Yell Websites and Template Recycling – A Review

yell web design reviewIt’s been fairly common news for a while now that the age old 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 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 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 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 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 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 sites I see, the more evident it is that the 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 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 have built. You’ll sometimes need to scroll down through some 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 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 – 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 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.

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Rob Allport

Web Developer based in Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire Google+ - Twitter

28 thoughts on “Yell Websites and Template Recycling – A Review”

  1. This is reply from someone who is none “www. savvy”, so please excuse my apparent ignorance.

    I fully take your point about the wording on websites being copied – I’ve just read a little about that on Google’s own website and it seems Google don’t like it very much at all! The one thing I don’t understand is the last point you make, about where a website is hosted in the world. Why would that matter to me? When I go onto a website I never notice the difference – as long as it displays I don’t care in all honesty. You also refer to a site being hosted alongside lots of other sites – can you explain a little more on this? How can you find all this private information out, I assume you have worked for Yell sites at some point?

  2. Hello,

    Just to confirm I don’t currently, or have ever worked for Yellsites 🙂

    With regards to the information about web hosting, I’ll expand a little on that for you. If you want to find out how many other sites are hosted alongside your own site, perform a reverse IP lookup – a quick Google of this term will alow you to enter in your own website address and get more information on the number of sites you have hosted alongside your own.

    For the location, you can again use free tools available on Google – so for the lcation where your site is physically hosted, try searching for “Domain to location” in Google – there are lots available.

    All this information isn’t private in the least.

    With regards to the egative reasons for a site being hosted outside the country where you do business, well that is a full topic alone.

    To you off, here is a video of Matt Cutts – a Google employee answering this ecaxt question. See and There’s also a pretty good explanation at

    Also, think of your users – a site hosted closer to your audience will load faster and seem a lot “snappier” to use – which is a good thing. It’s a well known fact that a ranking factot Google looks at is page load speed.

    1. In all honesty I’m not out to anger them, just to inform. I say fair play to them if they’ve found some sort of niche. Personally, for myself, who focuses on bespoke sites it’s all good. 🙂

  3. Ok, I’m a simple business owner and don’t know about all your web speak and really couldn’t care less. I’m searching for web reviews of Yellsites and all I find are these overly technical posts that I don’t understand at all from website designers – this site and 4 others similar sites like it appeared in Google when I’m just searching for site reviews. Why are reviews from normal business owners so hard to come by nowadays? I want some reviews from actual businesses as the bulk of reviews are on yells own site, which is great as they have some good reviews on there but I would like other opinions too.

    I would like to ask something else aswell. Why can;t you make your mind if you like yellsites or not? Sometimes you;re saying they’re good and then other times you say they aren’t so good. As I’m searching for reviews I want straight to the point views!

    The only useful thing I can take away from this wall of mumbo jumbo is the test to see if they use templates, that a good idea and I’ll try that. All the other things you;re talking about are lost on me.

  4. Thanks for your comment Sarah. This specific post is aimed mostly at “web people” – E.g those who work in the industry and will understand all that “mumbo jumbo” (although I have tried to keep it to a minimum). I’d also urge you to look at the header of this site too 😉

    With regards to me being indecisive, well I’m not technically here to provide a hard review – I’m simply sharing a technique I discovered to
    identify the fact that Yell do use templates for their sites. I’m not saying this is a bad thing as a company as big as clearly have identified a niche and are aiming their offerings there – as I say in the post, good luck to them. Myself and others offer a different kind of service – not better or worse, just different.

    I’m not sure where you’re looking, but if you want reviews from “normal business owners” you’re best asking them directly or even posting on business related forums – just introduce yourself an ask. Also, whenever I search for reviews about Yellsites I always get the review centre link displayed very highly each time, so that may be a good place to start – – which I cited in the post above. Try searching for soemthing like “yellsites reviews” or “yell web design reviews” – you’ll find some positive and negative experiences so you can make your own mind up. If anything, at least you’ll take away some questions to ask your potential company (whoever that may be), as having that extra bit of knowledge can be worthwhile.

