Local SEO and Yext. Worth the Investment? (plus 40+ directory links)

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local seo and yextChances are you’ve come across a Yext local listings ad at one point or another if you have built citations for a SEO client or for your own business. Their PowerListings service helps local business owners quickly claim citations across their network of partners, helps with duplicate citation listings and allows you to sync up your listings from one central location so it is updated seamlessly across every channel.

If you have ever gone through the mundane and tedious task of finding and claiming citations on your own, the Yext package probably sounds pretty good. Having manually built-out citations for over 100 local clients and having used the Yext paid service for other clients, I have a pretty good grasp on what to expect.

At the end of the day, we want our citations to help us rank locally. So the investment in time or in the cost of Yext has to make sense from a business perspective. This is the approach I take with the following assessment of local SEO and Yext.

Cost or Time?

At the time of this writing Yext offers four different citation packages, all with the variables differing in the following areas:

  • Total amount of citations offered
  • Add-on services like the ability to publish products and services
  • Analytic data on profile views
  • Review monitoring

At $199, $449, $449 and $999 annually, these services can obviously be a serious investment in your local SEO. Also keep in mind that annually is the key word here, you have to renew your contract each year whereas manual citation-building keeps you listing up for life in most cases. If you don’t renew, the citations on the sites are likely to disappear based on the partnership agreements Yext has with these sites.

That said, do you really want to go through the trouble of manually finding and claiming the 40 or so citations Yext will take care of for you? Given each citation will probably take you about five minutes to claim (some more time, some less), you are looking at 200 minutes of what most people agree is not a fun undertaking.

Still, you have to also consider that the general consensus amongst SEOs is that manual citation building has a more positive affect on your rankings, and this has been my experience as well. I mentioned above I have worked with clients that have paid for the Yext service but have seen no rise in rankings. This can be troublesome when you are spending $499 and expecting your rankings to increase due to the claims Yext makes about their service.

Realizing that it can take two or so months to get your citations to help rankings, you want to make sure that you are getting what you pay for. On that note, you can’t simply claim all the citations that Yext has on their index, you have to pay for them. For some business owners who see value in certain directories this investment may be worthwhile. For others, it really doesn’t matter.

Yext PowerListings Packages

A Word on the Yext Listings Scan

My biggest beef with this free listings scan is that it can be misleading to business owners who don’t read between the lines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had business owners tell me that the Yext scan provides them data that makes them worry about how they show up across the web. Yext has played into the psychology of consumers and showcases red text “Not standing out” and a bright orange exclamation point with the warning text “Not Verified Through Yext” next to any listing not verified with a paid account.

While I will admit the Yext Listing Tool is a nice way to see how your business shows up across the web, the use of red and orange – colors that are associated with warnings and problems – gives business owners the wrong idea.

Check out this below Yext scan of my business, Digital Elevator. Being a local SEO specialist, you’d imagine I know a thing or two about citations. If I were the average non-SEO business owner, the red and orange would probably make me think that my citations “not standing out” or not being “verified through Yext” was the reason I wasn’t ranking. Understanding sales text and psychology, this is a brilliant little strategy that Yext has devised but in my opinion, is more than a little misleading. My business is fully verified through these directories (Yext doesn’t say that it’s not) but the other Special Offer and Status columns might make one question the quality of my listings.

Yext Listings Scan

 

Yext Citations: Which are Free or Premium to Claim Manually?

Of the 50 or so Yext listings that are listed on their free scan, I thought it’d be valuable to SEOs and small business owners to know which ones they can claim for free. I do this not because I am trying to take any credit away from Yext’s service, but rather because anyone who has used this page as a reference for claiming citations manually (which I am sure many, many people have done) knows how time-consuming it can be to go through the following process 50 times:

  1. Find the directory company
  2. Look for the “add your business to the directory” section
  3. Use the internal website tool to see if your business is already listed
  4. Claim your existing business and edit or create a new profile and a new listing
  5. Submit business only to find they want to charge you after you have gone through all these steps

Here are all the citations from a Yext scan along with links to the sites and an indication of whether they are free or premium. Please be aware that these may change from time to time and I apologize if this list becomes inaccurate. If so, please kindly let me know in the comments and I will update the page.

Citation Name Free? Notes
Yext Listings:
Yahoo Look for Local Basic Listing on the page amongst paid options
Facebook Add business information to company page
Bing Usually send a postcard to verify
Yelp
White Pages No Requires Yext Subscription
Map Quest No Requires Yext Subscription
Superpages (Dex)
Citysearch Search for business first to add
Local.com No Email says listing confimed but also promoted Yext payment. Check email for confirmation
FourSquare They send postcards to locations but sometimes allow phone verification
DexKnows No Requires Yext Subscription
MerchantCircle No Not Free
eLocal
EZlocal
LocalDatabase
ShowMeLocal
Topix No Paid only
CitySquares
LocalPages They call you to confirm
MojoPages
Yellowise No Requires Yext Subscription
YellowMoxie No Requires Yext Subscription
Tupalo Search for business then claim or add
Avantar No No directory
Co-Pilot No Requires Yext Subscription
YellowBot Search for business then claim or add
Navmii No Requires Yext Subscription
Where To? No Requires Yext Subscription
ChamberofCommerce.com No Not Free
USCity.net No Not Free
YellowPageCity.com
AmericanTowns.com No Requires Yext Subscription
8coupons No Requires Yext Subscription
N49.ca For Canadian businesses
Factual Aggregator site, you’ll need official business documentation. Worth the time.
PennySaver No Requires Yext Subscription
Yasabe Spanish directory
GetFave Look for your business in directory by category. Claim or add.
GoLocal247
Citymaps No Requires Yext Subscription
Citybot No Requires Yext Subscription
YellowPagesGoesGreen No Not Free
Pointcom No Requires Yext Subscription
ABLocal No Not Free
Opendi
VotefortheBest No clue how to add to this site!
2findlocal
MyLocalServices No Not Free
Cylex Seems to be free but doesn’t seem to work for me.

Yext and Local SEO Conclusion

Personally, I would never recommend to a client that the Yext listing service is a good call. This is based on the fact that one, I have never seen good results from Yext that justify paying for their service and two, manual citation building seems to be the way to go. To Yext’s credit, I have never done a side-by-side comparison of one business to another with one using manual citations and one using their service while also managing all others variables. This would almost be impossible and I wonder if anyone has ever taken two nearly identical businesses and conducted this test.

If you are going to use the Yext plan that corrects all your listing errors (why would you not want to correct errors if they exist) then it will run you $499. For the same amount of money you can go through a citation-building company like Bright Local or Whitespark who currently charge $3 or $4 per citation, respectively. So even at $3 to $4 a citation times the 50 citations you’d get with Yext, you’d still only be paying $150 to $200 for citations that would not need to be renewed the next year. Plus both companies offer volume discounts so you can save more if you have a lot of citations you want/need to build.

For the record, I’m not affiliated with either of these companies but see a lot of value in the services they provide. Citation building is not fun but is very necessary which is why Digital Elevator no longer offers it as a stand-alone service but does provide it with a full tilt local SEO campaign. We turn to these guys and help small businesses like yours spend your money more wisely on things like ice cream and candy canes.

What is your experience with manual citation building, Yext or other paid directory services? Please let us know in the comments.

Daniel Lofaso
Daniel Lofaso
Daniel E. Lofaso is the lead SEO and owner of Digital Elevator and is also the founder of startup SwellSpy. Connect with Lofaso on Twitter and LinkedIn

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