Yell.com has been around for quite a while. In that time, they have served tens of thousands of customers. Business owners who need assistance with advertising, SEO, social media and more! In this blog, I will go into detail on how these services are next to useless and how they have conned businesses for years. If you are thinking about choosing Yell to provide services for your business, don’t take my word for it. Just look at any Yell Business Ad on Facebook and see all the unsatisfied customers. If you are with Yell, I’ve put the most useful information in the top so you can get out of your contract easier.
Table of Contents
- The Yell Contract for Business
- Getting Out of the Yell Business Contract
- Yell’s Business Practices
- How does Yell get over 5.5 Million Visitors a Month
- How Yell Tricks Your Website Analytics (The kids love this one!)
- Yell’s ‘Smart Websites’
- Yell and SEO
- Wix and SEO
- How Previous Customers Feel About Yell
- Yell’s ConnectScan Service
- Yell’s History of Terrible Advice
- Yell in The Media
- Who is Danny Richman?
- Yell FAQ
The Yell Contract for Businesses
The Yell Contract is a nightmare to escape from. When a person accepts the contract through sales pitches over the phone, the contract they are actually signing up for removes a significant amount of responsibilities when it comes to the services that Yell provides. This is because the contract agreed is not what is agreed over the phone but rather Yell’s advertising contract, which can be found on their site. Usually a business accepting the terms and conditions of the contract will be asked to digitally sign the contract, and then they are signed into the digital rather than a verbal agreement.
It is important to note that when a person signs up, as of the 28th April 2022 version, they do so not as a consumer, but as a business, which strips them of their consumer rights, which would normally allow them to cancel within a “14 day cooling off period”. Business to Business contracts do not need to adhere to this, and every customer of Yell I have spoken to has not been made aware that this electronic contract is the contract they have signed up for until it’s subtly added to their receipts, so once you sign up, you’re pretty much stuck unless you sign up with the Yell Action Group – more on them later.
Yell’s contract removes a sufficient amount of responsibilities from Yell, such as the responsibility for their products to work effectively or their adverts to actually perform. This may be regarded as an “unfair contract” should you ever be taken to court. However this is not something that can be relied upon.
It is my opinion that Yell’s contract is not only unfair, it’s downright abusive when it comes to how the other business is treated. They are using their knowledge and history – being the company to provide the Yellow Pages directory to sell products to unsuspecting customers that are not worth the money. They using their status as a longtime marketing service, from the antiquated Yellow Pages to the modern Yell Online Directory to misrepresent the quality of the services they sell. It’s important to read the contract to understand where I am coming from. It is very hard to escape from, and so far, I have only seen people who have had to go into liquidation of assets and the closure of their companies get out of the situation, though many people who have signed up with the Yell Action Group seem to be in the clear.
I did find that Force Majeure, which is not normally enforced under UK Law, is a part of the Yell contract, so it can be enforced as part of the terms. I believe this is the best method of termination from Yell as of the 28th April 2022 version of the contract. This is covered by section 27.6.
“27.6. Force Majeure. Neither Party shall be in breach of this Agreement nor liable for delay in performing, or failure to perform, any of its obligations pursuant to this Agreement if such delay or failure is caused by a Force Majeure Event. In such circumstances the affected Party shall be entitled to a reasonable extension of the time for performing such obligations. Either Party may suspend or terminate this Agreement immediately upon written notice if a Force Majeure Event occurs and has prevented the other Party from performing its obligations pursuant to this Agreement for four weeks and continues to do so.”
Force Majeure is defined by Yell: “Force Majeure Event means any circumstances or causes beyond a Party’s reasonable control, including by way of example insurrection or civil disorder, acts of governmental or military authorities, strikes, civil unrests, terrorism, war, fire, flood, prolonged general power outages, changes of the regulatory environment, or acts or omissions of any third party for whom the affected Party is not responsible.”
It’s important to note the phrasing: “Any circumstances or causes beyond a Party’s reasonable control” This is followed by examples, however, these are examples, as the contract specifies “Any circumstances or causes”. Which I find to be quite interesting. I would recommend taking your contract to a solicitor who specialises in contract law, and getting professional legal advice. I strongly believe this is the best starting point. It should be noted that they specify “the other party” in section 27.6 so if you have not received sufficient service from Yell (which will be the case) in over 4 weeks, you should be entitled to cancel.
