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What Happens When You Sign Up for Yext?

Business Details:

The business’s information footprint turned out to not be as messy as one would expect from a personal injury firm. Especially one that has been operating since 1958.

The NAP that we are working with is:

Business Name: Proner & Proner
Address: 60 E 42nd St, Suite 1448 New York, NY 10165
Phone: (212) 986 – 3030

We discovered that the business has been known as Proner & Proner (or derivative names) throughout most of its existence, with one significant name shift. Early on, the practice had been named “Stanley A Proner PC” (after Mr. Proner Senior) before the son, Mitchell Proner, joined in. The business had changed its physical location once in the past – from 305 Madison Ave, Ste 1448 to 60 E 42nd St, Ste 1448, both in NYC*. Additionally, we found out that the business had used 8 different phone numbers throughout its existence.

We discovered listings for three practitioners at the practice:

Allan Stanley Proner
Mitchell Laurence Proner
Tobi Rochford Salottolo

Usually, a practice-practitioner business like this would be even more messy to start with, due to each lawyer (or doctor, dentist, insurance agent, etc) having their own listing in addition to the practice itself. Thus, our expectations were that the success rate after the Yext subscription was activated would be relatively high.

*Note: Another location in NYC was discovered – at 220 E 65th St, Apt 10G. However, this location was not considered relevant to our research, so it was not included in the overall statistics reported below. It is important to mention that no listings for that location were affected in any way by the Yext subscription.

General Case Study Methodology

We performed a standard manual citation audit of the listings of the business that included all of the sites officially in Yext’s network (at the time of working on the research). Then, we signed the business up for Yext, waited a week, and did another audit to see what happened to the listings.
We obtained a standard information intake form from Susan, which featured up-to-date information about the business, as well as information about the business that might have been used in the past. The past information included the names of the 2 main practitioners, as well as 2 call-tracking phone numbers.

Timeline of the Research

May 30, 2016: we completed a detailed citation audit on the most important citation sources and all the sites in Yext’s network
June 15, 2016: the Yext subscription was started
June 20, 2016: we completed another round of citation audit on the same citation sources
Summary of Results

After completing the final citation audit one week after the Yext subscription was started, the following changes were observed:
Success rate of fixing listings on the 56 sites within Yext’s network:
(the other 12 are mobile apps or GPS systems)
EVENT
TOTAL SITES
Inconsistencies/Duplicates Remain
19 sites
Inconsistencies Were Fixed
15 sites
Listings Were Already Correct
10 sites
Listings Reported as “Processing” by Yext
5 sites
Brand New Listings Were Created
7 sites

Sites Where Inconsistencies/Duplicates Remain*

2FindLocal
AmericanTowns
Apple Maps
CitySquares
Cylex-USA
DexKnows
EzLocal
Foursquare
GetFave
InsiderPages
MerchantCircle
Pointcom
ShowMeLocal
SuperPages
USCity.net
YellopageCity.com
Yellowise
YellowpagesGoesGreen
Yelp

*Note: Yext has a duplicate detection and removal feature, but it’s only available to enterprises and agency partners. While our study points out that duplicates remain, it’s important to note that Yext’s service for SMBs doesn’t claim to identify or clean up duplicates. It’s just not part of the service.

Sites Where Inconsistencies Were “Fixed”

411.com (*1)
ABLocal
AlloneSearch
BizWiki
Brownbook
eLocal (*2)
GoLocal247
iBegin (*1)
InternetChamberOfCommerce
MapQuest
Opendi
SwitchBoard (*1)
Whitepages (*1)
Yahoo! Local
Yasabe
(*1) – On 411, iBegin, Switchboard, and Whitepages, there was already a correct listing on the site before signing up for Yext, but Yext just deleted it and created a new listing instead. The end result was that these sites had one correct listing for the business and no duplicates, but it’s interesting to note their methodology on these sites. If the original citation URLs were indexed and aged, they won’t be now. Hopefully Google will pick up the new citation URLS and index them.

