Aug 122013
 

A few weeks ago I wrote about the difference between manual citation building and an automated service, such as Yext. The article sparked a discussion specifically around one of the main comparison points – what happens with the already created listings once one cancels or stops paying after particular period for the service. Here is what I wrote:

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.

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.

My observations at the time were incomplete and were practically based just on three main points – what was written in the Yahoo! Localworks FAQ (note: this is white-labeled Yext PowerListings), the (at least) tens of comments around the web about how listings disappeared or reverted back when one canceled with Yext, and things people have shared directly with me while discussing about Yext. Obviously, I realized that this was not a strong enough basis to support my statement, and that is why I started digging around for additional information.

First, Jeff Bridges sent me this interesting screenshot:

Yext Cancellation Warning

The sentence that is specifically curious is: “Your listings will be taken down on or after [date].” One could argue that by “listings” is meant “Yext listings”, or “listings coming from Yext”, but there is no clarification on that. In any case, if I was a small business owner going to cancel this service, I would leave with the impression that all of my listings will be removed.

A few days later, the guys at Yext were kind enough to shed some light on what happens after the cancellation. You could read the full article here. Apparently this article was dedicated to me:

 

In the very beginning of the article the author answers negatively a few questions that practically haven’t been asked, namely: “Does the business listing data get deleted by Yext at each publisher? Does Yext take down the Name, Address, Phone (NAP) from each of the sites and search engines? Does the business’s online presence disappear? Lastly, does Yext put the old data back that used to be wrong?” (*underscoring by me). It has to be very clear that the questions that are being asked are others. For instance, “After I cancel Yext, does the business listing data get deleted in any way at any publisher?” or “Is the old data reverted back in any way to as it was prior to using Yext?” As you would notice further below in my research, the answer to these questions is, if I could use Yext’s phraseology, “a resounding and emphatic YES”. And it is actually answered in the exposé of the article Christian Ward of Yext put together. Here is what he writes:

…because Yext no longer has this lock in place, Yext has no control over the listing directly at all, and the business listing data will now act as it normally would occur without Yext.

Further, when a PowerListing becomes inactive, the enhanced content (photos, menus, hours of operation, products, biographies, featured messages, and more) that was connected to the business listing ceases to be available.

The conclusion we could draw from this explanation is that not just Yext, but no one (including the business owner) has control over the listings after they are released by the “Lock” of Yext. This brings the question “Who controls the listings DURING the Yext PowerListings usage?” Or another one – “Why should I pay $500/year when in the end of the day, my control over my business’s listings will be stripped off?”

Just a side note, another interesting fact I discovered during my research is that in order to track clicks to website from the listings that were “locked” during the PowerListing process, Yext creates an odd redirect script that actually links to their own property, rather than linking to the business’s own website. The redirects look like this:

class=”url” href=”http://pl.yext.com/plclick?pid=p7L7pHc3HF&ids=1075027&continue=[insert-site]&target=website” onclick=”return tnr(‘http://pl.yext.com/plpixel?pid=p7L7pHc3HF&ids=&target=website&source=detailspage&action=click’,’http://pl.yext.com/plclick?pid=p7L7pHc3HF&ids=1075027&continue=[insert-site]&target=website’);”

What this means is that even if you wanted to gain some additional value from the links from your business listings, you couldn’t if you use Yext PowerListings.

And we finally come to the research I keep mentioning. A few weeks ago Spencer Belkofer contacted me to tell me that he previously purchased Yext PowerListings for his client – Dawson Family of Faith, but as he was dissatisfied with the results he was planning to cancel it. He had heard that I was looking for a potential case study of what happens after the cancellation and was kind enough to wait for me a few days so I could research and make a before-and-after comparison.

Background

Spencer signed his client up for PowerListings on June 24 after a Yext sales representative assured him that all listings will be taken care of, including duplicate listings (something I’ve previously written that Yext are not good at dealing with). The major issue was that Spencer’s client was changing its name – from Dawson Memorial Baptist Church to Dawson Family of Faith. They had been using the former name for years and therefore their online footprint was significant. Spencer considered Yext as a fast and easy way to get the problem solved. There were a few problems that made Spencer realize something was not as he was promised it was going to be:

1) According to Spencer, the church was listed on numerous places as “Synagogue, Jewish Temple, Buddhist Worship Temple, and Mosque”. He had to call “several times” before he got the answer that he had to “manually go through each site and create a list of the ones that had incorrect categorization”. He got frustrated and after another call they promised they were going to fix this issue.

2) Yext reps offered Spencer their new enhanced content service (apparently PowerListings+), which featured “staff, calendar, and menu pages appended to business profiles”. He agreed and they promised him it was going to be up in “2-3 days”. According to him, it took 2 weeks and very few of the listings ever displayed this content.

3) The real disappointment was with the inaccurate duplicate listings that didn’t get fixed. Spencer was told that he needed to go through each “publisher”, make a list of the duplicate listings he finds, and send them to Yext, so they could try to remove them. After a disgrunted support request, Spencer had to wait a week before following up as he didn’t get an answer or any help with this issue. After he was finally answered to, the Yext rep closed the case as solved, although “nothing has been solved” (Spencer’s words).

