Companies like DexYP/Thryv (formerly called Dex Media, SuperMedia and SuperPages), Hibu (formerly Yellowbook), Yext and Yodle offer online marketing services such as online listings, Google Pay-Per-Click advertising, search engine optimization, and websites. If set up properly, these online marketing methods can work in getting your business noticed. The problem that most business owners I've talked to who have dealt with these companies have found (and also based on many online complaints) is not the services they offer but the way these services are carried out.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is based on discussions I've had with dozens of Dex/Thryv and Hibu customers throughout the years, and the information herein is based on their personal experiences.
It's the same complaints every time: Lack of communication, billing errors, website errors, and basically paying through the nose for "services" that simply aren't working.
When you agree to work with any of these companies, you should be aware of what you're signing. It may be hard to believe, but here are some of the things you'll be agreeing to if you sign up with DexYP/Thryv (Dex Media):
See a detailed explanation of some of the more disturbing parts of their contracts.
These are large, national and international companies, many of which utilize subcontractors and/or outsource their work overseas. Since different departments are located in different parts of the country and world, communication within the company and with customers can be less than adequate. So if you have a technical question, your salesperson may tell you to call a different number. Billing question? Another number. Or you get transferred to 6 different people before you get a resolution, if that happens at all. Be prepared to set aside large chunks of time (and Rolaids) when dealing with these companies. Dex/Thryv and Hibu customers I've talked to have told me that once they signed their contract, it was very difficult to get a hold of their sales rep again, until about two months before the contract was due to renew.
From what I've heard from small business owners, some of the things that the Thryv/DexYP (Dex Media) sales reps promise tend to not always come to fruition. Remember, these are commissioned salespeople whose only job is to get you to sign up for their services. You might not know enough about websites, SEO and search ranking to determine if the salesperson is being honest or not. They may leave out important details like the fact that you'll be locked in to a contract that requires 30 to 60 days written notice if you want to cancel. Or that you probably won't get a copy of the contract you electronically signed, even if you make multiple requests. Or that they will own your domain name, even if you owned it before. Or some of the more shocking things that you'll have to agree to.
That "free" website they built for you is not truly free. If it's part of a bundle that includes online listings and phone book ads, you're paying for it one way or another. If your monthly fee is $400, then $200 of that could be going to your website. You may think $200 a month is not much for a website, but $2,400 a year, every year, is too much for ANY website, let alone a template site.
Websites are secondary to these companies. They make their revenue from other forms of advertising, and they throw in a website to make you feel like you're getting a bargain. But their websites are nothing more than mass produced templates, with stock photos and clip art that is used for every other company in your industry. The websites utilize proprietary coding that does not adhere to proper W3C standards, which means your website could be ignored by search engines. The sites often lack proper search engine optimization (SEO), which is necessary to show up in Google search results. You cannot expand or customize the website without paying a higher monthly fee. And customers have told me that trying to get them to make simple changes to the website is like pulling teeth, and it often ends up being done incorrectly. But the most important thing to remember is that once you stop paying, your website gets deleted since you were only renting it, they can keep your domain name, and they can use anything you sent them (pictures, text, etc.) anywhere they want (even on your competitors' websites) even after you stop working with them.
The bulk of what you'll be paying these companies will be for Google Pay-Per-Click (often they will call it something else though, a nicer sounding euphemism like "Search Engine Marketing (SEM)" or "Local Search Marketing"), which is expensive and often not worth the exorbitant cost. Pay-Per-Click is a big business, and the only companies that truly benefit are those that are selling it. Also, if a Pay-Per-Click ad ranks well (which of course depends on how much you're willing to pay for the ad placement), it conceals the fact that the website isn't ranking well organically. If you really want to do Pay-Per-Click, you can do it yourself through Google for way less, and cut out the middleman.
If you want a good quality website, hire a web design firm, one that focuses first and foremost on building websites that utilize proper SEO so you rank well in search engines like Google. A small company is often a better fit for a small businesses, as they understand the needs of small businesses and you'll usually be talking to the same person every time (although many small web design companies outsource their work as well, so be sure to ask).
And remember that even if you think you're stuck in a contract with DexYP, Dex Media, Thryv, Hibu or any other similar companies, you may be able to cancel your contract.