SuperMedia, YellowPages, Yellowbook (Hibu) Websites

smybCompanies like SuperMedia, Yellowbook (now Hibu), YellowPages, and Yext offer online marketing services such as business listings and directories, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, and websites. If set up properly, these online marketing methods do work and can definitely get your business noticed. The problem that most of my clients who have dealt with these companies, and many subscribers online (based on the many complaints I’ve read) have found with these companies is not the service they offer but the way these services are carried out.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

These are large, national and international companies, most of which utilize subcontractors and outsource their work overseas. You’re given one toll-free number to call when you have questions about your account, billing inquiries, technical issues, changes to your website, etc. You could end up spending the better part of your morning explaining your question to 6 different people before you get a resolution. But at that point you’re so frazzled that you let it go, and the issue or change you wanted to make never gets resolved.

Bait and Switch

These companies employ first rate salespeople. In general, they are polite, friendly, knowledgeable, and will promise you the world. Just sign here. Now. They may neglect to mention little details like the fact that you’ll be locked in to a contract that you’ll need to cancel in writing at least 30 days prior. They may forget to tell you that if you transfer your domain name to them (which is not necessary, by the way, and is a major red flag – read my blog about domain theft here), they will legally own that domain and you may never get it back. And the most important thing they forget to tell you is that once you sign the dotted line, your salesperson is generally done with you. If you need help in the future, you need to call their 800 number. Your salesperson may take longer and longer to get back to you, until all of your calls to him go unanswered. And why not? He’s already made his commission from what he sold you.

The Bundle

That “free” website they built for you is not truly free. If it’s part of a bundle that includes online listings and phone book ads, you’re paying for it one way or another. If your monthly fee is $300, then $50 to $100 could be going to your website. You may think $50 a month is not much for a website, but $600 a year is too much for a site of that quality, especially one that you’re only “renting”. The cost of having a website should involve only the domain name (around $20 per year) and web hosting ($7 or $8 per month); more than that and you’re throwing your money away.

The Website

Have you seen your new SuperMedia/Yellowbook (Hibu) website? Doesn’t it look remarkably like every other SuperMedia/ Yellowbook website you’ve seen? You haven’t seen those other sites? Here’s a nifty way to search for other websites created by these companies:
– For YellowBook sites, Google the following:   Yellow Book USA, Inc. All Rights Reserved
– For Hibu sites, Google the following:   “hibu USA, Inc. All Rights Reserved” (in quotes)
– For SuperMedia sites, Google the following:   Powered by SuperMedia, LLC

Websites are secondary to these companies. They make their revenue from other forms of advertising, and they throw in a website to make you feel like you’re getting a bargain. But their websites are nothing more than mass produced templates, with clip art that is used for every other company in your industry. The coding does not adhere to proper standards, which means your site could be ignored by search engines. You cannot expand or customize the site without paying a higher monthly fee. And the site just looks… bad. It’s not interesting or engaging, and it looks like something designed by someone who doesn’t know how to design a website. The most important thing to remember, however, is that once you stop paying, they will remove your site and keep your domain name (these companies are notorious for domain theft… read more here).

SUMMARY

If you want a website, hire a web design firm, one that focuses first and foremost on building websites. A local company is often a better fit for a small businesses, as you can generally meet the person who will be building your site. Make sure they have their own website, with samples of work they have done. Be sure to visit the sites they claim to have designed, and check at the bottom of the page for a link back to their own site or something that says they designed it. If you decide to go with this company, read over the contract carefully and make sure you are not locked into a monthly or annual subscription. The design of your website should be a one-time fee, or may be paid over a series of installments. If you want your designer to make changes after the site is published, opt for a month-to-month plan, or even a “per change” or hourly plan.

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