Yellow Pages are Dead

At least the paper version of the yellow pages is dead. I opened the new phonebook to find an Indian restaurant for take-out, and the listings were skimpy enough that the the by-cuisine section is gone. Restaurants that I know exist were not listed. My guess is that restaurants are dropping their yellow pages ads in favor of web sites. In the latest phone book for Palo Alto, that section in the directory just dropped below the useful level. I won’t bother with it again.

Unfortunately, local web search still isn’t doing the job. Yahoo! Local is the best, but browsing multiple pages for different kinds of restaurants is really clumsy compared to the good ol’ paper yellow pages. Try it: a Yahoo! search for indian restaurants, palo alto links to this Yahoo! Local result. Not bad, but it doesn’t seem very complete or up to date. Why list the Whole Foods six miles away in downtown Palo Alto but not the new one a mile away in Los Altos?

If I have more time to plan, I scan the Metroactive restaurant section which has pretty good coverage, but with some mysterious navigational division between full reviews and the one sentence descriptions.

In our case, we skipped restaurant take-out entirely, and grabbed some Indian from the deli/take-out section at Piazza’s, our local grocery. So switching from paper to web didn’t really pay off for the local restaurants.

Silicon Valley is a few years ahead of the rest of the country in web adoption, so let’s hope that local search can get it together before my parents in Texas are stranded with a skinny, useless yellow section in their phonebook.

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