Actual Research and Methodology

I started my research on August 1st, and finished the preliminary stage (before the cancellation) on August 4th. The cancellation was completed on August 5th. I started the “After” research phase on August 6th, and completed it on August 9th. Note that all the research data is valid as per August 9th, 2013 and as we are going to be doing a manual citations clean-up, it is very possible that a lot of the raw data will be outdated soon.

The research methodology was the same which we use during our citation building, citations clean-up, and citations audit processes. It involves two parts – automatic and manual. During the automatic research part, I used a number of online software tools to find out all listings both on sites that are part of Yext’s network, and on other online properties. During the manual research part, I manually checked all the sites in Yext’s network that allow public checking via desktop.

Research Limitations

There are a few limitations that my research has and that have to be taken into account when reviewing the results:

1) I did not have full access to some of the web properties in Yext’s network, as these do not have publicly available desktop-based user interfaces. These include AirYell, Avantar, CoPilot, Cricket, MetroPCS, Navmii, White&YellowPages;

2) I do not have access to the state of the business listings of the business prior to the signing-up with Yext;

3) I had limited access to some online properties due to me not being physically within the US. I did use US IP addresses, but the limitation was still there. Some of the online properties that block or limit traffic from outside the US are Bing and Superpages.

Results

You could download the raw data from here:

Listings Synced by Yext (Before Cancellation) (original report provided by Yext)

Listings Synced by Yext (Before Cancellation) (report amended by me)

Listings Not Synced by Yext, But in Yext’s Network

Listings Outside Yext’s Network (Before Cancellation)

Listings Synced by Yext (1 Day After Cancellation)

Listings Synced by Yext (5 Days After Cancellation)

A. Before the cancellation

Remarks:
– There are officially 47 web properties within Yext’s network;
– No listing has been synced for Bing; the following explanation was provided: “Bing has indicated to us that they cannot provide a PowerListing for this location because it is already controlled by another source.
– No listing has been synced for Facebook; the following explanation was provided: “Opted out
– No listing has been synced for GetFave; the following explanation was provided: “Processing
– No listing has been synced for Patch; the following explanation was provided: “Patch is not available in every geography and does not currently support your city. As a result, we are unable to provide you a PowerListing on their site.
– Instead of link to the CoPilot listing there was provided a link to the Google+ Local listing of the business, therefore CoPilot was excluded from the final results

After the sites with problems have been excluded, there are 42 listings on 42 web properties left that were synced by Yext. Of these, the following had some problems:

– The listing on 8coupon featured the category “professional services”
– The listing on Tupalo featured the category “Local Services”
– The listing on YaSaBe featured the category “Sports Clubs”

Of the 42 web properties only 35 were further researched due to the limitations mentioned above.

Within the Yext network there were discovered the following additional issues:

– 2 duplicate listings on Citysearch
– 2 duplicate listings on Factual
– 2 duplicate listings on MerchantCircle
– 1 duplicate listing on Bing
– 1 duplicate listing on ChamberofCommerce
– 1 duplicate listing on Citysquares
– 1 duplicate listing on GetFave
– 1 duplicate listing on ShowMeLocal
– 1 duplicate listing on Yelp
– 1 duplicate listing on Yellowbot
– 1 duplicate listing on MojoPages
– 1 correct listing and 1 duplicate on Facebook (not synced with Yext)
– 1 correct listing and 1 duplicate on GetFave (not synced with Yext)
– 1 correct duplicate and 1 incorrect duplicate on Local.com (there was a third listing, synced with Yext)

Overall, there were found 16 major issues (this number excludes the 2 correct unsynced listings on Facebook and GetFave, and the correct duplicate on Local.com).

Across the web, outside Yext’s network, the results were the following:

– 13 correct listings
– 115 incorrect listings
– 25 duplicate listings

Of the incorrect listings, there were only 3 that featured the correct business name.

B. After the cancellation

After the cancellation of Yext PowerListings no changes occurred across the web properties that are not part of Yext’s network.

The following changes occurred across the websites part of Yext’s network (42 web properties) within 5 days after the cancellation:

– 19 listings disappeared
– 4 listings reverted back to the old data
– 15 listings were stripped off the enhanced content
– 4 listings were still “locked” (Yext Synced)

Additionally, the correct duplicate on Local.com disappeared (or rather – all data was stripped off the listing, as the URL was still live).

All listings that were Yext Synced, were not owner-verified after the cancellation, i.e. they were not controlled by the business owner.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Obviously no definitive conclusion could be drawn from just one case study, but a few things seem to be clarified:

1) It is very possible that after one cancels their subscription with Yext some of their listings would disappear. This is not necessarily the fault of Yext, but it does happen.

2) It is also very possible that some information might get reverted back to its state prior to using Yext PowerListings.

3) Listings created or “locked” using Yext are not owner-verified and thus the business owner would not have control over them once Yext PowerListings is canceled (unless, of course, they go and claim them manually).

4) It is very possible that Yext might not get some incorrect listings fixed or removed, specifically in the cases where there is more than one listing per business per website.

