Jul 252013
 

One of the most frequent questions I get (especially after this review on Yext) is how a manual citation building services, such as ours, compares with an automated listings distribution service, such as Yext. I will cover the comparison points one-by-one below.

1. Reach

Yext’s network currently consists of 42 platforms, and they have less public relationships with a few more. For instance, I have noticed that one of the most active “users” on Brownbook.net is “Yext”. It is to be noted that Yext offers its services only for US-based businesses (although some time ago Howard Lerman, CEO of Yext, mentioned to me that they were looking into expanding internationally in 2013).

A manual citation building service could potentially cover as many platforms as necessary. Some businesses might already be found on a number of sites, so these might also need to be excluded from the process. At the same time, the competition from industry to industry and from location to location varies greatly. For example, 40 citations might be more than enough for a pet groomer in Rancho Cuccamonga, CA, but even 100 might be completely insufficient for a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA. Additionally, a manual citation building service could potentially be offered to businesses anywhere in the world. We, for instance, offer it for the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Dubai.

2. Time

Most of the listings submitted through Yext get updated instantly. According to their tech specifications files, the following listings get updated slower:
– 411.com – 1-3 business days
– Citysearch – 2-24 hours
– HopStop – 2 minutes
– Local.com – 24 hours
– MapQuest – 30 minutes
– PhonePages – 1-3 business days
– Superpages – 1-4 business days
– Switchboard – 1-3 business days
– Topix – 24 hours
– Whitepages – 1-3 business days
– Yahoo! – 48-72 hours
– YellowPageCity – 24 hours
– Yelp – 1 hour

With the manual approach it really depends on the website. For instance, listings on sites such as CitySquares, EZLocal, GetFave, MojoPages, ShowMeLocal, Tupalo, are created/updated immediately. However, listings on sites such as Yahoo! Local might take more than a month to be set up or fixed. Additionally, as the service is manual, it might not be possible for your listings to be created in the same moment you submit your order. With our service, for instance, it takes 20-25 days to deliver the final report with all the completed work.

3. Personalization

Obviously Yext offers an automated service and the personalization with such services is normally put to the minimum. You can choose a package, but the websites that are included in it would be pre-determined. You can also choose which listing to be updated (only one per platform), but again – you can choose just from listings on sites that are part of Yext’s network.

A manual citation building service allows for much more personalization. This is crucial point with the current stage of online marketing. Both in terms of general exposure and SEO value the platforms vary significantly from niche to niche. An interesting study by GetListed and Whitespark showed some time ago how different the most important citation sources for different industries and cities were. One great disadvantage of the current version of Yext is that it doesn’t deal with duplicate listings, i.e. it is limited to one listing per website. This limitation could easily be overcome with using a manual citation building service. In our process, for instance, one of the most important tasks is checking for duplicate listings and removing them.

4. Completeness of the profiles

Yext has deep integration with most of the platforms in its network. That is why they are able to provide a lot of information to make each listing as complete as it is impossible to become unless one is a Yext subscriber. As I have previously written, completeness of profiles is an indirect ranking factor in local search, so this is an important point.

A manual citation building service can generally offer two types of profiles:
– Basic profiles
– Enhanced profiles
Basic profiles are the free business profiles that most business directory websites offer. Unfortunately, in many cases these basic profiles allow for much less information to be added to a listing than if these were paid enhanced profiles. Some manual citation building service providers (such as ourselves) have different types of relationships with some of these business directories and are able to provide enhanced profiles at no added cost. These enhanced profiles are very close to the profiles created via Yext.

5. Subscription period

Yext’s subscription period is 1 year. After 1 year, unless one decides to continue subscribing, the listings are taken down or revert back to the stage they were in prior to the initial subscription. This is something I wrote about recently.

Howard Lerman, CEO of Yext sent tweeted the following in regards with this comment:

 

I will be following up on this as there is obviously some discrepancy between what is being shared in the Yahoo! Localworks FAQ (which is white-labeled Yext, as already mentioned) vs. what Howard claims.

Most manual citation building services are one-time offers. This means that once the process of claiming/submitting/editing is finished, the listings will not disappear or revert back to how they were (incomplete, incorrect, unclaimed). Furthermore, ours, and other citation building services, allow for ongoing citation building, i.e. adding new citations every month for a period of a few months.