    However, I do appreciate your pain when searching for what you’d crefer to as “normal” reviews, as a lot of reviews nowadays, especially to do with web related things, do end up technical – some things just have a name! 🙂

  5. Lol nice trick, well not trick, just a good search idea. I’ve just tried it for “hotels” and it works as described. The only drawback to your method is that, naturally, at the top of the top of the results are the and results, which you don’t want. To try and remove these, you could append to the search, so say in my case I’d Google (without the quotes) “web design by yell hotels”, which shows lots more relevant results, quicker, so you don’t have to trawl through the directory pages. Doing that, I immediately get gems like , and even (there are lots more immediately there to view and use as examples).

    It really is a strange old word ain’t it?

  6. Nice article. A few points raised here that I have missed. I did not notice the “content recycling” on Yellsites. This is really not good for SEO, let’s just hope that their clients come to realise their incompitance and look to go with smaller, more skilled web design companies.

  7. I’m a web designer and am bored of people asking me why yell sites are so cheap and what I can do better. I’ll be printing out this post and using it for my reference. I always say “yell web design” in loosest sense possible, as they really aren’t doping any design to speak of, just changing the content on pre made, naff templates. I always tell my clients to avoid yellsites as they will only get burned in the future. All these posts about yellsites killing of normal web designers is a total joke tbh, like every otherr designer, I have nothing to worry about, as the quality of sites they produce is on the low scale.

  8. From the “yellsites” I’ve seen as part of my job as a web designer I’ve not understood why there are so many angry designers out there. You all have nothing to worry about as yells web design are not sustainable for the long term – any business owner will see that when their “yellsite” does nothing.

  9. Yer, the points about yellsites not being viable long term is quite valid in my opinion. Those “fit all purpose”, template based sites are never going to offer a great return on investment long term.

  10. Hehe


    What are you selling here exactly? You sound like yet another web designer who has lost business to Stop being bitter and move on.

    Hehe, hello Mr Yell employee. Just to clear things up, I’ve lost absolutely no business to your company, if anything, I’ve gained through your customers being unhappy with your sites – that simply aren’t working for them. Just three additional points I should mention here:

    – You backlink attempt is laughable, so laughable in fact that I left in the link. Kudos to your “yell marketing”.
    – You Yell employees really, really should start either hiding your IP. I can see see the IP this is being posted from, falls within the – range that belongs to “YELLOW-PAGES”. See:;jsessionid=B4BB39EC0B02863E1DB7B3FA959F36A3.apps4
    – Thirdly, you’re even using the same username from other similar blog posts.

  11. ha! brilliant! confirmed my thoughts about yellsites exactly, glad i’m not the only one 🙂 love ‘kevster’s post, spot on

  12. Over the last year alone i have dealt with 5 small companies which have yell sites all of which have been overcharged and are completely baffled as to what they have got and how to update it. None of them wanted to stay with yell however a few were also confused as to what they get with the yell package and were slightly reluctant to ditch their site or move their domain of fear of been charged. Something is clearly quite wrong and yell are blatantly selling packages which are confusing individuals.

  13. You are maligning a brand name, which is unethical. What is that you didn’t like about Yell. Can you mention some instances where you think the company has not worked properly or as per the client’s expectations? Read this weebly review and share your thoughts.

  14. Read this weebly review:

    You are maligning a brand name, which is unethical. What is that you didn’t like about Yell. Can you mention some instances where you think the company has not worked properly or as per the client’s expectations? Read this weebly review and share your thoughts.


    Firstly, I’ve removed the link, I’m not sure how a link to a review about some software called “weeby” is relevant – your name is a little on spammy side too, but I’ve left this as is.

    I think “maligning a brand name” is a little dramatic personally. For the record, I’m not trying to do this at all (have you actually read this post before commenting …. ?). Template reuse is something clearly do, and fair play to them. However, the main complaint from clients I inherit is that their site simply isn’t working and they are getting charged a lot of money for their site. Anyone interested in SEO/CRO will tell you that design is a key part of a website and that a generic template will do a site zero favours when it comes to converting those visitors into customers. This is where yellsites don’t work. For someone who wants a run of the mill web presence, somewhere to send a customer when they give out their business card, then a basic site is fine. However, when a site is looking to convert casual traffic into paying customer, the design/seo/layout etc. then becomes an issue.

