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Canadian SEO IYP Rankings Report 2010

It’s often said that the Yellow Pages were the original Local Search medium. Times have changed, and with search engines having a clear lead over print directories, Internet Yellow Page type sites and their off-shoots such as niche vertical directories and review sites often claim to have good SEO as a selling point for paid inclusion, advertising, or enhanced visibility.

Canadians are always at a crunch for informative studies and statistics compared to Americans. Almost all important case studies and reports are carried out with US specific data and Canadians always end up referring to these statistics in order to determine rough estimates. Canada may not have a large number of data providers, IYPs, and 3rd party vertical directories compared to the US, but the competition is still tight and fierce among the major players, namely YellowPages.ca, Canpages.ca (owned by YPG), 411.ca and Goldbook.ca.

They’re constantly striving to create new, innovative and might I add, expensive online advertising programs for businesses across Canada. Their biggest value proposition to business owners is their trust and authority in search engines along with their huge traffic volumes which will eventually drive qualified leads to business websites. Clients often call us with questions related to which IYP site should they invest in and expect the highest return on their investment. Therefore, Powered by Search took the initiative to carry out this somewhat scientific report into the overall web visibility and SEO effectiveness of Canada’s most widely recognized IYP sites.

Before I reveal the final results of which Canadian IYPs are the best at SEO, I’d like to point out some key features of this case study:

  • Generic Canadian IYPs and citation sources we used based on their overall authority, web presence and traffic volume.
  • Top 11 Yellow Pages headings were chosen based on the Yellow Pages Association’s 2005-2009 YPA Local Media Tracking Study.
  • 100 largest Canadian cities by population were chosen based on the  Canada 2001 and 2006 census.
  • Keyword searches were performed on Google Canada English search engine.
  • Keyword searches were performed in the following format: <Heading>+<City> (eg: Car Dealers Toronto).
  • The final results are based on the visibility of the selected IYPs and how often they ranked in the top 10 organic search results.
  • The keyword rankings were processed through a software rank checker, which ultimately means that the data is close to 100% but may have errors due to time-outs or no results being returned.

List of Headings Used

  • Auto Repair
  • Auto Parts
  • Car Dealers
  • Dentists
  • Hair Salons
  • Physicians
  • Pizza
  • Plumbing
  • Restaurants
  • Surgeons

List of IYPs Tested

  • 411.ca
  • Brownbook.net
  • Canpages.ca
  • CityDirect.info
  • FoundLocally.com
  • Goldbook.ca
  • HotFrog.ca
  • ShopinCanada.com
  • Weblocal.ca
  • YellowPages.ca
  • Yelp.ca
  • Ziplocal.ca

Drumroll to the Results…

Without further ado, here are the final results of the best SEOed Canadian IYPs based on their visibility in the top 10 search results of Google.ca across 100 cities in Canada and for 11 major heading categories:

  1. YellowPages.ca
  2. Canpages.ca
  3. 411.ca
  4. Weblocal.ca
  5. Goldbook.ca
  6. HotFrog.ca
  7. Yelp.ca
  8. Ziplocal.ca
  9. Foundlocally.com
  10. Brownbook.net – No occurrences in top 10 organic results
  11. CityDirect.info – No occurrences in top 10 organic results
  12. ShopinCanada.com – No occurrences in top 10 organic results

Canadian SEO IYP Top 10 Ranking Chart

Let’s take a look at how these sites performed in the top 20 and top 30 search results:

Percentage wise, YellowPages.ca dominates overall search visibility across 100 cities with 22%. Canpages.ca and 411.ca follow right after with 20% and 13% search visibility respectively.

Canadian SEO IYP Visibility Index

If you happen to be a business owner reading this study, please keep in mind that an IYP site ranking prominently in volume of searches, does not necessarily mean it ranks in major metro areas such as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This is primarily because directories cannot compete with a well executed SEO effort of a local business website that focuses on increasing search engine trust and relevance for its own service areas, products, and services.

This study was inspired by two US IYP studies conducted by Andrew Shotland and Net Magellan in 2009.Local SEO
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About the Author

Hired Gun of all things Internet Marketing & SEO. Founder at @PoweredbySearch. Local Search aficionado, and startup lover. I love fast cars & smart people.
  • http://www.seoverflow.com Mary Bowling

    Dev, Thanks for putting the effort in to help Canadian SEO’s! I will definitely pass this along to my Local Search students – they are ravenous for this kind of Canada-specific info.