6. Total cost

The total cost for Yext’s main package is $499/year. Cheaper rates could be obtained from resellers. Yahoo! Local offers the same service, white-labeled as Yahoo! Localworks, at $89.95/quarter.

The rates for different manual citation building services differ. There are providers that offer citation building for as low as $1/citation, and as high as $5/citation. Generally, based on personal observations and experience, higher rates suggest higher quality. Our citation building service rates, for instance, are $50 set-up fee + $3/citation.

Both Yext and manual citation building have their advantages and disadvantages. Which one should be chosen highly depends on the situation and the needs.

  31 Responses to “Comparison Between Manual Citation Building and Yext”

Comments (31)
  1. Excellent post, Nyagoslav! Very helpful comparison.
    Can you imagine a situation in which a service like Yext would be a good fit?

    • It would be helpful in the cases where a business is just getting started with online marketing, or when their online footprint is very insignificant. It could give them a kind of an initial power-boost. It might also be useful for companies with hundreds of locations where manual citation building might be harder to scale.

  2. Good stuff! Just FYI, MOZ doesn’t offer Yext discounts to Pro subscribers anymore :( but thanks for passing it along! http://moz.com/perks

  3. Great comparison that is easy for business owners to understand and weigh the options.

    Manual is always better in my (limited, US) experience. Yext’s continued enhancements are interesting, but as you point out dupe removal is an important attribute to any citation building effort. Factor in reach, cost, and the fact that listings disappear if Yext subscription is terminated (ridunkulous), it should be a no-brainer for any business owner reading this article.

    • I think there are some specific cases in which Yext could be a better solution. As I mentioned above, under Bill’s comment, if a business is just getting started with online marketing and wants an initial fast boost, Yext would be a better option because of the speed, for instance.

      • I have a few businesses that I used yext exclusively for citations (new businesses,) and they expire next month – so I will be able to tell what “revert back” means very soon.

        Great post Nyag….

        • Thanks, Jeff. I’d be happy to hear back from you when the subscriptions expire.

        • Jeff, before you retire Yext, go try to claim your listings. This is just a guess, but thinking from an algorithmic point of view and knowing how directories like Yelp, Manta and others work, you might be able to retain your listing enhancements by claiming those listings before you retire Yext. I spent a lot of time in discussions with UBL a couple of years ago and I found out that if you claimed your listing before you signed up with UBL, they are locked out. That’s a clue as to what will happen if you claim those profiles while you are with them. However, I don’t know what kind of arrangement Yelp and all the others have with Yext to know for sure, but it would be an extremely helpful experiment.

  4. Downside is they will remove or revert your citation when your subscription is up. Adds more value to waiting a little longer to have a manually entered citation take a while to get verified but will not be removed or reverted. Nice comparison!

  5. So glad you brought out the point about the annual extortion fee, uh, I mean subscription fee. Ok, slap me for calling it that, and I know I may get hate mail as a result. But I never liked that and couldn’t do it to my clients. Just felt evil even though my business advisor calls it brilliant.

    • Everyone does business as they find it suitable for their needs. A business such as Yext that deals with thousands of listings a day could easily get “depleted” in terms of potential clientele if they didn’t have such a recurring fee. While from moral POV it might not be perfect, or what I’d do, from business POV it is indeed a very potent decision.

      • Nyagoslav, I’d like to retract my comment. On further research, I think it was unwarranted. Recently on 2 different occasions I had to rescue 2 small business owners who had gotten ‘stuck’ in SEO contracts because they were afraid of the consequences of canceling their contracts. In their case, it was good for them to leave, but leaving Yext has some seemingly negative consequences. So it elicited a reaction from me because I hate seeing small business owners get locked into anything, particularly when their marketing budgets are so small. But Yext CEO’s comment here had me do some further research which I addressed in my latest post http://katandmouse.com/kat-s-meow-blog/local-seo/yext-citation-tool. You can read my own take on it there. My apologies to Yext. I also propose an exit strategy there that might work. I also added it as a reply to Jeff’s comment but don’t see it here yet. (You’re probably sleeping on your side of the planet. :)

    • “Extortion” is meant as a hyperbole and not meant to be taken literally. But read my comment below. I’m retracting it after doing further research into Yext and reading Howard’s comment. I was suffering from foot in the mouth disease at the time.