    This post came about when I was discussing this exact point with a potential client and they wanted to see exactly what I meant, with examples. Some people I speak to are gobsmacked because they were under the impression, from the Yell sales people that they’d be getting a unique site. In my client’s case it was doubly bad, as a competitor, located a few miles down the road and exactly the same website with different colors. No one can say this is good on any level. Again, hence the post.


  15. I run a small Kitchen refurbishment company and advertise in Yellow pages. The area rep came to see me to discuss my re-newel of contract and pushed the idea of my own web site from Yell. It sounded good and I signed up on Thursday 17th Jan Having waved him goodby I Googled to find some reviews on yell web sites. I’m shocked to find that there are so many negative comments. Looking deeper into the world of Yell’s web design does’nt fill me with much confidence that I am doing the right thing.
    I have now cancelled my order !! Thanks for saving me money and a lot of grief.

    1. Glad you made your own mind up 🙂 At the end of the day from what I can see, the site is fine for literally a presence on the web, E.g. for someone to get your contact details or check what you do after viewing a flyer or your business card. From the yellsites I’ve come across, I reallyc an;t see them working long term CRO wise at all. Another thing to note – you pay for them ongoing, so the site becomes more expensive the longer you have it 🙁

      Anyways, tons of stuff written online about them, both positive and negative for people to read up themselves.

  16. Yell and 1&1 both offer services to the same sort of clients – people with a small business (& budget) who just need to get something out there for a low price. Let’s face it, everyone uses the internet now – think back 15 years and people would be searching through their yellow pages for a local business. I doubt anyone under the age of 50 uses them now!

    So that means that every small business really should get something online, but how much does it cost to do that? You might be able to get someone working out of their bedroom to do it for £100, but how good would it be and will they be able to support you if something goes wrong or needs changing? Maybe you go to a web design company but you’ll be more likely to pay £70-100 / hour for that!

    The cost of paying a developer, graphic designer, building rent, power, electricity, benefits, changes from specs (always!), etc. It’s a full blown business and they really do need to charge £70-100 / hour.

    So you are really left with a template based design from someone who has created an engine to knock up a basic site for you for cheap – ie, Yell or 1&1. I haven’t looked into your problem with Yell, but I would imagine (having experienced this as a web developer) that quite soon after the site goes live… most customers find that they want more pages, more functionality, more graphics, sliders, forms, etc to suit their business needs. Then Yell is going straight to a developer who probably needs this £70-100 / hour rate. The customer asks for a new enquiry form (or something) and gets told it’s going to cost £300 to create. Then suddenly the website isn’t quite so cheap.

    Perhaps that’s not the reason for the Yell complaints, but the truth is that websites aren’t something that is a cheap extension of your business. Its a part of your business and you need to pay a fair amount for it. If you do it well – it pays for itself. If you just want your contact details and a little detail about your business online then you will find it hard to get a cheaper site than a template based one because half of the work is already done. You just have to think ahead as to whether you want more functionality later.

  17. I worked for Yell as an Account Manager for a few years and have now ventured on my own making the exact same websites as Yell but a lot cheaper. I have set up a successful business. If any small to medium businesses are fed up of Yell’s websites and costs than give us a a shout. Yes Yell had poor websites but they have now got their act together by making newer websites, still cant beat us for value. £299 for a 15 page bespoke website. Can anybody beat us?

    1. The question is why would anyone want to even attempt complete a website for £299? How on earth companies make money when they charge so little is completely beyond me. Factor in all the “soft” time like telephone calls, meetings, emails, training and instantly you’ve eaten a lot into that £299.

      Then you have to develop (said in loosest sense possible if working in WordPress, as there’s no development to speak of) actual site.

      Granted, it doesn’t take a huge amount of time if pasting in a WordPress template and making some minor CSS edits, (as the majority of these low cost WordPress sites unfortunately inevitably end up becoming), but the lack of time is still so confusing to me.

      Then after developing you need to set time aside for testing the thing, setting up a staging environment etc. If you can make a decent profit when charging £299 then fair play to your sir.

      I actually know two freelancers offer WordPress sites at a loss for £375.00, simply to get the customer on board for printing services. It’s that bad :/

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