5) Almost no listings outside the Yext network are directly or indirectly influenced, at least within 1 month after the Yext subscription started, by what has been done within Yext’s network alone.

Tomorrow (August 13), we will be starting a manual clean-up of all the listing for Dawson Family of Faith, which will proceed for 3 to 5 weeks. Once the process is completed, I will follow up with a report and a similar case study.

  51 Responses to “What Actually Happens When One Cancels Yext”

Comments (51)
  1. Excellent information on Yext Nyagoslav. I have wondered about many of the questions that you address in this post. It seems like Yext benefit is largely derived primarily while being a Yext customer which is not surprising and perhaps most beneficial to new businesses as opposed to established ones. I know of start-ups who have gotten value from the service, especially from a time savings standpoint of getting listings up quickly and pushing offers through enhanced listings.

    Fixing issues with existing listings for established businesses, especially since the online visibility report call to action is “Fix All” and eliminating duplicate entries and data inconsistencies is a huge part of the Yext sales pitch which sounds like, at least in for the example in this case study, had limited truth.

    I look forward to your follow-up one the Dawson Family of Faith cleanup has begun. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for your comment, Rick. I agree that the tool is great if you are just getting started and you want to kick-start your online visibility outside your website.

    • I don’t think that ‘eliminating duplicate entries’ is a sales pitch of Yext.

      They do a great job of matching up existing listings to their system, and they allow the user to specify which listing should be synced if duplicates are found. However, I don’t think they try to sell anyone on duplicate destruction.

      One strategy that I have pondered is… If a duplicate is found and one of the dupes is correct and the other is incorrect… should I leave the ‘most’ correct one alone and sync the incorrect duplicate? (That way at least if there is going to be a dupe, it is a correct dupe and not an incorrect dupe.) :)

  2. Well done, Nyagoslav, well done. The level of detail in this research is fantastic. Linked to it over in an Google+ thread in the Local SEO Community.

    Looks like I’ll be sticking to doing manual citation building, as I was curious as to how Yext could help my agency.

    Cheers,

    Blake

    p.s. Hope to run into you at conference sometime in the near future.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Blake. If you are a fan of the manual approach of doing SEO (like myself) that is just backed-up by automation whenever there is no other way out, then manual citation building might be the right option for you :)

      I am currently not having specific plans of attending conferences in the US, but I am hoping to do so at least once during 2014, so hopefully we could meet up!

      • I’ve always preferred manual citation building, you actually have control over the citation and can enhance it any way you choose.
        The only real enticing feature of using something like Yext is that it significantly decreases the time you spend auditing and building citations.

        Hope to meet up at a conference next year!

        Cheers

  3. Whew!!! Nyag. Long article. But Blake nailed it. Excellent detail and research. I bow to your knowledge on citations!!!!!! Tremendous.

    I checked on something w/ Mike Blumenthal re Yext listings a short while ago. Mike had written a review in March 2012: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/03/01/yext-local-seo/

    One point that I haven’t found via research is if the original Yext Power listings appears to get data into Google more quickly than if by hand efforts.

    That is a qualitative question. Have you seen any responses to that issue? Has anyone conducted a study wherein 2 new businesses were started…say both with minimal or no citations. One used yext power listings. The other used hand entered citations.

    Would one be picked up in google more quickly. I suppose a really great test would involve 2 businesses of the same category and in the same general market place. That would be one way to measure one smb against the other.

    Regardless of the theoretical approach have you seen user reports wherein the users are very happy with the speed and effectiveness of Yext?

    Aside from those questions…going back to your research. Very strong, Sir…very strong!!!!!! :D

    • Thanks, Dave! I much appreciate your comment. I do know about Mike’s article and I’ve practically read it, together with all the commentary under it, at least a few times (including the info provided by Yext representatives).

      Unfortunately, I don’t know os such a research, but if there is one, I would be extremely interested to see the outcome. In any case, it is possible that Google differentiates between a normal listing and a listing coming from Yext, not purely because it “comes from Yext”, but because the Yext listings potentially feature more information than the basic listings available on the majority of the business directories. Regarding speed to get a listing to be picked up by Google, I would rather think there is no difference. In other words, if you set up Yext today, and syndicate the listings, and the exact same day you get normal listings directly through each website in the network of Yext, I believe the timing for these to get picked by Google would be relatively the same.

      Regarding reports, I have positively seen a lot of reports about the performance of Yext, but I’d rather prefer to keep them for myself :)

    • Hi Dave,

      I was wondering if you could clarify what you mean by “get data into Google more quickly than if by hand efforts” … and “would one be picked up in google more quickly?”

      Are you asking which method (Yext vs manual) would result in the new listings getting indexed or re-indexed by Google?

      Or are you asking something more like ‘if a brand new business signs up for Yext, how long would it take for google to create their ‘own’ G+ Local listing for that company’?

      In either case, Google only knows what it can ‘see’. I think this way: If it is in Google’s index, then Google knows about the listing/content.

      If the URL hasn’t been re-crawled by Google and there is new data available at the listing URL, but Google has not yet re-crawled the newly corrected listing… then Google has no clue that the listing has changed.

