Why Not To Use Yell Image

Why Not To Use Yell Advertising

Now I’m not usually one to shout out and cause issues regarding the service of another business. But what I can’t allow to happen is small businesses being robbed of their hard earned cash while trying to make a better living for themselves, by a company that just doesn’t care. They simply want your money.

Yell.com offer a range of marketing related services to small / medium sized businesses. Here is a little breakdown just so you understand:

Google Ads/Adwords – These are the ads you see at the top of Google search results. They can work wonders for small businesses and most marketing agencies will offer a PPC service, so you don’t have to get Yell to manage it.

Yell sponsored listings These are listings that show at the top of Yell search results. They let the free listings sit and the bottom while all of the sponsored listings sit and the top. They can work ok, but they tend to be very expensive.

Website design – We have taken on one or two new customers in the past who have had sites built with Yell. Their feedback suggested that they always wanted money to make changes and that the platform to manage the website was not very good.


True Story

We have recently taken on a new client who is an owner of a small roofing company in Birmingham. This business had been using Yell for their online advertising for a total of £600 per month on a 12-month contract.

What Yell doesn’t explain to you as a customer, is how they divvy up that £600:

£500 – Yell sponsored listing & Google Adwords (PPC) management
£100 – Google Adwords budget

So for any of you’s that have never done PPC before, a £100 monthly budget is simply not enough. Not only that, but Yell had also set it up so the ads would show for all sorts of irrelevant searches. Here are some examples

“Roofer training courses”
“Roofing jobs“
“Roofer got shot in the corner shop”
“Roofer should not have chosen Yell”

When you have a £100 a month budget (£3 a day) and some clicks are costing up to £2.10, your daily budget could very quickly vanish in one or two wasted clicks by people searching for jobs, training courses or anything else that is completely irrelevant.
All in all, it was awfully setup and truly wasted the money of the business owner. So what did Yell say when he called up to complain that he wasn’t getting enough calls…’Give us more money’.


The Figures

Six months with Yell:

Over the final six months of his time with Yell, their marketing had generated millions of impressions, just over 1000 clicks and around 30 phone calls (around one per week).

£600 x 6 months = £3600
£3600 ÷ 30 (calls) = 120
£120 for each phone call

One month with Bowler Hat:

We took the client on for a £100 management fee and started from scratch with the campaign. Within an hour or two, his campaign was up and running (correctly this time) and below are the results from his first month with us.

£100 management fee + £132 spent in Adwords = £232
£232 ÷ 23 enquiries = 10
£10 per enquiry

So as you can see, one month at Bowler Hat has generated nearly just as many enquiries as Yell did in 6 months. And all for £3368 less. We have continued to optimise the account and the client is now spending around £6 per enquiry, £114 less than what it cost with Yell.


Our Simple Solution

Well, I don’t think you’ll need me to tell you after the above, but simply ditch Yell.com. It’s still good to be listed on their free directory, but don’t bother paying for the sponsored listing or for Adwords. Then with the £600 that Yell usually charge, have a think about how you should best spend it. Here are some ideas:

Spend £300 on an AdWords campaign and save £300
Spend £600 on an AdWords campaign and really go at it
Spend £300 with an agency for SEO & PPC and put £300 into AdWords clicks

I have an obvious bias towards #3, as a marketing agency can help you set-up and manage your AdWords PPC professionally to get the best results. They can then also look at organic SEO, local SEO, conversion optimisation, and reputation signals like reviews to ensure you are getting the best possible return on your spend.

#3 really is the perfect combination for a small business. Not only will your ads show at the top of Google, but your agency can then gradually work on your SEO. With the goal that you will be dominating the search results in 3-6 months.


Half Your Spend, Double Your Results

There is another option. Here at Bowler Hat, we offer a range of small business packages for PPC, SEO, Social Media and Web Design. Our PPC management starts from £100 per month and our small business SEO packages start from £150 per month.

Ultimately, we hate to see small businesses being stung by companies like Yell. Trying to find affordable and quality marketing for a small business can be extremely difficult, but that’s where we like to help.

If you currently use Yell to manage your advertising or are considering using them in the future, feel free to give us a call or send us an email and we will be more than happy to give you some advice and see how we can reduce your costs and improve your results.

Ryan Scollon

Ryan is our SEO & PPC Consultant. He’s a team leader and wants to lead the team to greatness, but will more likely have to settle for slightly-above-average-ness. He’s a Google Partner, which means he understands Google more than he even knows himself. Ryan also has his own SEO & Marketing blog, free to check it out.