I find it interesting, and it should be important to note – that considering the contract becomes a monthly rolling contract once it expires, that it has to be specifically for 12 months with little to no means of escape beforehand. After all, it makes sense to me that a contract that can run month to month should be possible to cancel on a monthly, rather than yearly basis, as far as advertising is concerned.
When it comes to the extortionate prices people pay Yell Limited for websites, however, a payment plan over time makes more sense, which is understandable, though we will get onto why their websites are awful and mostly worthless later on in this blog.
Getting Out of The Yell Business Contract
The Yell Action Group is a consortium of businesses and sole traders working with Croft Solicitors, many of whom have been mis-sold their contract by Yell. They work hard to protect people that Yell have deceived through manipulation, misrepresentation and more. You can register with them if you have been tricked into getting a contract with them to join the claim they are bringing against Yell. This is on a no-win no-fee basis so it should not impact negatively on you or your business. These people are good people and will try and help you. They are very experienced in dealing with Yell’s unreasonable terms and conditions and their advice is solid.
When signing up with the Yell Action Group, you will also have to sign up here with Croft Solicitors, in order to be properly registered. Croft Solicitors are dispute resolution specialists and have dedicated a lot of their time and energy to the support of small businesses who have been hurt by Yell’s malpractice.
Yell’s Business Practices
Yell has a history of using deceptive practices and hard sell tactics to business. I think this is best explained in Danny Richman’s video on the subject. Having talked to customers who have been sold products they didn’t need or products that were not useful to their businesses, plus talking to a 13 year Yell sales veteran on and off for a few weeks, I’m too annoyed with them to talk about it without excessive bias. I will mention that the way they sign customers into an unnecessary 12 month contract is reprehensible though. Anyway, I’ll let Danny take it from here.
Yell have an interesting history when it comes to advertising. Not just for their customers adverts but for their own company adverts. Due to their retargeting strategies, they are a surefire way to make up for the reviews section they lack on their Facebook pages.
Yell advertise purely to business owners and weirdly a lot of people who have already been conned by their services. Their adverts are badly monitored by their marketing team who forget to hide the bad comments. The comments sections of their ads are full of angry responses from business owners who have experienced Yell’s services. They usually warn others not to waste their money, but also they complain about Yell’s dodgy business practices among other things.
As a business owner, adverts are a vital reflection of your brand, not just in the form they take, as a hook to draw in a hungry audience, but because they are an important way of communicating with your customers. A simple question that should bring a little doubt to your mind is this: if a business owner cannot properly represent their own brand online, making themselves look good without responding effectively to criticism, how can they properly represent my company.
As a digital marketer, when I have run ads for companies, I have always tried to look after my customers’ needs which in many ways means going and working for the business where possible and learning as much as I can about specific businesses. I have observed work at garages, gone up on rooftops with roofers, cooked food, studied criminal law and served customers at restaurants. Each of these experiences has helped me to ensure I always deliver a person centred response to a potential client should an immediate response be required. The issue with Yell is that due to their remote nature, they will never be able to provide you with the same value as hiring a local marketer.
How does Yell get over 5.5 Million Visitors Per Month?
Yell has a number of techniques they use to acquire their visitors. My scans of their website indicated that they get between 70,000 and 80,000 visitors going directly to Yell’s homepage, which is exceedingly small considering its total visitors, if we are to believe that they are indeed being used by people as a directory. At a 75,000 average that’s about 1.3% Of the site’s total visitors per month, and this was during a month when Yell were acquiring 11 Million visits, according to the scan which is less than 1% of its total visits that month. In my opinion as someone who provides SEO services, this is a red flag.
Yell has a few advantages over other directory websites, which allow it to gain more visitors. These visitors aren’t always going to Yell because it’s a directory with useful services, but more so because they cover a large number of search results due to the way their website is set up. If people were using Yell as a directory, we would see much higher traffic on its homepage. Here are some of the reasons they do so well in terms of visitors.
- Reviews on Google. Yell, as a long established website that publishes reviews, has a priority on websites like Google, which means that they will get hits through the Google My Business of any company which has a Yell profile.