(*2) – on eLocal there was an existing incorrect listing. Rather than syncing with it and fixing it, Yext simply deleted/suppressed it and made a new listing. The end result was still that there was one and only one listing on this site with correct information, but again, the potential concern about losing the indexation of the previous citation URLs. The ideal approach would have been to sync with the existing listing and update it.
Sites Where Listings Were Already Correct

Bing
ChamberOfCommerce
CitySearch
Credibility.com
Factual
LocalDatabase
LocalStack
Tupalo
VoteForTheBest
Yellowbot
Sites Where New Listings Were Created

8Coupons
iGlobal
LocalPages
MyLocalServices
N49
Topix
Yalwa
Sites Where Listings Were Processing

CredibilityReview (D&B)
Facebook *
Google *
Local.com
Nokia Here
* Google and Facebook: in order for Yext to update listings on Google and Facebook, you need to connect them in your Yext dashboard. We never did this, so it is understandable that they’re still processing, and we can make no claims about Yext’s ability on these sites.
* Mobile Apps/GPS Systems Excluded from Study

AirYell
AroundMe
Avantar
CityMaps
CoPilot
Navmii
Soleo
Telenav
TomTom
Waze
WhereTo?
White & Yellow Pages

Note: mobile apps and GPS systems were removed from the audit research because they’re not citations. There are no citation URLs to audit on these platforms. We are only looking at this study from the perspective of citation cleanup.

Analysis of Results

So, in this particular case study, a Yext subscription solved citation problems on 15 citation sites in Yext’s network, and out of those 15 sites, only 7 are part of our list of Top 50 Citation Sites in the US. We recognize that we can’t help but be biased to our list, but it’s based off a stringent selection process and it’s not restricted by any kind of partnership or API agreements. It’s simply the best sites we know of for citations in the US. Of course, we must exclude Google and Facebook from consideration since we didn’t connect them in the Yext dashboard.

While there are other benefits to using Yext, (near-instant updates, featured messages, enhanced info, review monitoring), if you’re using it primarily as a citation cleanup solution, paying almost $500 per year, every year, for this level of cleanup, especially on a service that doesn’t include the primary data aggregators, it doesn’t seem like a good investment to us.
Overview of Listings That Were Not Taken Care of

While it is important to estimate the value of a Yext subscription in terms of citation clean-up, it is also equally important to try to understand the issues with Yext and why their system of dealing with listings is flawed as it currently stands. Below are a few patterns of issues that were discovered during the post-subscription citation audit:

Duplicate Listings

In 2014, Yext launched a “Duplicate Suppression” add-on feature for Yext PowerListings, acknowledging the great importance of having duplicate listings dealt with. However, this feature appears to be available only to certain clients, and it was certainly not available in the Proner & Proner case. With Yext’s standard system, duplicate listings are completely neglected. Of the 46 identified duplicate listings, 0 were dealt with as a direct result of the Yext subscription. This is by far the most major problem with Yext’s service, and really calls into question Yext’s claim on their sign-up page to “Fix your local search listings everywhere”.

Examples of the missed duplicate listings:
AmericanTowns.com
Yext created this brand new duplicate listing.

This listing was updated by the Superpages mirror.

And this incorrect listing was left on the site.

Insider Pages

Yext found and corrected this listing. But left this listing with the incorrect # and URL on the site.

Ignored listings

As it was noted above, 5 listings were reported as “Processing”. These listings are on some of the most important sites, such as Google itself, Facebook, D&B (a data aggregator), and Nokia’s Here.

Additionally, none of the discovered 11 practitioner listings were dealt with in any way. This is easily explainable, though – the Yext service covers only 1 listing per site, which is an important downside for businesses that tend to have more than 1 listing per site such as law firms and accounting firms (a listing for the practice, and a listing for each practitioner), medical, dental and chiropractic practices, insurance agencies, and real estate agencies.
Examples of listings that were ignored:

Yelp

Yext reports that they can’t update the Yelp listing because it’s marked as closed.

There is a closed listing, but Yext missed their actual active listing which has the wrong phone number.