      It is ‘technically’ possible that a page that is indexed in Google may never be re-crawled again (remains stale). For that reason, when I have the time to do it, I submit listing URLs to Google to re-crawl after a Yext sync or manual claim/correction.

      This ensures that Google will have a fresher database of my client’s info, faster.

      When I have time to allow my OCD to run free… I have been known to track dates of if/when a new listing gets indexed in Google and also when their page ‘cache’ is updated as well.

      This data helps me to have an idea, per venue, as to if/when that venue may have a potential SEO effect on the client’s domain.

  4. Great reporting!

    In our experience, manual citation building certainly delivers better results than some “listing service” that either charges for changes, takes a year and a day to update (I’m familiar with disparate update times across the ecosystem), or relies on listings extortion to retain customers.

    If only small business owners knew what we’re talking about…guess we can only share and continue to develop the dialogue.

    Thank you for sharing such an in-depth examination!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Chris! As the phrase goes: “We live in a free world”, and everyone is free to build a business and provide services as they find suitable ;)

  5. Excellent analysis Nyagoslav! Very helpful for choosing the best way for building and managing citations.

    +/Share/Twitt

  6. Why are we even considering Yext to be a citation service? Doing that would be totally unfair because their product is NOT built to be one.

    If Yext claims to be a citation service, they are an over-priced and broken service for what they offer.

    Afterall, their sales pitch seems to be “Update Once. Updates Everywhere”. They are trying to sell local businesses on being able to update offers, photos, deals, videos all in real-time across different local exchanges and sites.

    But, the biggest problem with that pitch seems to be that there are only 5 exchanges that really matter for any given local business and the other 45 that Yext syndicates to are just a waste of time (when it comes to dynamically updating coupons or photos).

    • Ash,

      We don’t consider Yext necessarily a “citation service”, although that would obviously depend on the definition of such a service. However, Yext IS an important part of obtaining or fixing citations, so the parallels are inevitable. And in this train of thought I would completely agree with you that exactly this part of Yext’s offering (actually getting the profiles out there and/or fixing the incorrect ones) is what really matters for businesses. The value of the rest, as you say, such as special offers or pictures, or bios on a profile, is significantly lower. And that is why I’ve been researching on exactly that part of Yext’s offering – because that’s what people are mostly interested in.

      • Nyagoslav,

        I’m guessing 80% of the sites in the Yext network don’t even matter. I think they have some sort of special relationship with CityGrid to get their push updates on that network of 46 sites.

        I’d be interested / curious in a study to cross-check Yext data to see if there is indeed NAP, Category accuracy.

        • Hi Ashwin,

          I recently noticed that CityGrid.com does not get updated when Yext pushes a sync with CitySearch.com.

          Even though they are under the same company… and even though when you claim a listing on CitySearch it brings you to a dashboard on CityGrid, Yext only updates the CitySerach.com listing, wish really sucks.

          Yext support told me the following the other day, which I already knew, but, whatever:

          “Our partnership is with CitySearch directly, not CityGrid and their affiliates. You may know that CityGrid is the parent company of CitySearch and they also have partnerships with other local listing sites. Our partnership is only with CitySearch, so we are only able to update the listing content on that site.”

          I just felt that they ‘should’ update both at the same time… I mean… even the IDs in the listing URL are the same. And when you claim/update a listing manually via the CityGrid dashboard… the CitySearch listing is also updated. I felt Yext should work the same way… guess not. ;(

          Russ

  7. Nyagoslav:

    On a somewhat tangential issue but related to citations in a way I saw this news about Patch: http://www.businessinsider.com/aols-patch-sales-leader-email-2013-8

    1st: the relevancy: Patch is a citation source. In that regard it is like CityGrid and its many affiliates.

    Here is the issue. Patch is about to fire a couple of hundred people. That is like CityGrid just a short while ago. I don’t know about you but after the mass firings at citygrid, which most, and you, referenced as an important citation source…..

    it got to be hard to get citations into citygrid or make changes.

    I suspect the same will occur with patch. They won’t have the manpower to maintain their directories, let alone update them, let alone to do so for free.

    The citation world has some other issues….and one of them is that these businesses aren’t in great shape financially. Look at all the YP’s and IYP’s.

    maybe google would be better off considering different sources for NAP recognition on the web???

    • Dave, it has always been tough to get a listing on some of the Patch sites. It really depends on the particular local mod, of course. I am not entirely sure how that staff cut will affect this process though, as the cut practically means closing of the local platforms, too. So no listings and no information there altogether anyway.

      Regarding other ways for Google to use for NAP recognition, I don’t think that’s as near in the future and as easy as we are imagining. In order for Google to use such information there must be some level of pre-existing trust. And I don’t see many other online properties that would be more trustworthy than those major business directories. Obviously, the perfect case from Google’s point of view would be if on every Google+ Local listing there is the corresponding business site, and on that business site there is the correct and up-to-date NAP in structured format. But sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. At least not yet :)

  8. Hi Nyagoslav,
    I’ve been meaning to read this for a week, and here I am late on Friday night finally getting the time to do so. This is an incredibly interesting post and you’ve provided such clear an thorough detail. Your findings are fascinating, and may I add, your new clients are extremely lucky to have found you after their previous experience. Well done, and thanks to both you and the client for publishing this information!