- People reviewing companies, which come in through a review section on the company’s website. The traffic comes in when someone is directly sent through a review, with the intent to write a review of the company whose site they are visiting from. Yell also recommends that their customers ask for Yell reviews and provides email formats for that specific purpose.
- Keywords appearing on search engines. Due to Yell’s immense power and huge array of backlinks along with the fact it’s an aged domain, Yell has a very nice ability to appear high in search results when looking for specific businesses. Long tail keywords such as “Barbers near Filey” will show up. Funnily enough, when I did my scans, Barbers near Filey as a long tail keyword was getting more hits than the main Yell website. So more people were looking for Barbers near Filey than Yell. Make of that what you will.
Ultimately, Yell is getting a tonne of visitors to their website, mainly due to the huge amount of pages there. People are going to the site to review businesses, directed by the business owners.
A quick Google search for “Site: yell.com” shows around 32 million results. If we are taking the 11 million monthly visits I got whilst scanning the site that means that on average each page is being viewed less than 1 time a month. Which doesn’t say much for business profiles being beneficial really, does it?
How Yell tricks your website Analytics, such as Google Analytics
Yell currently utilises UTM codes in order to create the impression that visitors are coming through Yell. Their sales team state that this is so they can track traffic, which is not in fact the case. Due to the setup of the code it makes every click through any link they interfere with look like the traffic has come from Yell. If you want an example, add the following string of code to your URL, then check your analytics to see what I mean in your referrals.
When this string is added to a URL on your website, you can check your analytics for that ‘click’ and even if your website is not currently on Yell, it will appear your visit has come through Yell. You only need to add “/?utm_source=yell&utm_medium=referral” to create this kind of impression. I suppose the campaign part is just so they can claim it’s for use in their tracking analytics.
If you skip to 7 minutes 19 seconds into the previous video, you can see that the code was added to this website, which Yell built, in the GDPR cookie notice. This means whenever anyone went on the website regardless of where they found it, (Search engines included) even if that had NOTHING to do with Yell, clicking that banner would make it look like the click came through from Yell. So any visitor interacting with the banner would create a fraudulent impression that Yell brought in a customer. A great reason to be careful when websites are being set up. No doubt Yell will eventually find this and remove the issue, however I managed to record it live.
So you’re probably thinking: Well, this can’t be so bad… Can it? If Yell sets up your Social Media for you, such as Facebook or Instagram or WORSE Google My Business… Well, just think, all the people clicking through your Facebook, Instagram or GMB links will now look like they’re visitors coming through Yell, even though they aren’t. (These social media backlinks are really powerful and WILL get you clicks!)
This is an amazing little con and will allow their team to upsell you. After all, now it looks like a TONNE of potential customers are now visiting you because of Yell’s hard work. What a great, great service they’re providing (he says sarcastically.) *Sigh.* I could add this code to your links and it’d look like you were getting traffic from my website. I’d just have to change the code a little so it had my company name in there, but it wouldn’t mean I’d brought you the traffic. Absolute con artists.
So what are we looking at here? Well, legally this falsification of data falls under The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 which states: “A person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person’s prejudice.” (Which would be potentially paying Yell money based on false reports and bad data!)
So in layman’s terms: When they create the impression their services work through providing false analytics and doctor results of other analytics not affiliated with their services, they are able to persuade customers that their services are valid, which leads them to act in a way they normally wouldn’t in terms of purchasing services from Yell. A thoroughly sinister and exploitative practice.
Considering the amount of business to business advertising we see in a world seemingly devoid of ads to promote Yell as an actual directory. (Have you ever seen an advert for the directory rather than their marketing services? I think not!) It is likely a lot of the people checking out Yell are business owners who are investigating the platform. Despite Yell getting a huge amount of traffic, the majority of this comes through the way Yell’s website is set up online, so when people are looking for search terms like “Barbers near Filey” Which more people went to than Yell’s actual domain name in my last scan, this little red flag shows that in the whole of the UK, more people are interested in Barbers near Filey than Yell. So when it comes to misrepresentation, just remember, more people who need a haircut near Filey are actively looking for that than going direct to Yell. Filey has a population of under 7000. This whole thing seems weird to me, but I digress.