  • Laura
    Posted at 23:18h, 19 August Reply

    I agree with everything in this post… except this is the internet, and I have to find one thing to moan about 😉

    A Google Partner is a company that has over $10k in ad word billings over 90 days – that doesn’t mean that a smaller agency (or startup) lacks the certification and wouldn’t do just as well as the big boys. You might even find they work harder as they’ve got more to prove.

    • Ryan Scollon
      Posted at 08:20h, 23 August Reply

      Yep, totally agree! The certification simply helps that little extra to make sure you are choosing someone who knows what they are doing.

  • Michael
    Posted at 17:20h, 23 August Reply

    Yell are Googles longest standing Premier Partner in the UK, your statement to not use Yell and use a Google partner now becomes redundant. What information do you have to back up claims of what keywords Yell use to bring in business for people?

    • Ryan Scollon
      Posted at 08:15h, 24 August Reply

      Hey Micheal,

      The proof is in the pudding. Many people come away unhappy with their experience with Yell, but most of them blame AdWords instead of Yell. Adwords is a super powerful tool if used well. Unfortunately, many of these small businesses don’t feel the same way. If you have a look around, there are tonnes of articles and threads of people who are unhappy with the service they have received from Yell.

  • MS
    Posted at 14:47h, 24 October Reply

    This is very true, we are in a nightmare situation with yell, they sold us on the premise they are “experts” in generating high value leads on google adwords. Since we signed up, we have seen a massive drop in business while paying MORE for our adwords marketing. Now we are locked in a contract and the option we may have to take is to pay off yell and then invest more money on top into our own adwords campaign which we successfully ran before signing up with yell. Esentially we will have to pay off yell’s contract and then resume our adwords campaign.

    Issues with yell:
    – Less specific targeting, paying more Cost Per Click than the campaign we started with the help from google support over the phone
    – Less traffic and clicks
    – Yell take 33% of your budget for their “management fees” – the 67% left is spent very ineffectively
    – No interest in your business after you have signed the contract and takes days and days to resolve issues.
    – When issues arise, you can’t fix them directly as you can when you control your own AdWords campaign.

    As a small business this may well be enough to end us, where we saw a steady growth before signing up to yell, now it’s gone back to the level of enquiries we had 2 years ago meanwhile we have higher business costs.

    This may be a very bad experiance compared so some others, because we do not sell generic products, Yet i highly doubt their AdWords services will be better than what you can do spending a couple of hours reading up, a few youtube videos and a convocation with AdWords google team to understand how it all works.

    I really hope someone reads this and takes the warning what we did not manage to get ourselves before signing the contract. This is literally killing our business amd the only way for us to get out of it is to pay off the contract while resuming the usual marketing spend on our own adwords account.

    • Ryan Scollon
      Posted at 15:10h, 24 October Reply


      Really sorry to hear of your bad experience with Yell. It’s disgusting that they can do this sort of thing to small businesses. As you know, it’s impossible to get out of their contract, but you might be able to do a few things to help in the meantime. If you give the office a call and ask for Ryan Scollon, I can talk you through it.

  • Richard c
    Posted at 08:43h, 07 November Reply

    I’ve sat a read the post…and now I’ve went from disappointed to utterly annoyed at yell…I’ve just takin on a yell ad and found myself in wrong listing point and have had one call in 3 weeks ..yes it paid the ad and fuel for job but that’s no use at all…i need at least 4x a day to be working …am I in the deep end here??? Do I switch and if so to who and then cost…am just starting out and money is tight so we’re do I go here

    HELP !!!!!

    • Ryan Scollon
      Posted at 09:21h, 07 November Reply

      Hey Richard,

      I’m sorry to hear that you are not having a great experience with Yell. I’ll ping you an email now and see if we can help.

  • Ute Eden
    Posted at 12:03h, 17 January Reply

    BE VERY WEARY WITH YELL!!!! I’ve been ‘badly stung’ by Yell as I was lured into agreeing to advertising via a 2 1/2 hour phone-call from their @advertising dogs@. Initially I told them that I did not need or want any more Yell than I already have (app. £200 a year). The advertising agent got talking how important my business is, and showed me figures on my PC screen…. Long story short, he got me to sign up online for stuff I didn’t need, without disclosing that the figures are now on a monthly rolling basis…. summing up to £1200 a year… which is almost a months salary (being a Sole Trader). And of course the several small contracts are all 12 months binding.

