It’s been fairly common news for a while now that the age old Yell.com offer web design services, or “Yellsites” as some have coined it. There’s been a lot written about this fact, with some people citing lots of reasons why Yell websites are evil. There also a fairly in depth post that goes on to actually explain why the author dislikes yell.com websites over here. Additionally, there is also a big pool of annoyed people over at the infamous reviewcentre.
Personally, I think their sites will never set the world on fire, but at the end of the day Yell are tapping into a certain and very specific niche where the majority of their clients are very small businesses. It’s truly a case of you get what you pay for (even if a Yell.com website will cost you more overtime, which is what I assume is key Yell’s business model). For me, it’s great really, as seem to have lots of clients who currently have a Yell site, realise their site isn’t performing for them and want to move on – in I (or any other web person) step. Yell are clearly going down the bulk route with their sites being mass produced and based upon templates – at the end of the day they aren’t charging bespoke prices (in the short term anyway). I say fair play to them if they want to go down that route. This post isn’t in any way intended to knock Yell.com websites in the least. Although I’m not a fan of their apparent sales patter I keep hearing about where Yellsites say they have a special partnership with Google” or the “Did you know Yell.com is the most searched UK website” – for the record, both of those statements are frankly lies and total rubbish.
Yell Websites & Template Reuse
So, quickly onto the point of this post! As a web person I can easily spot a template based site a mile off. From the images used, to the source of the site, all the way through to general feel of the site – as a web person, “I can just tell”. A none “webby” person would have difficulty doing this. When I get potential clients who have a Yell.com website (which happens fairly regularly lately for some reason) the term “template recycling” always gets mentioned, after of course the importance of good design, usability and how you essentially get what you pay for. The more Yell.com sites I see, the more evident it is that the Yell.com web designers use templates and they reuse these templates across multiple sites – after minor changes to things like the layout and colors. Today, a potential client agreed with me on this matter and did more so after getting into the subject of CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization (money talks sometimes)
Now, today I was talking to a client and they went one stage further when we came onto this subject. The client asked me to show them some examples of Yell.com websites reusing templates – as they quite rightly said I could be using it as sales pitch (which I wasn’t, but they do ask a valid question nonetheless). So under pressure I came up with a quite good solution (I think it is anyway) to demonstrate to anyone that you don’t get a unique website with Yell.
“Web Design by Yell”
Simply jump onto Google and search for the following where [xxx] is your particular niche. For example, searching for “web design by yell estate agents” would bring up some websites that Yell.com have built. You’ll sometimes need to scroll down through some Yell.com directory pages, but you’ll almost always get some sites. This works because Yell place the same credit link (well it should read links because Yell shadily add 2 anchor rich back links) in the footer of every site they do – there is no variation at present.
So, in my case I did exactly this for the potentials client’s niche. I showed my client 12 different websites, all within his niche that used the same stock images and design – bar of course, a few minor colour changes. I also noticed patterns within the text Yell used on these various sites. Within the particular query I made, a lot of the copy was strikingly similar across the sites. Without a lot of research I couldn’t say for sure, but it seems like Yell were recycling the content between sites too. This fact would follow, as my client said they were slightly annoyed with Yell for using content from one of their competitor sites. I did get lucky here, as one of the competitor Yell.com sites I found was located 20 miles away from my client and was a known competitor – the client was obviously amazed when I showed them the literally the same template was used for both sites. Insane – Yell.com created a website for two geographically close businesses, who are both competitors within the same niche and decided to use the same website template and very similar copy.
Off topic, I then went onto to complete my normal check of where the site was hosted geographically. My clients Yell.com site was not hosted in the UK, where they do 100% of their business, og no. There site was hosted alongside ~40,000 other websites, on a shared server in Santa Monica, California, USA – right on the West Coast of the USA and roughly 5,400 miles from my clients business. Bless.
Also, this post is subject to the standard post disclaimer as the content written above, represents my own, personal opinions and not that of any company I current, have or will work for.