When salespeople state that Yell receives 5.5 million visitors per month, this is across the website and in many cases for specific search terms which happen to have results on their directory due to the way the website is set up. Yell actually receives on average around 75,000 visitors per month who are directly going to Yell’s homepage. The 5.5 million+ is not a lie when it comes to the entire website, but make of the homepage hits what you will. For me this is a red flag. Despite some of my blogs doing titanically well in search results online, I’m not a directory, I’m a digital marketer, so I’m not as useful to as many people as a directory should be.
Yell’s ‘Smart’ Websites
So here for me, things get interesting. Yell offers a ‘professional’ service when it comes to website design. It’s interesting that they use Wix, and in some cases Duda to build websites. Neither of these website designers are amazing when it comes to creating something that looks and feels professional. When Ahrefs analyzed 6.4 million websites, half WordPress, half Wix, 46.1% of all WordPress websites were generating organic traffic, compared to 1.4% of Wix websites. What this means is that if you choose Wix over WordPress you’re only 3% as likely to generate organic traffic. Red flag. (*It’s important to note my first website was built in Wix, and there ARE ways to get your site to appear in search results, however it’s a big issue with using them to build your websites, as every website I’ve seen that they’ve built lacks sufficient SEO optimisation to be effective.) More on their awful SEO later.
This difference in the ability to rank is definitely a titanic difference in terms of your ability to acquire organic traffic, and as a business owner who owns a website, you are going to want to have a site that gets organic traffic and appears in search results (Under more than just your business name – it’s EASY to get your business to appear under it’s name online. Even for Wix!)
Yell should be aware of Ahrefs because they’re one of the biggest and best authorities for SEO advice. They will also be aware of the limited tools Wix allows for SEO. A professional should not recommend a Wix website for any customer, however their design tools allow anyone to design a site that looks good fairly easily.
What Yell decides makes a ‘smart’ website can be seen easily on their website analyzer, which is spurious to say the least, despite being third party. I say this because when you use it, you’ll see a few little pointers to show upsells on it.) These are two specific factors:
- A Search function (which is standard on most websites.)
- An online chat function (which can easily be added to any business with a plugin on wordpress.
I tend to avoid live chat due to marketing data that suggests if someone goes to your business and leaves a contact form message they stop looking for other companies and wait for a response, whereas if you have a chat and you don’t get back to a customer quickly, you lose the lead as they go to another company. I don’t recommend a live chat unless you’re planning on manning it 24/7. Customers, especially UK based customers HATE chatbots.
I always recommend having a search function on your site if possible, as they can be really useful, even if not a lot of people actually use them. This tends to be based upon what kind of website you use. So a business that offers mental health advice or writes photography blogs will likely get more use out of it than a legal firm.
Wix websites which aren’t properly put together suffer from massive performance issues in terms of loading speeds when it comes to pages, which can have an effect on how well you rank. They have problems with video and animated backgrounds, which can look cool, but slow page speed down to a crawl. A lot of Wix plugins will also slow down the site to the point that they cannot be loaded on mobile phones unless you have a supremely good connection and a modern phone. This can lead to huge bounce rates which will ultimately get you penalised in search engine results.
I will say, for all their flaws, that Wix has a decent eCommerce solution, because WooCommerce can be a nightmare to set up if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, if you’re not doing eCommerce, I don’t recommend Wix at all. As a restaurant marketer, I’ve had several customers using the restaurants plugins, and not one of their websites loads well on a phone. They’re sluggish and tend to crash regularly. I don’t recommend Wix sites if you’re going to build a lot of pages or if you need your site to be reliable. Mine is built in WordPress, and once I went WordPress, I never went back. Yell’s site isn’t made in Wix. If it was, it’d never load.
Of all the Yell built websites I have looked at and analysed, I have not come across one that is built to a professional standard. Some are so bad, they even look like an angry kid threw a load of paints at a wall and someone drew graffiti over it. All have been sluggish and had loading issues. It’s also interesting to note that if the sites aren’t properly optimised they’re not only using a lot of resources from your customers, but they’re using a lot of their own resources, which can cause the sites to crash for the rest of the month once you have used up your limits.