Listings That Were Reported as Changed by Yext, But Were Not

In some cases Yext’s reports featured incorrect information about some listings – something that was also observed during the “What Happens when You Cancel Yext” research. For instance, Yext would report that a listing has been changed, but when you click through and go to the listing page, you could clearly see that the listing still features incorrect information. It is likely that this problem derives from how Yext’s system is connected to the databases of each of the sites in their network. It is possible that there might be bugs in this connection, or it is possible that the information about when listing changes go live is not available to Yext in real time. In any case, the fact is that Yext sometimes misreports, so it is important that if you decide to use their service, you double-check everything manually.

Apple Maps

Searching shows that there is only one listing on Apple Maps

Yext reports it as synced

But the phone number is still incorrect

Additional General Downsides of Yext

There are some additional features of Yext that are worth mentioning in the context of discussing signing up for Yext PowerListings.

A) Yext’s PowerListings Scan

In my opinion the most useful software of Yext is its free scanner. You can use it by going to Yext’s site and filling in the country, name, and phone number of your business. The scanner will display the listings that would normally be found and dealt with if you sign up for Yext PowerListings, so it is particularly useful as a pre-assessment of what a Yext subscription might be able to do for you. However, this software should be taken with a grain of salt for a few reasons:

The scanner discovers only 1 listing per site (i.e. doesn’t discover duplicates or practitioner listings, if such exist);
The scanner covers only the sites covered by Yext (i.e. doesn’t cover any of the data aggregators, as well as about 30% of the most important citation sources);
The scanner tends to misreport.

This last issue is important to explain. In some cases Yext is unable to find already existing listings. That is the main reason why in some cases Yext would create new listings instead of fixing already existing incorrect listings (8 such listings were created in our research example). Additionally, it is possible that your listings might be 100% accurate, but the Yext scanner would report that the optimization rate is lower, because the listings are “not standing out” and/or “not verified through Yext”. Obviously this means that the only way for one to achieve a 100% optimization rate using the Yext scanner would be if they are signed up for Yext.

B) Yext spam

It is difficult to determine how many cold calls Yext sales people give to each business that claims a listing on some of the sites within their network or on sites that resell Yext’s services, but it is safe to say that an average business would receive at least a few such calls per month. We have more direct observations on the email inboxes of email accounts through which we have claimed listings for our clients on some of the sites within their network or on sites that resell Yext’s services.

These email accounts become practically unusable for any meaningful work after we finish working on a citation clean-up for a client, because of the large number of unsolicited sales emails by Yext and Yext re-sellers that start flooding the inboxes of these accounts. When you manually create listings on the top 50 most important citation sources, you can expect receive around 3 to 5 such emails per week from various senders.

Use a new email address when claiming listings that will not be used for anything else, because that email’s inbox will be heavily spammed;
Add “@yextoffers.com” to the spam filter of that email address if you would prefer not to receive those sales emails (or at least most of them, because some are sent by resellers whose accounts are under other domains).

C) Sites that are completely controlled by Yext

In the past few years, more and more business directories have sold their listings management business to Yext. While it is likely financially savvy from the business directories’ point of view, it is definitely a major PITA for businesses who want to see their listings rectified and don’t want to have to pay for that to happen. In fact, it doesn’t make sense for a business to have to pay for their business information to be rectified as it is in the business directory’s best interest to provide accurate and up-to-date information to its users. It is the other way round – the business directories need to pay for high quality and up-to-date information and that is what they do when they purchase business data from data aggregators, whose sole purpose is to collect and update business information.

Therefore, there is a natural discrepancy between the function and natural business model of a business directory and the fact that a user would be forced to subscribe to a paid, yearly-renewed, ongoing listings management service. Some of the most prominent business directories that fall into that category are Yahoo! Local, MapQuest, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, and Local.com.
Download the Audit Spreadsheet

You can download the detailed before and after citation audits in Excel by clicking on the image below. Please note that the client did not want to leave their listings incorrect and leave duplicates around the local search ecosystem, so we have since completed a comprehensive audit and cleanup up for them.

Conclusion

Does Yext really “Fix all your local search listings” as they claim on their sign up page? This case study shows that there are some holes in that claim. The service is missing the primary data aggregators and many other important key sites, it misses many listings that need to be fixed, and leaves a number of problems on the sites within its network.