    I have tried everything! Citizen Advice confirmed I have no rights in terms of cancelling, There is no cooling off period and no 14 day statutory rights for business owners. I am still waiting on the promised phone call from Trading Standards, where I have to proof that they did wrong. This is absolute appalling and gut wrenching, and I guess that’s what Yell is banking on – an opportunistic extortionist. If you ask me that is the worst business practice I have come across in 20 years. Shame on Yell. I’m out and gone as soon as I am able, to never turn back.

    So yes, there are many other ways to advertise!

    • Ryan Scollon
      Posted at 12:31h, 17 January Reply


      Thanks for sharing your experience, I am sorry to hear that you have been yet another victim of Yell’s horrible tactics to win new business. If you do need any advice on marketing, feel free to give us a shout and we will be more than happy to help.

  • Jon Anderson
    Posted at 00:11h, 28 January Reply

    I’m glad I found your post Ryan, because I work for Yell and I will passing on this URL to our legal dept. Why? Because you have made false claims and all you are doing is trying promote your company by lying about Yell. And before you reply saying ‘Well he works for Yell, what would you expect’, I KNOW for a fact what you have said are lies. Yell does NOT take £400 out of a £500 PPC budget for fees. YOU are the one people need to be wary of, not Yell. Isn’t the Internet great? You can spread whatever you want without having to back it up with facts.

    To everyone else complaining on here, try calling our CS team. If the complaint is valid it will be looked into.

    • Jon Anderson
      Posted at 00:25h, 28 January Reply

      I also meant to add, Yell do not charge to make changes to our websites. This is another lie. Plus the sponsored listing costs vary depending on multiple criteria. And of course our products work. However can you explain tenure badges of customers on Yell.com stating they have been with Yell 15 years+? How long have you been in business?

      • Marcus Miller
        Posted at 11:54h, 30 January Reply

        Hey Jon. As detailed in the previous comments these are reports passed to us by unhappy Yell customers. We are happy to reveal our sources here.

        What we have found since writing this is that in many cases a customer does not own the website that Yell builds for them. It is not portable. It is a way of locking people into Yell. And not terribly affordable in the first instance. Again, we have sources here and would be happy to share them with your legal team.

        Bowler Hat

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 11:52h, 30 January Reply

      Hey John. Thanks for your comment. Ultimately, we are just reporting the facts as we see them. And we are happy to name our sources here as they came to us upset with what was happening over at Yell. Let me just apply some clarification to the points above.

      £400/£500 – the point was not that Yell took £400 from the £500 for fees but rather this was the money spent on a sponsored Yell listing as apposed to the PPC budget with AdWords. The client was spending a lot of money and not getting results from the sponsored listings.

      We have also reviewed many AdWords PPC accounts created by Yell and they are pretty absymal. A single advert. Broad match keywords. No negatives. Really awful. And unfortunately, sponsored listings on Yell don’t work great for every customer. No marketing does. But the combination of yearly contracts and poor service when it comes to your advertising products seems to rub a lot of people up the wrong way or we would not get so many phonecalls with customers complaining about your business practices.

      Unfortunately, this whole post came about due to the number of calls we get from businesses who are unhappy with Yell. We are not making this up, rather we are reporting the facts as they are relayed to us.

      We are not doing anything here other than relaying the facts. If your legal team want to get in touch please direct them to the contact form and we will be happy to talk to them. Likewise, we will be happy to contact our sources and see if they are happy to be named here.

      Bowler Hat

  • Jon Anderson
    Posted at 12:22h, 28 January Reply

    What a surprise, my comments didn’t get posted. So you can dish it out, but when it comes to someone pointing out YOUR lies and deceit, seems you aren’t so happy. As I said, tomorrow I WILL be passing this web link to our legal team along with your businesses URL.

    • Marcus Miller
      Posted at 12:01h, 30 January Reply

      Hey Jon

      We are a small business and as such review comments every few days or so – apologies if you were waiting for a response. Certainly, we have nothing to hide here and are not the ones making threats. In fact, this aggressive and threatening attitude only serves to confirm what we hear every day from upset Yell customers who call us up.

      I really wish no harm to Yell and surely the best use of Yells resources here would be doing better work for your customers rather than throwing legal money at and trying to hurt another small business.

      For small businesses marketing money is often severely limited, and all marketing, be it Google AdWords, Yell Sponsored Listings or anything else needs to be reviewed to ensure it is a good fit. We have looked at many Yell PPC accounts and they are truly not set up with best practices or the best interest of the business in mind. Maybe this is not representative of the whole but certainly, these issues are there in the cases we have been made aware of.

      Yell represents many small businesses so my sincere wish here would be that these comments are taken on board and used to improve the service for your small business customers in these somewhat difficult times.

      Take care!
      Bowler Hat

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