Monday, September 10, 2007

Google's Local Business Center a Serious Threat to Existing Online Yellow Pages Directories

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If you click on the "Business Solutions" link on Google's homepage, you'll find information about the various revenue generating programs, advertising opportunities and productivity tools that Google offers to the general public. You will also find two separate text links to Google's Local Business Center displayed under the headings "Get listed on Google Maps" and "Put your information on Google".

And although Google's Local Business Center isn't billed as an online yellow pages directory, that's exactly what it is. Google now allows local business owners to add their business name, address, phone number, email address, website URL and business description to its business database. This information is then displayed, at no charge, on Google Maps, and more recently, Google's web search results.

As you may or may not have noticed, when you enter a business name, city and state into Google's web search form, the first thing displayed on the results page is a map with business listings from Google's database and links to more information. If you enter a keyword, along with a city and state, the first thing that appears in the results is a link entitled, "Local business results".

This free service could spell big trouble for competitors in the online yellow pages industry. Google's Local Business Center offers all of the business information that conventional Internet yellow pages sites do, and then some. In addition to business descriptions, hours of operation, online coupons, photos, maps, driving directions, and even business reviews, Google offers Internet users something that other online yellow pages can't – the convenience of searching for both yellow pages and web search results from a single form.

Add to that, the fact that Google's business data will likely be more complete, more trustworthy and more up-to-date than its competitors because it's published by the business owners themselves, and you've got a recipe for complete dominance of the Internet yellow pages industry. Current industry leaders like, SuperPages and Switchboard will have to adapt quickly to their new competitor, or we may soon be closing the book on their online yellow pages directories.

About The Author

Erik M. Cunningham is an author, researcher and the founder of the YPdx Yellow Pages ( ) and has been working in the online yellow pages industry since 2002.

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