  9. Recently i was doing some research on local listing rankings factors and came across one of you post. The research and information you have included in very helpful.

    After reviewing your research in this article, i digged into Yext’s listing process and i do agree with your points on preferring manual citation.

  10. Wow. This is great Nyagoslav. Really shows the value of manual citation building. Comes as no surprise, but great to have the data.

    I’m shocked so many would actually disappear! Do you know if the ones that disappeared existed before the Yext contract? It would be interesting to see if the same thing happens with the same directories for everyone who cancels Yext, or if that disappearance is based on a unique condition, such as it just didn’t exist before.

    If they did exist before, I’d love to know the logic behind those directories’ decision to pull them. I would venture a guess to say most leaving Yext are not doing so because their business is closing, so to pull those listings only serves to make those directories less accurate and reliable in some or most cases, but that may be their reasoning. I hope they’re reading this.

  11. For some manual citation building some networks are now completely locked to Yext. As in there is no way to add a new listing without using the Yext service. I find that to be quite interesting that these local directories are now completely tied to Yext for new listings.

    • Pashmina, which ones would those be? It may be that they don’t matter. I can’t imagine a network doing that. They would be locking out the majority of businesses. That doesn’t serve them well. Could this be Yext buying them up and trying to get a monopoly? ?

      • Kathy,

        I’ve been doing some research recently and checked out pretty much every site in the Yext network. All of them barring Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare have some sort of a deal with Yext where they promote the Yext listings service.

        About 5 – 7 of those sites don’t even allow you to add a business unless you sign up for the Yext service.

        Yext seems to be trying very very hard to corner the market – but, they are primarily syndicating to sites that are part of the CityGrid network and I don’t think any of the sites that they have a “special” relationship even matter. Anyone can do push updates on the CityGrid network, Yelp, Foursquare or Yahoo Local by signing up for their reseller API.

        • I think what might be considered worse here is that in the large majority of the cases with the websites in Yext’s network, bulk uploads are available only via Yext.

          As Ashwin mentioned, there is a big group of sites that promote heavily Yext’s products and thus serve as resellers (apart from being part of their network). There are also many business directories outside the official Yext network that also do the same.

        • Thanks, Ashwin. Didn’t know about the API option.

    • I would be interested in knowing how many of the Yext partner sites would respond via email.

      I know that in order to claim/correct a listing the websites try to force a Yext package on you, but I have had some luck (at least in getting duplicates deleted) when contacting support directly.)

      Some times you need to state your case more than once… and clarify that you do not want to sign up for the Yext service to update the listing (at least in the duplicate removal cases.)

  12. In light of this, it might be good to draw attention to Linda Buquet’s post and discussion on how the local algo really works. She, Nyagoslav, myself, and many, many other local SEOs get clients in competitive markets to rank at the top and get their phones to never stop ringing without doing any citation building at all. Small business owners need to understand that a $500 annual fee for Yext is just not necessary. http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/google-local/8707-how-google-local-algo-really-works-what-3.html#post24201 Or do you have a blog post here Nyagoslav that you can draw attention to?

  13. It is just another rip off related to ELocalListings, 29 Prime, Local.com, Merchant Circle, and the list goes on and on. Their policy is to screw as many business owners as possible.

    When you quit one of these (false)
    advertising companies they pass on all your business info to one of their partners and you will then receive numerous emails, text messages and calls all of which offer to provide you with the same shitty service which you just canceled from.

    They still call me even after I filed complaints with the BBB.

    Do the math… They take on (let’s say) 2,000 customers at $300 per month and after 3 months (lets say) 1,000 customers are dissatisfied and request a refund.
    This is what happens. They will continue to charge your credit card until you notice that regardless of the fact that you cancelled service so now you have to cancel your credit card and file a claim with your bank. Then when the bank does its investigation the very first thing they ask for is a copy of the contract. Well since there are no contracts you get no support from your bank and no money.
    Those who seek the aid of the BBB receive the same results. So unless one is very lucky and actually receives a refund the percentage is so small to even be considered.

    The point being is these companies go on operating and ripping off businesses because there is no official oversight and no one cares. Even when they do get caught all they do is vlose the business and reopen it in a new name. After changing their business name now they are YEXT! But now with several years of experience screwing business owners they have learned to isolate themselves by creating an affiliate program. So now they have effectively reduced their exposure with this new affiliate program.
    But that’s another story!

  14. Hi Nyagoslav (& fellow readers/commenters),

    Regarding how Yext ‘locks’ listing data… perhaps we can learn something form my experience with dealing with UBL.

    From my conversations with various major aggregator support staff in the past years, I learned that there are various indicators that are sent along with NAP listings from a data provider. Some of the tags have to do with how ‘trusted’ the data is.

    In an ‘agency welcome letter’ that UBL.org’ sent to me in 2012, they said:

    “Our partnerships with InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Dun & Bradstreet … are considered ‘trusted source’ content as they are the backbone for many major directories/search engine databases.”