    • I noticed that Yext had my business listed (without my consent) with the wrong phone number. When I filled out the form to correct it, it came up with a required charge of nearly $500 to do so. I did not continue with the process, and yet, the next day one of their representatives called me to try and get money from me to correct the number. Isn’t that extortion?

  6. I think if you’ve got the choice you should always go manual over automated! But I’ve come to have a deep distrust for any “push button solution” on the Internet. There are just too many bad ones. Nice post. :)

  7. I like yext because there is no phone or postcard verification for the directories. That helps a lot when setting up multiple locations for many clients. Now that Bing is included, seems like all they need is Google and it would be compete. They seem flexible on reseller options

    • Speed is definitely one of the biggest advantages of the service. However, in the cases where there is phone verifications, we usually get the listings up very fast. We have a process of helping our clients with phone and postcard verifications. The unfortunate case is when only postcard verification is available. This frequently happens with Yahoo and Bing (from the network of Yext), as well as with Foursquare (if you try phone verification and it doesn’t succeed).

  8. Nice one Nyagoslav! Business owner don’t have to pay higher amount just to automate the submission. They just need a good citation builder to do the job. Good job on pointing out the difference between manual citation building and automating using yext.

    • Quality is definitely a key in manual citation building. Unfortunately, I know of many that have been “bitten” in the past by hiring questionable “specialists” on Fiverr, Elance, etc. Not all are too bad, but the majority have little understanding of how complex of a process citation building is.

  9. Very thorough analysis. Nice work

  10. Great article. Yext is a data overlay and doesn’t fix the listings. My partners are so happy with the partner branded solution I am providing. We should chat when you have a moment, Nyagoslav. I can be reached at (805) 960-5573 – would be great to see if there are any opportunities to collaborate.

    Best,

    John

  11. thanks @Nyagoslav for your detailed comparison between manual citation building and Yext. And I prefer to work building citation links manually because through this we build it by ourselves to put the necessary business info to include and to make it enhanced profiles as it should be.

  12. I read your review and appreciate the pro’s and con’s you highlight. Here’s the rub. I don’t know what “citation building” means. Also, I am a nice sized bowling center trying to improve our visibility. The independent contractor I am working with is charging $100 per month for a year to get us set up and continue to update with new info, coupons, etc. He is working his way through the SEO’s listed on Yext. He is about half way through. I wasn’t sure how to compare his price to your referenced pricing “The rates for different manual citation building services differ. There are providers that offer citation building for as low as $1/citation, and as high as $5/citation. Generally, based on personal observations and experience, higher rates suggest higher quality. Our citation building service rates, for instance, are $50 set-up fee + $3/citation.” I’m sure your blog is much more tuned in for other Citation Builders rather than customers but I would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you. Jim Thatcher

  13. We are considering Yext for our agency to save time, as the manual process does take up precious hours. However, I am having a hard time investing in the service year after year for something that seems to be a “one and done” deal. I understand the importance of consistently signing in and updating specials, content, etc. The other item that really has me questioning the investment is that the charge is based on locations, not the company. So, if you have 14 locations, you will be paying monthly fee x 14. OUCH! Does anyone know if there is a legitimate alternative to YEXT? I don’t mind investing into a similar service, but there has to be a more affordable option.

  14. Nyagoslav,

    Do you have any experience with losing G+ ranking/ placement in the seven pack (A-G) as a result of using the Yext “Power Listings”. My personal experience is each time I would try the Yext software to clean up citations or get a spike in Google Placement the client would drop off several pages. The first occasion was from position “J” one spot away from the seven pack to immediately all the way back to page 4 in maps after I used Yext.

    My opinion is with domain authority being about 18% of Google Ranking Factors (according to moz.com) and the redirect that Yext uses to build its own domain strength the client loses External Loc. Signals and On-page Signals thus dropping Google Ranking.

    Any thoughts?

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