are extremely annoying.

Take up a free listing on their sites and they will hound you, trying to sell premium listings, web design, SEO, even the kitchen sink.

At this point of the business, I had managed to avoid the majority of these, as I couldn’t justify the extortionate cost of a listing on a website I had never heard of, but then I got called by the big boys: Yell and Yelp.

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I got sucked into the sales pitches and ended up taking up their offers for paid advertising. What did I discover from paying for Yell and Yelp advertising? In my opinion, it totally isn’t worth it.


It was early days, and we were trying to be as frugal as possible with our spending: focussing on advertising like Google Adwords that has an immediate ROI that is extremely measureable.

I had made bad decisions and was tied into two 12 month contracts, and was receiving nothing in return. I let this frustrate me, and researched whether paid Yelp or Yell advertising was supposedly any good for small businesses: and I discovered the answer to be a resounding No.

We still focussed on trying to build an identity on these sites, and invested decent time into optimising our pages, but in Bristol UK, where no directory has a large portion of market share (in the USA Yelp is a powerhouse of a directory).

This is by far the most negative blog post I’ve written, but paying for this advertising did teach us one lesson: 

Some things do require a punt, as they may pay huge dividends, but if research proves that it’s unlikely to be a profitable venture, it’s probably worth avoiding.

We learnt a valuable lesson from paying for this advertising, and won’t be doing it again so spontaneously.


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