    In a separate email from 2012, UBL support told me:

    “If you do not renew … your record will be removed from the “active” file that we provide to directories. Different sites and distribution partners will treat deactivated UBL listings in different ways, according to their policies. Some may keep the listings active and some may delete them. This is beyond our control.”

    In 2013, UBL warned me, in an email full of scare-tactic language, that my listings were about to expire. They said:

    “… if you fail to act, these listings will no longer be treated as coming from a trusted source, as they are currently flagged by InfoGroup and other data providers.”

    Regarding how listings may disappear or revert to ‘old’ data…

    I’m wondering if reversion could be due to the partner sites not trusting the data as much, or thinking they should trust a different data source more.

    I can’t explain the disappearance, though, except… I have seen ‘Yext’ referred to in some exported listing URLs… if you visit the URLs they often redirect to a new or updated URL (based on new NAP data.) I see that some of the NAP listing URLs contain the letters ‘yx’ in them.

    For example, AmericanTown’s URL ends with: /yx-####### (where # is a number) and Local.com’s URL contains a folder called /yx/ in it. I’d be interested to know if those two sites were among the sites where the listings disappeared after Yext cancellation.

    Perhaps some listings are tied to Yext in more ways that Yext cares to admit? Perhaps once their ‘lock’ is lifted… the citation’s tie to this digital earth disappears and the IYP venue doesn’t know what to do with the ‘ghost listings’ anymore. ;)

    I would hope that by the time 1 year rolls around and the Yext service ‘expires’… that the listings will have been around long enough to ‘stay’ in place.

    I’d also hope that, throughout the same year, I would have been able to do enough correcting of bad listings and enough duplicate listing removal work that it would make it harder for the correct (Yext) listings to revert to the ‘old’ data.

    I theorize that the overall health of my client’s NAP citations would be good enough that the old/outdated NAP data would no longer propagate and it would not have much ‘weight’ in the IYP world. (For example the bad data would not have the ‘trust’ flags in place any more and the good data remains.)

    Many of us have seen how Google+ Local listings can suddenly revert to bad data, even after being claimed and verified by PIN… and even after editing the underlying GMM POI. This is because Google thinks that another ‘data source’ is more authoritative… or if one source is not powerful enough… perhaps several different IYPs with bad data would add up enough to convince Google’s algorithms to revert to bad data. In this case, Google would ‘trust’ some data sources more than others… and from what we’ve seen GetListed’s local search ecosystem… the data provided directly by a business owner via the Google Places dashboard is but 1 of many data sources. ;)

    I looking forward with great interest to see what will become of my client’s Yext listings after the year is up! Hopefully we can get more definitive input from others who have cancelled their Yext services and studied the before/after effects to be better prepared with expectations of listing ‘fallout’.

    Russ Offord
    Orion Group LLC

  15. Is it possible to claim your listings before you cancel Yext to lock in the updates? Can they even be claimed while they’re connected with Yext, or does that temporarily lock you out from doing that?

  16. Hi Nyagoslav (and fellow readers),

    I wanted to provide a broader look at the issue that was raised about Yext allegedly using ‘redirect scripts’ in their listing backlinks as well as the ‘SEO value’ of using Yext (in terms of the listing backlinks.)

    I exported all the listing URLs from my Yext dashboard an analyzed the HTML code behind each backlink in each listing and found that the redirect that you show is only found in 2 of 44 listings (YaSabe & WhereTo.)

    I believe that 8 of the 44 ‘live’ listings are for mobile apps or navigation products, and are not traditional IYP ‘citations’.

    Those venues include:
    AirYell, Avantar, CoPilot, Cricket, Navmii, White & Yellow Pages, MetroPCS, and WhereTo.

    7 of these 8 listings, (the exception being WhereTo), are hosted on the Yext website and have /partnerpages/ in the listing URL.

    According to Yext, they are only provided for the purpose of the client seeing how the data looks on that platform.

    The first 7 listings are not indexed in search engines. I even tried to use the Google Webmaster Tools “Submit URL’ / ‘Crawl URL’ function to try to get them indexed, but they are more than likely blocked by a robots.txt file or such, so they won’t get fully indexed. (The URLs were crawled, but the meta description showed as ‘blocked’.) In my test, I did manage to get 1 of those 7 listings (CoPilot) indexed for one of my clients… for some reason, perhaps a fluke.

    So that leaves 36 of 44 listings to discuss regarding backlink behaviour.

    16 of 36 listings are explicitly ‘no follow’. They explicitly don’t pass on PageRank because they use “rel=nofollow” in the HTML code.

    The 16 no-follow venues are:
    8coupons
    AmericanTowns
    ChamberofCommerce
    Citysearch
    eLocal
    EZlocal
    Facebook
    FourSquare
    Local.com
    MojoPages
    Pocketly
    ShowMeLocal
    Superpages
    Tupalo
    USCity.net
    YaSabe

    Of those 16 listings, 4 of them had questionable hyperlink behaviour

    ChamberofCommerce linked to their own website with a “/ClickOut.aspx?biz=#######” after the URL.

    Superpages linked to their own website with a “/ct/clickThrough?” after the URL.

