Transportation entrepreneur Vlad Svetlov knew he would benefit from an internet presence, but only if it was optimized to show up well in key search engines. Enter local search company Yodle, which nabbed 30 new customers in the first month alone for the Russian immigrant's 3-year-old business, Heights Car & Limo Service.
"I advertise both on the internet and locally; Yodle does a better job than anyone else for the money I pay," says Svetlov, 31, who founded his now $3 million business after working as a driver for 6 years. He's now in expansion mode, merging with other local transportation service companies in the New York City area and considering opening an office in Manhattan.
Svetlov is looking to build a more active following with both locals and out-of-towners, who are increasingly inclined to use the internet when preparing for business travel or vacations. Yodle reaches both audiences, since it highlights a business's local presence while reaching across the internet and outside a company's neighborhood.
Here's how it works: When an entrepreneur contracts with Yodle, the internet company builds a custom website for the business and purchases strategic keywords on various search engines, including Google, so that sponsored ads appear as potential links when those terms are used. For most businesses, the system can be implemented in less than a week.
That may sound pretty typical. What's unusual about Yodle, though, is its ClickRank technology, which lets you track virtually every click or every phone call generated by a visit to the website. Another unusual aspect of Yodle: It does not lock entrepreneurs into lengthy contracts, but instead allows them to use the service month to month as needed.
Svetlov, who contracts with other local internet advertising companies in the New York City area, pays $1,500 a month for the service and intends to keep doing so. He says Yodle's ability to reveal exactly what is happening with prospects is unique.
"I log into the account, and it tells me everything, [including] times of calls, [and] it even records the conversations." Svetlov says. "About 60 percent to 70 percent of the leads are very accurate. They either become a customer or call us back in the near future."
Svetlov isn't the only entrepreneur calling out to clients through Yodle: The company, which snagged a $12 million round of VC funding last November, has generated over 120,000 calls for its customers.
Heather Clancy is Entrepreneur's "Web Sight" columnist.