Beating Google by doing a narrow range of things extremely well

Not long ago quietly introduced its own local business search. The site, the original “people search” engine, has always offered “yellow pages” listings but now the company has built its own database in the background. Accordingly, WhitePages claims its data is more accurate than you’ll find on search engines and Google in particular.  The company goes directly after Google in its press release and a related video introducing local business search:

Unlike traditional search engines, WhitePages has built its extensive back-end database of business listings from the ground up to not only capture the most accurate local information, but to surface it in a way that makes it easy for consumers to locate and connect with businesses all in one place.

Many people don’t realize how successful WhitePages is; it’s something of a cash cow and has been profitable since its inception. The company took no VC money and is privately held. The company also powers “2 billion searches on over 1,500 partner sites.” It’s also a top 50 comScore website. And its mobile apps have done extremely well too.  In one sense WhitePages is an example of doing a narrow range of things extremely well. People use the site today chiefly to do name, address and phone lookups for individuals and businesses. Business search on used to be provided by yellow pages publishers, which are still delivering ads to the site.

The company has recently enhanced and improved its search functionality and some of the features around its listings data. But the “marquee” feature being promoted with the new local business search launch is a store locator.   Source:

BIIA Newsletter June II – 2010 Issue