    USCity.net linked to “nofollow.uscity.net” with the client’s site following as a variable.

    YaSabe linked to the Yext website using the following code format in the href: “http://pl.yext.com/plclick?pid=xxxxxxxx” (in the same manner that WhereTo does.)

    The rest of the ‘nofollow’ listing URLs use a fairly plain link to the client’s website.

    Of the 20 remaining listings that contain ‘followed’ backlinks (or rather don’t contain ‘nofollow’ code in the HTML code), there are 2 venues that use alternative backlink techniques:

    Yahoo links to their own web property (us.lrd.yahoo.com) with the client’s website somewhere in the mix afterwards.

    Yelp links to their own web property and uses “/biz_redir?” code to forward a user to the client’s website.

    That leaves 18 of 36 venues that seemingly leave a backlink that could be usable for SEO purposes. I say ‘seemingly’ because it could be possible that a venue could use other methods/code, of which I am unaware, to mask the fact that they are nofollow’ing or redirecting a link.

    Those 18 venues are:
    411
    Bing
    CitySquares
    Factual
    HopStop
    LocalDatabase
    LocalPages
    MapQuest
    MerchantCircle
    PennySaver
    PhoneNumber
    Switchboard
    Topix
    WhitePages
    YellowBot
    Yellowise
    YellowMoxie
    YellowPageCity

    Anyways, all that to say that Nyagoslav’s earlier statement is not quite correct.

    In this article, Nyagoslav said:
    “…if you wanted to gain some additional value from the links from your business listings, you couldn’t if you use Yext PowerListings.”

    I have shown here that Yext is not the determining factor for the viability of IYP venues for SEO value via backlinks.

    In all but perhaps one or two cases, it is the individual IYP venue that is responsible for how their website links to the client’s website, not Yext.

    In conclusion, 50% of the ‘indexable’ venues on Yext are allowing a backlink that is ‘SEO useable’, which are affected by Yext in no way.

    Whether all of those venues actually get indexed… well, that is up to Google… and you! ;)

    Sincerely,

    Russ Offord

  17. Hi, it is me again.

    I mentioned your Yext case study in a comment that I made on Mike Blumenthal’s blog post titled “Yext & Local SEO” here: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/03/01/yext-local-seo/#comment-686218

    I added in some of my own thoughts and analysis of the data from the spreadsheets you provided here.

    I hope you find it interesting and useful!

    Russ

  18. Does the same thing happen with other services like Localeze? If someone were to use Localeze for 1 year and then not renew for the next year, would the business listings that Localeze was feeding revert back to what they were before?

    • @Danielle

      Localeze operates differently than Yext. Localeze might ‘PUSH’ their data to publishers, but it is up to the publisher to decide if they want to use it or not.

      Yext seems like more of a PUSH/PULL with a lock. The data is readily accepted by the publisher because of their agreement with (and payment from) Yext. The listing is also protected by Yext’s data ‘lock’ as long as one pays for their service.

      In the end and/or after service cancellation, I think it comes down to what the partner publishers see as the ‘authoritative’ source. It is really up to the publisher what they do with the data once the ‘source’ or feed is cut.

      @Nyagoslav

      I find it interesting that out of the listings that were deleted all of the 4 WhitePages Inc related website listings disappeared.

      411.com, PhoneNumber.com, Switchboard.com, and WhitePages.com are all WhitePages Inc properties.

      Also, the americantowns.com and topix.com listings that disappeared both had a variation of the name YEXT in their listing URLs… such as ‘yext’, ‘yx’, or YXTPL (yext power listing)… not sure if that is just coincidence or not.

      • Great answer, Russ. I just have one thing to add – in the case of Yext, the publisher doesn’t really seem to have the option to choose if they would display the content coming from Yext or not. I don’t know if it is part of the contracts, or the publishers don’t really care. In any case, Yext’s data trumps everything else without any additional double-checking being done.

        Regarding the Whitepages Inc listings – yes, it is interesting that all of those disappeared, and they also disappeared at the same time. I suppose the technology used in all of these platforms and the “connection” they have with Yext’s database is of the same type and that is why this is happening.

        In addition to American Towns and Topix, the Local.com listing also did have yx in the URL. It is certain that this signifies some stronger connection with Yext’s data, and most probably it means that the listing is entirely based on data coming from Yext, rather than a mixture of data from different sources.

  19. I just wanted to say local SEOs need to unite and do something about this before it is too late.

    Alarmingly enough you are seeing yext on places like Yahoo and many other major listings nowadays, and just very very very recently, MAPQUEST went all out yext, yanking their free listings option.

    What will happen if a 5-10 more sites do just that? We all know how greedy yelp is with money making with ads or other ways, who is to say that Yelp, Yahoo, or even Google won’t buy into this yext scheme and effectively create a monopoly mechanism that forces small and large businesses to pay for play with no more worthy free options. What if Yext makes deals with inforgroup or acxiom? What will we do then? Sue them? I think not.

    This is why government regulation is so badly needed in the online arena. something that is nearly non-existant when it comes to a market such as SEO and digital marketing. well, free enterprise almost always turns into a mono or duo-poly in its strongest and most expressed forms. especially when there is collusion involved like this.