None of the websites they have built for customers have been close to the value of £399.00 Which is Yell’s cheapest site, and some have been sold for £3,500.00 and lack any of the features which would make the site even fit into the £399.00 crowd.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re a hobbyist and want something you can easily splatter together, Wix isn’t a bad tool. But for businesses working at a professional level, the many flaws of Wix quickly begin to show. Bear in mind, Yell claims to be providing valuable professional services, and I can say beyond reasonable doubt that if you’re a professional and want to appear professional, on top of actually showing in search results other than for your company name, you do NOT want to use it. Go with a site that will load reliably. Go with WordPress.
Yell and SEO
Few people know who Danny Richman is but he is a personal hero to many people who have been conned by Yell. Since Danny’s crusade against the company’s dodgy practices, Yell have had to remove SEO as one of their main services.
In Danny’s enjoyable Blog “Review of Yell Business’ SEO Service – A good deal for Small Businesses?” Danny opens fire with a thorough analysis of Yell’s dodgy dealings in which he unmasks many of the practices Yell was involved in.
An example of this is where Yell would pay bloggers “for their time” to get backlinks which Google would likely penalise. (As a fellow SEO guy I can vouch for this.) Yell also warned against this practice. I agree with Danny wholeheartedly that warning a customer against black hat marketing techniques then providing them those same techniques at an extortionate price is not ok.
Yell still provide “GeoTargeting” which is an SEO service on their ultimate websites. This is incredibly poor quality GeoTargeting, and it is almost completely useless for helping your business to rank in the targeted areas. A little more on that later.
Wix and SEO
Wix has a bad rep when it comes to SEO. Ahrefs did an analysis where they compared Wix to WordPress and discovered that WordPress domains got a staggering amount more monthly traffic. SEO is possible with Wix but at a level where a kindergartener would be happy splattering paint on paper.
With highly limited SEO capabilities which will be marred by the slow speeds and awful bandwidth of the Wix websites, it is much less likely your website will pick up visitors than a website built on WordPress or using other site builders.
It should be noticed that Yell offers a GeoTargeting service with their more expensive websites. Having checked their Ultimate Websites and seen the GeoTargeting they have provided, it is not sufficient to serve the purpose, lacking both wordcount and information to be written to a professional standard. Professional GeoTargeting should have a high word count and contain information about the local area. Not just splash the town name with sloppily written content a third grader would be ashamed of.
How Previous Customers Feel About Yell
If you’re a business owner, at some point it’s likely you’ve come across Yell.com. There are many reasons business owners get in contact with their sales team. Often it’s the case they’re looking for a backlink from the business profile, something less experienced SEO people recommend. (Which is useless as previously mentioned!) Most business owners are sold on the idea of backlinks, not realising that Yell provides a useless no-follow backlink. Inevitably, you will probably end up seeing Facebook ads. I would recommend to any business owner that they read the responses to these adverts, to see just how Yell operates, to check out their social media and see the angry responses of customers left in limbo, and before they think about trusting the trustpilot reviews, I’d caution them that you can buy five star reviews cheaply enough online. (Though there are a LOT of one star reviews that detail the customer experience.)
Though it is my intention to ward people away from being tied into a one sided contract in which they have to pay regardless of weather or not Yell even does anything, so I am biassed in my own appraisals, I hope at least a few people who read this will research the company before wading into the quagmire of enforced payment under threat of legal action for awful/no service.
Clawabear is a company that experienced Yell’s substandard services firsthand. I have been speaking with the owner for a while. I had previously come across their review on their experiences with Yell, in which they explained a little about the way the salespeople over the phone had behaved, and the promises that had been broken. In this, the owner explains a little about the code added to their Facebook page, which as I mentioned earlier is there mainly to convince analytics that visitors have come directly from the Yell website, despite visitors actually coming through from Facebook – in this case. After my customers had gone through similar experiences, reading the blog filled me with an absolute sense of fury towards Yell, which is weirdly enough one of the reasons I started investigating them in the first place. I was pleasantly surprised to actually meet her online.
Yell.com. A Broken Promise. An unrealistic dream.
In my experience I can only give one solid piece of advice.
Change the Y to H with a little bit of magic and you reveal this companies true hidden nature.
Bullying tactics and a Sales pitch that will have you believing you are onto a winning streak to gain more sales, clients, orders and so many phone calls you can’t cope with the dizziness of work coming in.
