(Note: this article was originally written as a contributed post in a travel agent forum site on Sept. 8, 2010 at 9 pm. The page is not being indexed on search, so nobody really have access to it but the members. So, I figured, I better put this up on my page for everyone. Hope you like it.)

This morning, I got a call from a Yellow Pages representative and told me that my site was not being found in the search engines.

I asked him – what search engine are you using? YellowPages.ca, he responded.

I asked him how many people are using the Yellow Pages search. He said millions. I told him – have you heard of Google, Yahoo or MSN? He said – of course! And I said, that’s where you will find my site and not in the Yellow Pages.

I added, hundreds of millions if not billions are using those search engines all around the world because people know that their results are more reliable than yours. Yellowpages.ca is only good for local searches. But even if a customer is searching for a local travel agency, I betcha non of the businesses appearing in the top 10 of YellowPages will show up in the top 10 of Google or Bing. Specially in the maps.

He said, let see.

So I went to Yellowpages.ca and typed in [Location] travel agency. Then we went to Google and then typed in the same search keywords. Dyaraan! None of them showing in even the top 20 of Yellowpages appeared on the first page of Google. Even on Google maps.

I said, now let’s try Bing. Another surprise. Only the number 11 agency in Yellowpages appeared in the organic listing of Bing and this is a rather large travel agency with its own marketing department.

I told him – now that Bing and Google are showing maps of travel agencies in their search results, the more consumers will choose to use them instead of the Yellowpages search engine, which I doubt anyone uses to find where they want to make a travel purchase.

I told him the only reason you’re getting people to sign up to you even if they would really benefit from you is because you only cost $35/month for the listing which if you compare to the cost of appearing in the organic or maps result of the big search engines is just a drop in a bucket.

How so, he asked.

I said, well to appear in the organic or map results of Google and Bing, a monthly budget of $35 is not enough. It will take painstaking promotion, after promotion and backlinks after backlinks to the site not including the fact that sites need to be optimized internally first before those backlinking and promotion become effective.

And that costs a lot of money. And I have not included the time it will take to get to that first page.

But, your site is nowhere in those results you’re talking about – he responded.

I answered – right now, my site is number 11 for organic and number 98 in the maps. But I’m working to get to first page of both Google and Bing. I’m on second page now and I believe in a month or two of continous web marketing, I’ll get to where I wanted to be. Just take a look at how many web pages are competing for that very competitive keywords – 18 million for Bing and 500 thousand for Google.

And he said but you have to be in all the search engines and that includes in the Yellow pages!

I said – No, I don’t get my customers from Yellow pages anymore. I added, I even stopped advertising on the local newspaper because, if you don’t know it yet – people use the internet to search now more than they would try using the classified ads. That includes the Yellow pages book.

Finally, realizing that he will not be able to sell his pitch to me – just thanked me for my time and hung up.

I pity the guy, you know. I want to give him my business even if I don’t need it but first, he has to convince me that I really need their services and that our business will benefit from it. We are also in an industry of selling our services but in our case, the customers are the ones initiating the call because they know that we can provide the services they need.

It’s a case of what my wife’s grandma use to tell me – “If you’re the one who went to look for something to buy, surely you will spend money. But if the product is the one which seek you, it will have a hard time making you part with your money.” I don’t know if there’s a correct saying for that, I just remember that spoken to me frequently by grandma.

In this instance, though, I don’t think our business will benefit from a Yellow page listing anymore because our experience over the years proved to us that the major search engines are the main source of customer for us.

I don’t know if this is true with every travel agent but I would really like to know if it’s still worth advertising in the Yellow pages.

What’s you’re experience?