    How come it worked out just fine for all of these directories to offer free listings for so many years as part of their business model and suddenly it no longer is an option at all? I mean, $300 a year at a minimum and up to 800 a year via yext, that adds up to quite a bit of cost for a lot of smaller guys, 1500-4000 USD in a five year period, all for the same stuff you were getting for free for 10-15 years prior and even the previous guys get to keep their free listings anyway…. on my book, this smells like a lawsuit or something that some industry group or government has to step in and start regulating for fairness.

    rant-out.

    • John,

      I agree. There should be some sort of regulation that requires webmasters or IYP directory owners to provide a free, quick and easy way to update their business’ data in their systems.

      In my experience I have come across many venues that do not reply to nor even take action on multiple requests for changes to or deletion of incorrect data.

      • Ok @JohnS, now you got my rant going again.

        Yext is being extremely deceitful if not outright guilty of false advertising, though business advisors will say it’s just brilliant marketing. (I’ll post a blog soon on some things I found – not to expose Yext, but to help business owners know what they need and don’t need so they are not fooled.) And the fact that they are gobbling up previously free directories is disturbing. But is it illegal? No. They simply provided a way for those directories to actually start making money. We can’t blame those directories for jumping on board, and, again, business analysts would call Yext’s strategy brilliant. They’re trying to give small business owners no other choice but to buy into their product. I don’t like it, but it’s smart. And directories need to make money too. So it’s not all bad.

        I think the real solution is not to use data aggregators at all. Think about it. Why were they there in the first place? Didn’t that all start before the internet when we needed a central storage for business information because it wasn’t accessible any other way. That is so unnecessary these days. Why can’t directories just grab the data off business websites via schema code? We can create a WordPress plugin that pings the directories with updates. The directories in turn could be set up to receive those pings. And if businesses don’t have a website, there’s an easy fix for that. Of course, getting them all on board is the hard part. And if Yext is listening in, they’re probably laughing at that idea because they probably know from experience that it takes “brilliant marketing” and strong-arm sales strategy to pull it all together. Plus, now they have other directories on board who will hold out for the money.

        I’ve been watching Fringe replay in Netflix. I’m on the last season now and the advice from the Loyalist is “Just give up. Stop fighting the takeover. You can’t win.”

        Hate to say it, but maybe that’s what we need to accept. We can’t do much about it.

        rant-out.

  20. I’d like to note that it’s been more than 3-5 weeks and Nyagoslav was unable to fix any of the listings. I’ll be impressed if you post this comment, Nyagoslav!

    • I just posted a reply article here.

      • Any new updates on Yext? Considering their service to “fix” our online listings. We bought a franchise, same phone number and name but new address. Customers get confused when they stumble across the original location online and it says “permanently closed” . Thanks in advance for your input.

  21. @Howard

    What’s with you and the passive-aggressive, personal comments? Nobody’s slamming Yext. I happen to think it’s a great product for some situations. But there needs to be an open conversation about the other situations. It’s an inevitable conversation, and it’s happening now. Whether you take part in it or nibble at the edges is up to you.

  22. Great case study! Thanks for sharing the truth about Yext and their proverbial hogwash. I have used them in the past and had some great results, but its a shame if they cannot provide a permanent non-subscription model for business owers.

  23. I do SEO and I use Yext but if you want anything personalized or comprehensive completed concerning your web-wide NAP done you have to use Nyagoslav Zhekov or Whitespark . . .Nyagoslav and Whitespark are Yext on Steroids….

  24. Yext salespersons act like it’s “no big deal” to cancel anytime. Thanks for clearing this up.

  25. Wow – this should be considered a criminal offense. If I hire a marketing firm or SEO company or even a web developer and I pay for their services, I OWN IT. Money for service. The product is the ownership of the person who purchased it unless there an upfront and full disclosure of any vendor copyrights or intellectual property associated with the work. Is this the case here? Terminating or deleting or claiming ownership of work in this case is just flat out wrong. This is basic business 101. This is a very dangerous business model and it won’t last very long. People are not going to fall for this crap….and funny because I was going to call them today. Not anymore. I’ll just do it myself thanks. Great article – you got to love consumer activism and consumer rights.

  26. We just discovered that Yext does NOT direct traffic to YOUR website, but instead creates a MIRROR SITE that is identical to your site, and directs traffic THERE.

    Our URL is http://www.thewildiris.net

    But as you can see, Yext has created a mirror site at URL http://www.thewildiris.net/?Yext=55-2513AA without our permission.
    When I try to address this to the staff, i get the run around.

    Now it is time to find all Yext users and start a class action….

  27. I just read the whole topic. I did not understand everything but for sure Yext is a criminal in their misleading sales pitches. It happen to me: I paid them for one year and after that without notification they renew for another year taking $ 500 from my credit card unauthorized. After I confronted them they canceled my subscription and most of my listing went back to the old/wrong info. Does anybody knows how I can correct my listing information by myself? I am not by any means that knowledgeable to figure out that by myself. I will greatly appreciate any help!

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