  • Vlad

    Very informative article. Good stuff guys.

  • http://www.canuckseo.com Jim Rudnick

    Hello Dev!
    Thanks SO SO much for this! Really, as we understand the IYP marketplace, there were few surprises to this other than the lack of real ranking for the GoldBook folks….in the GTA area here they appear to do much better than your National results show! Our clients will love this too!



  • Shagun Vatsa

    @Jim – I’ve noticed that too and we’re looking forward to posting the follow up report which shows how these IYPs perform in major markets compared the small, low competitive areas. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Mary – That’s exactly what we wanted to do: Create a Canadian specific study to show detailed results rather than having to rely on estimates based on US data. I hope you’re students find this useful.

    @Vlad Thanks Vlad :)

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    Great work Dev. With Canpages & ZipLocal, looks like YPG owns local in the Great White North.

  • http://www.smbSEO.com Mike Stewart

    Just to confirm Dev,

    YellowPages.ca is a standalone company and not apart of Yell, iirc it was a spin from Bell Canada, correct?

    Also, that also included http://www.SuperPages.ca which was purchased by KKR or Bain Capital for a heap load of cash (just under 2 billion?) when VZ jumped out of the Canadian market and then later sold to YPG for 2.55 billion…. correct?

    Just want to clarify.



  • http://www.411.ca Francois-Pierre Marcil

    Thanks for the research! Great stuff.

    I just have one comment that I think will be fair and constructive: I don’t think it’s a correct premise to evaluate SEO “rankings” based only on category keywords. What about the very long tail? What about the directory branding keywords. I would very much like to see revised figures with just a few brand keywords thrown in for each directories.

    :) Good day,

    FP from 411.ca

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    Apologies to Shagun. Nice work!

  • Shagun Vatsa

    Thanks for stopping by Andrew – Your study was really an inspiration and I’m glad Dev and I were able to finally complete the Canadian version this year!

  • http://www.411.ca Francois-Pierre Marcil

    Hi Dev! Yes I guessed this was your intend with it and it’s a very nice study. It was like a nice late summer gift when I first opened it.

    Branded keywords: I guess what I am saying is that, if you would have the chance to look at the traffic logs of each directories, you would find that the SEO patterns of each are very different(different is not bad, I think) and for solid strategic reasons. In the end, we are all shooting to get more audience for our customers and in this respect, for the uninformed press or the public, it would be easy to read this study and overlook this important distinction that this is about Category Keywords Visibility, not “Overall SEO visibility”. (In my opinion.)

    As a few of us SEO already know, this is a space where Google is currently testing a lot of new interfaces that might change the strategic SEO direction of Canadian IYPs away from Category Keywords.

    Have a great evening!
    FP from 411.ca

  • Shagun Vatsa

    Thanks for stopping by Francois. I think you make a very good point by suggesting that this study represents the “Category Keywords Visibility” of IYPs. With regard to whether IYP’s will continue to have a focus on category keywords, my opinion is that publishers and businesses will continue to optimize based on the way consumers look for services and products online. So in the near future, I still think it’s going to be category + service area plus social variables such as reviews and ratings.

  • http://www.nvisolutions.com/ Francis Vallieres

    Funny to see the number 1, 2 and 3 on the list all worked with us on their SEO.

    Let’s say it’s make my day, having worked on all those projects personaly.

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  • http://www.ontarioseo.ca Wayne

    Excellent study Shagun – good to see information of this caliber NOB.
    It would be really interesting (but ridiculously time consuming) to see the correlation between visibility and the traffic they send the individual businesses that subscribe. Francois from 411 will be happy to note that a client of ours pays money to both 411.ca and YP, yet apparently receives about 20% more traffic from 411. So many metrics…

  • http://www.nvisolutions.com nicolask7

    Hi Shagun and Dev,
    Thanks so much for this article, I know that you guys have a serious background in that industry so the study really gains in credibility. IMO, the main takeaway is that the more and the sooner you’ve been involved in a real SEO strategy, the more you’ve been able to gain competitive advantage on other industry players. In that sense, Canpages really did a good job few years ago when they decided to invest in SEO. In less than a year, they’ve managed to become serious competition to YPG. (disclaimer: like Francis, I’ve been involved -at NVI- in the SEO activities for number 1,2 and 3 of your rankings report.

