The business data interconnections among the players in the local search industry are as complicated as they could be. There are many layers of data and which one would be displayed to the front-end user might depend on the trustworthiness of the source, the completeness of the data, the recency of the data, or simply on how much you pay to the particular business directory. However, in some cases, the relations between data providers and “data displayers” are so tight that they could be called dominated, or one-provider networks. The power of the sole data provider in such networks might vary from “total domination” (i.e. no other player is allowed in any way within the network) to “pay-to-play” (i.e. it might be possible for someone else, including business owners, to infiltrate the network, but they would usually have to pay in some way to do so). But before going into actual examples, an explanation of why it is important to recognize and avoid, if possible, such networks.
Citation building and citation clean-up are naturally time-taking and frustrating tasks, but they could easily become even more so if one keeps stumbling on business listings that could not be updated in any way (this is especially painful if, for instance, you have moved to a new location and hordes of disgruntled clients keep going to the old one because there is your outdated information somewhere out there and you are unable to update it easily). It takes between 5 and 30 minutes for a person that has no experience to figure out how to create/edit/claim/remove a business listing from a business directory, depending on the user-friendliness of the site. However, on average, during my citation audits, I find 20+ business listings that are impossible to be updated, mostly because they are part of some closed business data exchange networks (or simply because they don’t have the technical sophistication or customer support to do so). If this was the first time I was seeing them and I didn’t know better, it would have been taking taking me additional 100 to 600 minutes to do something that would eventually lead to nothing each and every time. There are some easy ways to figure out which sites would be worth giving a try, and which ones would just lose one’s time, although in the majority of the cases you would just have to have gone through it the hard way to obtain the “knowledge”.
1. Local Corporation Network
One of the most prominent networks in the US is the one of Local Corporation (Local.com). Almost all of them have identical layout, which is relatively unique, and feature a footer that says:
Here are some examples of such websites:
There is no way to update a listing directly on any of these. The only way is to do that via advertise.local.com. Once the information on local.com is updated, it takes between 1 day and a week for it to populate across the network.
2. MojoPages Network
Another network is the one of MojoPages. The sites that are part of it are easily distinguishable by the title “Powered by MojoPages” which is normally found on their homepages. Here are a few examples:
Like with Local.com’s network, there is no way to directly update these listings.
3. Acxiom Network
Acxiom, one of the three “old school” major business data providers in the US, is responsible for business data distribution across a large portion of the whole ecosystem. However, usually this data is mixed with other, and it is relatively rare that what Acxiom provides is displayed publicly. This is not the case for a small network of websites, which could easily be distinguished by the footer logo saying “DATA by ACXIOM”. Here are some examples:
Again, as with Local.com and Mojopages, there is no way to update the listings directly.
4. Whitepages Inc Network
This is a small network that consists of just the following properties:
The only way to add or update a listing in this network is via ExpressUpdate (free, in the majority of the cases), or via Yext (not free).
To be continued…