A thought to self: “I value honesty highly. Probably higher than almost everything. Unfortunately, this virtue is rarity nowadays.”
A few months ago (August 2013), I wrote an article named “What Actually Happens When One Cancels Yext“. It was based on a case study I conducted about the consequences of canceling a Yext PowerListings subscription. In that article, I also promised that I would be following up with the results of a manual citations clean-up I would complete in order to fix the mess left after Yext (you could see the state of the citation profile of the business in the original article).
Fast-forwarding to January 2014. I am now part of Whitespark. Howard Lerman (CEO of Yext) mentions to Darren Shaw (Owner of Whitespark -> my employer) that “Yext did a waaaay better job fixing listings than Nyagoslav”. A few days later Howard also decides to post publicly something that is, let’s call it, slightly exaggerated:
— Howard Lerman (@howard) February 12, 2021
He also decides to comment on the blog post with the case study. Then I realized that it was about time (and the only way) for me to explain publicly what happened with the Dawson Family of Faith case study.
Chronology of Events
Spencer Belkofer of Lumen Interactive contacted me in late July 2013 to ask me for help with cleaning up the mess left after he unsubscribed one of his clients - Dawson Family of Faith, from Yext PowerListings. Spencer was disturbed by the fact that the service was not what it promised to be, and after about a month, and numerous disappointments, he canceled the subscription.
- August 13:
I officially started work on the clean-up (again, you can see all the details about the mess that was left after Yext’s cancelation in my post from August).
- August 19:
Almost all the clean-up work has been finished. As some of the listings had been claimed manually by the church (or by Spencer), and some of the listings needed different sorts of verifications, I sent an email to Spencer to ask him for help with obtaining this information (note: unfortunately, I didn’t have direct contact with Dawson Family of Faith, and they probably didn’t even know I existed).
- August 24:
This is the last time I received an email from Spencer.
- August 26, 2020 - January 30, 2014:
Tens of attempts to get in touch with Spencer. This included numerous emails in October, November, December, and January, as well as phone calls from December onwards. Some of the phone calls included leaving messages through the phone assistant service he has. Additionally, my emails and phone messages after October, included assurances that I do NOT want to get paid for the service (although I spent overall 50+ hours working on the case) and I just want to finish up everything.
- February 8, 2014:
First successful attempt for direct communication!!! However, it was not completed by me. When I realized Spencer was probably avoiding me (for whatever reason), I asked Darren Shaw to try to contact him. Spencer claimed that he had replied to me a number of times, and that he would send me another email in which he would carbon copy Darren. This was more than 2 weeks ago and neither me nor Darren have received any email from Spencer.
The Actual Job
As I mentioned, almost all the work had been completed by 19 August (6 days after the start of work). You could see the report (with passwords removed) below (Excel file):
General statistics on the completed work:
Total listings worked on: 150
Listings successfully worked on (listing updated, or duplicate removed): 93
Listings pending update: 25
Listings pending removal: 20
Listings awaiting help from client: 12
Here is what was the state of the citations immediately after Yext’s cancelation:
18 correct listings (none of them complete)
119 incorrect listings
25 duplicate listings
4 Yext “locked” listings
The main reasons why some listings are still pending are:
- Site is not managed by anyone (webmaster or site owner). For instance, Directority.com have the following in their footer: “(C) 2009-2012 DIRECTORITY.COM”.
- Site does not honour claims coming from generic email accounts (for instance, @gmail.com). An example in the report are the two not-removed duplicates on Bing.
- Technical issues with the site that do not allow for the normal claiming/updating process to be completed. In those cases, whenever possible, an email (or numerous emails) has been sent either directly via email, or through an online contact form, to request for updates. Such types of communication usually do not work for sites that have technical issues, because those sites usually fall into the first category above.
I learned important “citation clean-up” lessons from this experience:
- Never rely on your client to provide you what they promised to provide you. It is possible they won’t. Before you start any work with them, insist that they provide you all the necessary information for you to get going.
- Insist for email under company’s domain. Many citations cannot be claimed/updated/removed if you do not possess such an email. Sites such as Bing and ShowMeLocal rarely honour duplicate removal requests coming from generic email accounts (@gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com).
- Make specific arrangements for how phone verification will be completed PRIOR to starting work on any project.
What are your takeaways? What would you do in this case?