They make you feel like you have hit the jackpot. Jumping around with estatic joy at prospects you think you must be attached to to succeed with a glass of Champagne in your hand.
That is their biggest lie.
It’s a trap.
it’s a trap into a long darkness of huge debt, worry, anxiety and stress with a B2B contract tied to your ankles and everyday thoughts.
So the moral of this little snippet is:
“Stay away from Yell.com, learn your own marketing skills, follow Alex and his lessons on how to create a platform of advertising in the very same format Yell’s Sales Team use. Do research into this company and their fake reviews. Do everything you possibly can, yourself, without these Hounds sent by Satan on your back. And please, I beg you, do not let this horrendous Company build a website for you. Your story will end up much darker than mine if you do.
Join I hate Yell..com on Facebook and they will help you through Croft Solicitors with no financial cost to yourself to bring you back to Earth with a smile knowing you can win this dragging you down fight.
I am so very grateful to Alex for the sound advice and help he offers. All because he cares and fights to stop one of the biggest Scams known to Man by continuing to trade as a legitimate business that pressurizes their Clients ( small business owners and sole traders ) into the turmoils of Hell.
Reviews Sites that Aren’t Trustpilot:
Yell’s ConnectScan Service
Yell provided a service Called ConnectScan that I believe has now been redacted (like a lot of what salespeople from Yell have said in their calls) This service gives a very basic scan of your website and shows you how well you’re doing across a number of websites.
This service is not particularly strong, however it does show you a number of websites you can have your address mentioned on. This however is not a useful tool in the slightest, as you only really need a Facebook Page for your company and a Google My Business to effectively market your business on social media.
Danny Richman who I mentioned previously covered the fact that this tool is only used to upsell customers the Reputation Manager, which is a thoroughly useless product, as you only really need two apps, Meta’s Business Suite and Google My Business to respond to customers. (Both of these you can get on the Apple and Android stores.)
ConnectScan is not an effective tool for proving that you need anything, and anyone using it to try and sell you a product is trying to con you.
Yell’s History of Terrible Advice
As a digital marketer that focuses on SEO, I am an avid blogger by trade, and Yell has a beautiful plethora of blogs chock full of bad advice. Whilst the majority of the blogs offer some useful content there are some which are a beautiful minefield of bad ideas.
In: Should Small Businesses Stay on Twitter? Yell asks the important question of whether Twitter is still a good place for small businesses. (This is shortly following the acquisition of the platform by Elon Musk.) I have always personally thought a small business is unlikely to benefit from being on the platform, however if a business has built up a significant following, Yell’s warning advice to businesses remaining on Twitter is frankly idiotic. Regardless of who owns or runs the platform, which has been plagued with many issues Twitter has NOT addressed until recently. (Now might be a good time to point out that Musk began to shut down illegal CSAM content by allowing people to more effectively report it, something Twitter has tactlessly avoided for years.) More of these issues are the huge array of bots on Twitter, and hate speech which has been rife on the user end, but off the business aspect of the platform, both of the issues are ones that Musk is trying to shut down. The majority of businesses which remain neutral politically should see no negative impact from remaining on Twitter doing what they do best.
Twitter has never really been a platform that has shown a great benefit for small companies, though it has been a good place to get funding campaigns for film and game makers at times. The issue here is that if you have built up a following, the urging of people to not engage as they normally would on Twitter could have a negative impact on your business. If bots are being kicked off, this can only have a positive impact on your reach and give you better marketing analytics. In the article, they mockingly mention crypto bros but maybe the crypto ideology of HODL or Hold on for Dear Life could be useful here. Every social media account you own is an asset, and if you’re posting on social media, and you’re not getting into politics, it’s just business as usual.
In Off-Page SEO, We are greeted with some great information, followed by a sneaky pitch in the Reviews section. The writer has subtly set up the information you need in the blog to actually pitch a sale. If it wasn’t so sneaky, I’d admire the cunning! Aww heck, I admire it anyway. They hint that it’s a good idea to get a moz account and mozbar so the reader can easily see Yell is a high domain authority website. They then say that backlinks from high domain authority websites are beneficial. What they fail to mention is that Yell gives no-follow backlinks which are as useful as a 12 year out of date sandwich that has never known the soothing cold embrace of a fridge. But it’s a great way to persuade a business owner to go after the backlink by adding their website to a business profile on Yell.
