The former Talking Phonebook has put a lot of marketing dollars into their latest identity, LocalEdge. I assume they moved away from having the word “phonebook” in their name because who uses a phonebook anymore? The new LocalEdge sales people make their rounds relying heavily on the words SEO and social media. They give free seminars about the subject, but these just end up being another sales pitch. See below from a local chamber newsletter:
MAY 11 -- Internet SEMINAR, --------- Restaurant, Route ----, Cuba, 5:30 - 7 PM. The seminar will feature guest speaker, Mark ---------, Google Adwords Certified Professional. Why do some websites rank higher than others? If I advertise online, how will I know it's working? Where are today's consumers finding my services? Seminar will also be held June 1 and July 20. Space is limited for this free seminar, so please email --------@localedge.com or call 716-376-----.
Before I go on, I do want to mention that LocalEdge is owned by Hearst Communications. It was announced this month that Hearst would acquire iCrossing, one of the largest search marketing companies that exists. I also want to note that LocalEdge and iCrossing sharing the same owner, does not make LocalEdge an SEO firm. I highly doubt that the iCrossing talent will be providing services for LocalEdge.
I didn’t want to start knocking what LocalEdge was calling SEO without first looking into it. After all, I don’t mind competition, in fact I think it is necessary, but I am not a big fan of the way they mislead their customers. Let’s take a look at what I found when I reviewed their ‘SEO Package’.
What they are optimizing is your ‘ProAd’ that was already purchased through LocalEdge. From what I have seen, all of these ‘ProAds’ look exactly the same. The owner has the ability edit each section, with what appears to be with little guidance from LocalEdge. When you choose to edit service areas, you fill in a list, similar to a Google Places edit function. From there, the terms get populated onto your ProAd, which from the majority of listings I look at, look very spammy.
After purchasing the ProAd, you have the option to purchase an SEO package. I had access to a company’s account that had already purchased the package, so I was able to navigate around their system. From what I was able to find, you choose a few keywords that you want to optimize for, and they then place them in the Page Title and Meta Description. The options to edit your own elements or keywords were not able to be found anywhere in the interface, so to the best of my understanding these are auto-generated after you tell your rep which keywords you want to optimize for. It appears that if you do not purchase the SEO package, you do not have this ability to edit these areas, your Page Title and META description appear like this:
Page Title: (Business Name – Address) Find business listings, White Pages, Maps & Directions, consumer information, and more in The Talking Phone Book / Area Wide search directory.
Meta Desc: (Business Name – Address) Yellow Pages, online, Internet, directory, national, search, local business listings, phone book, local stores, maps, driving directions, White Pages, business phone number, consumer information, advertising, companies, products, services, addresses, find phone numbers, shopping, directory assistance, 411, consumer information, Consumer Guides, City Guides, local directories
I guess when you compare to the this, you should probably purchase the SEO package if you have a ProAd. My favorite is when other directories pull this information and use it to describe a business’ services. See below:
Why isn’t this ‘service’ SEO? Well, first and foremost, there is much more to SEO that changing a Page Title and Meta description, second, your listing in the organic results still show “www.localedge.com/…” as the URL, third, there is a search box at the top of every page on your ProAd that allows a user to easily leave yours even if they do find you through organic search. It is insulting to SEO professionals that put time and care into their work to call something that can be done in less than 30 minutes SEO. Not only that, it gives small business owners a bad taste in their mouth for SEO if they purchase this and get the results I expect they are getting.
So do they do anything right? Well, they use <divs>, <h1> and <h2> headers, for the most part the pages are content heavy, whether or not it is good content is up to the business owner, and they give businesses that have no web presence at least something.
The package you purchase will also give you access to SEO Tracker, which gives you an idea of average search engine ranking for Google, Bing and Yahoo for the terms that you chose. What they are reporting appears to be accurate compared to what I was finding through other ranking programs and my own searches.
In conclusion, I do not want to knock the services provided by LocalEdge, I just don’t think they should be calling it SEO. Call it what it is, an enhanced online phonebook listing. Some businesses will find the services beneficial, fruitful, and maybe even perfect for their situation, but again, my biggest concern is that they call these services SEO. Maybe I am off track here and businesses are getting great results from the packages they are purchasing, if so I gladly welcome your feedback.