  • Shagun Vatsa

    Hi Nicolas – Thanks for stopping by and your kind words. My CMR background certainly gave me an insight on what the final results would look like even before we conducted the study. Canpages has always been strong with their SEO and had we carried out this study pre YPGs acquisition of them, the results would have been slightly different. I think it was a very strategic step on YPGs part to acquire Canpages and their recent heavy investment in SEO has really lifted their visibility in many markets across Canada.

  • http://justlinkbuilding.com/ JG

    Thanks Dev and Shagun, some interesting graphs indeed, I like 411’s comment that perhaps it is unfair to evaluate based on single categories as indeed we must consider the long..er tail accounting for the majority of Google searches.

    Its worth noting that the websites like yellowpages and hotfrog and so on have international backing in terms of brand presence and SEO scale, including inlinks from their own thrid party domain, websites like canpages that the local providers have more work to do here – thus it would be reasonable to expect that the larger brands have a dominance over a scope as set above. Which was a speculation of mine… until you just proved it.

    Thanks for the read! keep up the hard work!


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  • http://www.seoever.com Seo Bever

    is not only this changes in between the leading companies but I see too often that having a link on those web dirs is not helping you as they display the link as http://www.namedir.com/youwebsite and not http://www.yourwebsite.com.
    Also the only advantage in listing your business with yellow pages and other web dirs is PR juice, if any.
    And, third, buying a place on there is often expensive at the point of letting them go.

    Probably the only major web directory I will list my website will be Best of Web.

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  • Bill Verboom

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time.

    As an owner of a franchise who relies heavily on SEO for prospects it’s critical we get good rankings.

    I have a question for the group:We are thinking about canceling our IYP (YPG) on renewal because the number of prospects is negligible. Are we better off using the funds we would have spent on IYP towards a more intensive SEO plan? We already have a number of SEO efforts in place.

    Our analytics are currently above our competitors but I’m concerned that canceling our IYP will cause a significant drop in SEO for which we will have to spend a greater portion of time and money to counteract than what we currently spend on YPG.

    Thanks again for the great article, you’ve just gained another fan.

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  • steve

    Hi Dev, just as a matter of slight clarification. YPG does not own Canpages / Ziplocal but rather is owned by the same owner as CP/ ZL, namely Yellow Media. Otherwise an excellent presentation.

  • http://searchenginesemseo.com/optimization/ Singapore Search Engine Optimizer

    Are Canadians always at a crunch for informative studies and statistics compared to Americans? :)

    Where can I find more information on that?

  • http://www.axzm.com Dallas SEO

    Great insight into the Canadian SERP’s. I have a client based in Toronto, and I have been looking for first hand experiences from other SEM peeps. Thanks for putting this together.

  • cheryl

    In response to Shagun’s comments on August 25th…I have to agree with Nicolask7 in regards to canpages.ca…they were very strong in SEO well before Yellow Media purchased them…many of the search results specifically in B.C. had them ranked much higher than yp.ca…

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  • http://www.SmallBusinessOnlineCoach.com Matthew Hunt

    Dev & Shagun,

    Just caught this one. Nice work here. I think both canpages and ziplocal both have been purchased by Yellow Media, right…? Seems like they have been buying up all the local CND directories.

    Did praized make the list…? I see them often too in Canada. Would they be considered a IYP…?

    What do think that will mean for these IYP’s, if basically only one player owns all them…?

    Recently I tried sumbitting some clients to ziplocal and their form wasn’t working. Contacted support and support said they are being run by Canpages and there is no real support by ziplocal and they are maybe planning on dropping it, make a long winded story short – couldn’t even get the businesses submitted.

    I really like to see a re-test of this now that Google has updated the way they display their local results. I bet it even squeezed those IYP’s off of page one even more.

    Even from a customers point of view people are not searching for YP’s less and less every year. Just look at this search results from Google Insights:

    Great job Dev & Shagun! Can’t wait for the update. :)

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