They go on to say: To make sure review sites work well for your business, make sure you encourage your customers to leave you lots of great reviews. In doing this, the person using Yell for business is given a direction to send people to Yell to review them, each reviewer coming onto Yell shows up as analytics on their page, allowing Yell to ‘prove’ they had people looking at the business profile and helping increase their dodgy analytics. One of the reasons Yell gets so many hits is people being asked to leave reviews! Well played guys. Well played.
When people go onto Moz, and look through their backlinks, they will notice Yell is not among them. This is because Yell’s backlink isn’t beneficial due to being a no-follow link. But if you put Yell’s review code in your site, that’ll help them to rank as they set it up as a do-follow link. How kind! (And disgustingly exploitative!) – You may notice if Yell built your website that you have a Yell review link already on your website. Yeah, that means your customers may be helping Yell get those visitors.
They also mention that with a Yell Profile, you can appear higher in results than your site if it’s not ranking, which means they are competing for your business and getting clicks in place of you. If they built a Wix website for you, well, I mentioned Wix earlier. They have a smaller chance of ranking than most other website builders. In my videos, I have shown examples of where Yell can rank higher than its customers, therefore stealing their visitors – people looking for a specific business online are looking for that business – not a business directory.
Later in the blog, they question the value of social media backlinks. These are no-follow, however if traffic goes through them regularly and Google is aware of this because of its crawlers, then they are beneficial, as they help show you are making valuable content. I trust Neil Patel and Matt Diggety over a clueless content writer from Yell any day. You want to rank on Google, follow their advice. They’re monsters in the field.
In How to Ramp Up Social Media for Your Business, they recommend you hire a dedicated social executive. For a small business owner this is bad advice. It’s not hard to run your own social media and having a social media person dedicated to your business can become very costly. It’s much easier to make a goal of posting three times per week to your account. Set aside one hour a week and you should have great content by the end of it, and with the correct tool you can send it out to all your platforms. No need to hire anyone, especially not someone remote. They will never understand your business like you do and you’ll get cat pictures and memes, and that’s not what your business is about.
If you get a dedicated posting tool, ContentStudio (Insert shameful affiliate link here) is my personal favourite. Things will become easier when you can manage your social accounts from one platform. Buffer and Hootsuite are also decent (and FREE) options. You can easily schedule posts so you can set up weeks or months in advance. With ContentStudio you can also handle reputation management both on the desktop and app variants and set up post rotations so you can focus on running your business.
ContentStudio is a great tool for posting to social media, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Occasionally they offer lifetime accounts for a one off payment so it’s worth looking out for, this tends to happen around Black Friday and several major holidays per year. A dedicated social media control tool, Canva – a free design program, and knowing how your business operates are all you need to run social media like the best of them.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some good content there, but there are subtle upsells flung in for good measure. Ultimately Yell’s advice should be taken with a pinch of salt because some of it looks like it was AI written, and AI’s don’t always provide the best answers, even if there are some good ones. Read a couple of the blogs on Yell’s website and you’ll see what I mean!
Yell in the Media
In 2019, Matt Oliver wrote a report for this is money in which he documented that Yell Limited had been involved in aggressively selling to small businesses. In the report, I noticed that he mentioned that Yell was not pushing priority to their paid services which would ensure a company was ranked higher than others for certain keywords. This was three years ago.
One of the people I spoke to initially who owned a Pet Supplies business which shipped supplies throughout the UK, had expressed her confusion as to why they had specifically targeted Ilford for Yell’s local business profile (where her operation was based.) She had been mis-sold her contract, but not only this, when I looked under the keywords she was supposed to appear under, her company was not being promoted by Yell, so they were breaching their contract. (I recorded this for her so she has evidence should it ever be needed that Yell had NOT provided the service claimed.)
Matt Oliver’s article also talks about Yell’s sales practices and tells the story of Laura Templeton who was sold reputation management services and online advertising. Considering her business was to make board games to aid with dementia, and that at the time, the only thing she would really have to manage would have been Facebook reviews, this would have been a worthless service. (Twitter is not effective marketing for most small business models.) Online advertising is a decent use of budget, however Yell have a habit of supplying poor quality digital advertising. Laura was also sold Web Design services, despite Yell not being able to carry out what they promised, most likely because her website was not built on Wix.
