Reputation Manager is Yell’s flagship product and sold to most new customers. Yell claim that Reputation Manager will let you “take control of your business’s online reputation, reviews and social media all from a single dashboard”.
Yell further claim that, by doing so, Reputation Manager will “get you to the top of Google”. This article explores whether these claims are true.
Before we look at the service itself, it is worth exploring how Reputation Manager is sold by Yell’s sales agents.
In most cases, you will have heard about this product either because you registered a free listing for your business on Yell.com or received an unsolicited call from Yell when their agents first discovered your business.
Yell’s agent will have shown you an online tool which produces an “Online Reputation Report” for your business. After entering your business details, he will have shown you that your business has a “high error rating” negatively impacting your visibility on Google. They may even have told you that “Google is penalising your business”.
The agent may also have claimed that Yell is “Google’s longest-standing Premier Partner” and that Yell has a “special relationship with Google”.
He may have said that, “by using Yell’s Reputation Manager service, your business will be listed in hundreds of online directories which brings your error rating down to zero”.
He may claim that Reputation Manager will allow you to gain more online reviews and have those reviews “posted automatically across all major social networks and directories including Google and Facebook”. All of this, “Will get your website on to the front page of Google”. He may have also shown you examples of other businesses who have used their service and who are now ranking on the first page of Google.
The cost of Reputation Manager is approximately £50 per month although this is often discounted if you buy other Yell services.
All of these claims will appear highly convincing. Coupled with the high-pressure sales techniques and assurances given by the agent, this all makes it very difficult to refuse their offer.
How do I know this? Because I have listened to dozens of recordings of these calls sent to me by other Yell customers. I have also experienced these calls myself while posing as a small business owner to Yell’s agents.
Let’s break down each claim one-by-one and look at the evidence:
Yell is not Google’s longest-standing Premier Partner. This is a false statement which Yell have now confirmed. Yell’s partnership status with Google relates to Google advertising services only. This provides Yell with no relationship that could, in any way, improve your site’s visibility on Google. To state or imply otherwise is simply misleading. Google have recently changed their Partnership program and Yell may soon lose its status as a Google Partner.
The tool used by Yell’s agent is freely available for anyone to use online. Take a look at some of the reports it has produced for Selfridges, Amazon and for Yell themselves:
Yell’s error rating of 95% for Selfridges (1m Google visitors per month)
Yell’s error rating of 100% for Amazon UK (106m Google visitors per month)
Yell’s error rating of 100% for their own company!
Any claim that this tool indicates how Google views a business is simply untrue. This is the first of many lies the agent will tell you.
When asked whether submitting a website to online directories would help SEO, John Muller (Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst) replied, “Just because a company name is mentioned somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good or bad for the company. I’d see those mentions more as advertising. If you think people are going to see it and explicitly search out your business, then that’s great.”
Leading local SEO expert, Greg Gifford said, “Listing a business in online directories has no impact on a site’s organic visibility on Google.”
Take a look at this example of a business that used Yell’s Reputation Manager service. Their site now has 401 links from the online directories to which their site was submitted by Yell:
The site receives a total of two visitors from Google per month, both from people searching for the business by name.
From my own analysis of 6,000 websites with directory links, the average volume of monthly Google traffic was just one single visitor. For sites with 40 or more directory links, the average monthly Google traffic was a whopping two visitors.
On September 23rd 2021, a question was posted on Twitter by Murari Lal asking whether submitting a business to online directories is given any weight by Google.
Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, replied “Those are generally seen as artificial links and considered against the webmaster guidelines. In effect, Yell’s Reputation Manager could be harming your website rathe than helping it.
Yell’s claim that listing your business in hundreds of directories will improve your site’s visibility on Google is simply untrue.
The only reviews posted on Google and Facebook are those posted directly on those sites by their own users. Reviews posted to Yell.com and not posted (automatically or otherwise) to either of these platforms.
What the agent will not have informed you is that once you tick the box to order the Reputation Manager service, you are then locked into a 12-month rolling contract with no cooling-off period. You will continue to pay for the service even if you gain no customers or see no improvement to your site’s visibility on Google.
The restrictive nature of this contract is buried deep within Yell’s Terms and Conditions which you will probably didn’t have a chance to read before placing your order.
Any attempt by you to take some time before committing to the order will be met with a warning from Yell’s agent that if you fail to sign up immediately, you will lose the “special discount” offered.
If at any stage, you decide to cancel the service, all of the directory listings for which you have paid will be removed by Yell’s system. These listings are offered for only as long as you keep paying for the service. This won’t matter, as they were never helping your business anyway.
Yell’s Reputation Manager will do nothing to improve the visibility of your business that you couldn’t easily do yourself.
Yell’s agents are making claims about the service which directly contradicts advice from Google and independent SEO experts.
If you are thinking about buying Yell’s Reputation Manager, my advice is to stay well clear.
If you have already bought Reputation Manager and are now locked into a 12 month contract, I believe you now have a strong case to get that contract cancelled and the money refunded.
There has now been a Early Day Motion tabled in Parliament calling for a full investigation into Yell’s practices.
In September 2020, A Group Action Legal claim was launched against Yell for misrepresentation and breach of contract.
If you wish to claim compensation and damages from Yell, please visit the Yell Action Group website.