Another article from 2019, this time in The Times, Yell was outed for providing fake reviews. When someone writes a review online, this is supposed to be for a real experience. (This is probably why Yell doesn’t have a reviews section on its Facebook page, where they advertise most.) When a Yell employee goes and leaves a fake review for a business which has never had the employee visit, despite the fact that it can ‘look good’ for the business, this is a deceptive business practice, and reprehensible. New legislation since this information came out
The Times also published an article the same month highlighting the experiences of clients at the hands of Yell’s digital marketing ‘experts’. The article goes into a little detail on the SEO services Yell sold. Thankfully Yell appears to have stopped providing these kinds of services, (which as mentioned earlier are hugely crippled by their use of Wix for web design,) after a thorough ass kicking by Danny Richman, who, unlike the team at Yell Limited, is highly experienced at SEO.
The Barrhead News, a local news website to Barrhead in Scotland reported on Yell exploiting a languages teacher. Lynne was locked into her contract with Yell which yielded no valid return on investment, and caused her significant financial losses. An early day motion was launched as a result.
Who is Danny Richman?
Danny Richman is an SEO expert and digital marketer. Yell have previously accused Danny of being a competitor in the marketing business, and stated that his claims of their malpractice are unsubstantiated. As Danny provides similar services to me, he’s also a competitor of mine – and considering I can sit back and analyse his work in the same way I’ve analysed the entity once known as Yellow Pages, I can definitely vouch that he not only knows his stuff, but that he is one of the best SEO people I’ve come across in the UK, so his words on the topic are golden advice when it comes to avoiding their services and their immoral contracts.
Yell have stated in the Daily Mail article that Danny’s appraisal of their website and services is unsubstantiated, but considering I have done a thorough analysis in much the same way and both I and Danny have separately investigated, recorded and proven some of the tactics used by Yell. I think it’s safe to say that our investigations have proven undoubtedly that Yell cannot be trusted, as things like their utilisation of UTM codes to manipulate analytics is a conscious addition to a URL, which shows a knowledge of analytics and a knowledge of how to exploit them for personal gain.
Danny Richman runs SEO Training London, where he provides training in SEO services. If you’re a business owner looking to improve your SEO, I highly recommend Danny’s blog, which is full of useful advice. Unlike Yell’s which has some occasional terrible advice, writing that looks like cheap AI at points – and of course the occasional upsell.
Both I and Danny are going bald, and both of us hate what Yell Limited has done to their customers. I’ve only talked to him once online but he’s a straight shooter, and he’s dedicated a LOT of his time to helping people deal with the horrendous services they have been provided by Yell.
Here are all of Danny’s articles on Yell, many of them feature other evidence I have not covered.
And last but not least, My favourite: Yell’s Business Review: SEO, the blog that probably killed Yell’s ability to claim they run an SEO service for good. Whilst there is little evidence supporting this online, shortly after this blog was released detailing the total malpractice and poor handling of SEO services, Yell ran off, tail between its legs and removed their crappy SEO services from their main website. Though they can still be found online, Yell salespeople no longer try to sell these services, as I’ve talked with them and asked about them. A great victory for any business that was dragged into a £26,000.00 contract for a worthless service.
Thanks, you beautiful balding legend!
What Makes Yell’s Smart Websites Smart?
Yell’s Websites are ‘Smart’ because they feature a search function and live chat. Both which can be easily added to most websites. Yell’s websites are dumb because they’re designed on Wix which means the chances of being able to be found under anything other than your business name is astronomical.
Are Yell a Good Company For Advertising?
Yell have a history of providing advertising services, however their results have proven to be inferior to running your own basic adverts in the majority of cases. There are many ways to effectively run both Google and Facebook ads without having to hire them.
Should I Pay Yell to Rank Higher on their Directory?
Yell’s online Business Directory does feature a large number of companies, considering the number of pages on their site divided by the number of visits they get each month, it is unlikely you will benefit from paying for this service.
how do i get out of my yell contract?
I’m a social media marketing specialist based in Wivenhoe, the CEO of Fantasoft and wannabe space adventurer.