As with the article on what happens when you cancel your Yext subscription, the conclusion is that you might want to think carefully before signing up for Yext in the first place. The service is suitable for some types of businesses and some types of situations (for instance, brand-new businesses with no online footprint, or enterprises with thousands of locations), but it might be equally unsuitable in other cases.

Does paying an expensive annually recurring fee for this level of business listing “fixing” make sense for you? We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Yext in the comments below.

What Happens When You Cancel Yext?

Citations continue to be the bane of the existence of digital marketing agencies and businesses alike. The heavily manual and time-consuming character of the work have been the main problems people encounter when trying to resolve local citation related issues. Citation inconsistency has been cited as both the most commonly encountered issue affecting local search rankings, and a foundational element of local SEO. This is one of the main reasons why automated solutions have been popular in the industry ever since the era of UBL. However, most (if not all) of the automated solutions suffer from a few shortcomings that are difficult to resolve in a non-manual manner. A few examples of when automated solutions don’t do the best job include:

Messy citation footprint cases, the result of prior changes to the business name, business address, or business main phone number (or any combination of these);
Complicated cases with practice-practitioner types of businesses (lawyers, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, real estate agents, insurance agents).
We have observed these problems in countless cases we’ve worked on, and have found that automated solutions have a difficult time identifying and fixing citation problems in these situations. There has been relatively little empirical research published on the differences between manual and automated cleanup solutions, so in two separate articles we will publish the results of two case studies we completed on one of the most popular automated solutions – Yext.

This article focuses on what happens when a business cancels their Yext subscription after they have been subscribed to Yext for at least a few months. I completed a similar case study about 3 years ago, and I felt it was time to follow up and see what improvements and changes have since been integrated into the automated model. We offer citation services at Whitespark, and so naturally, we are going to be biased in our approach, but we have tried to be as empirical as possible with this case study. Our intention is to analyse the data and simply present the facts of this specific case.
Case Study Background Details

We were working with a chiropractor that had an active Yext subscription, but no longer needed it since we were undertaking a comprehensive manual audit and cleanup project. So, it was the perfect opportunity to do a detailed audit of the business’ citations before cancelling the Yext subscription, and again afterward, so that we could see the before and after, and understand how the listings changed when Yext was cancelled.

Business Name: West Knoxville Chiropractic
Address: 6311 Kingston Pike #28W, Knoxville, TN 37919
Phone: 865-287-5904
Case Study Timeline:

May 6, 2016: we completed a detailed citation audit on the most important citation sources
May 13, 2016: the Yext subscription expired
May 14, 2016: we completed another round of citation audit on the same citation sources
May 27, 2016: we completed a second post-expiry citation audit

Observations

Out of the 60 listings that Yext reported as synced during the active subscription, this is what we saw happen after the Yext subscription expired.
EVENT
TOTAL NUMBER OF LISTINGS
Disappeared Listings after Subscription
15
Incorrect Listings after Subscription
21
Still Synced or Manually Claimed Correct Listings
3
Unsynced and Non-Claimed Correct Listings
21

At first glance, it looks like the above results are saying that that 40% (21+3 out of 60) of the listings stayed correct after the subscription was canceled, 35% (21 listings) reverted back to an incorrect state, and 25% (15 listings) disappeared altogether. However, this is how the situation appears on the surface. There are a number of additional considerations to be taken into account when assessing what might have actually happened with the listings:

We do not have information on how the listings looked prior to the start of the Yext subscription.There is good reason to believe that the majority of the listings that stayed with the correct information (the 21 listings reported in the table above), but have not been visibly manually claimed or synced via Yext, have in fact reverted back to how they were prior to Yext subscription’s start. In other words, these listings might have been correct even before the business signed up for Yext. The main reason for this belief is that those listings have been stripped off of all the additional details that normally come from Yext, such as business description, working hours, images and videos, although in a few cases part of these additional details were still available on some listings.
When the subscription is canceled, some listings do not get unsynced from Yext immediately, or they unsync just partially (i.e. they still show up as Yext PowerListings, but some of the information changes or disappears). That is why we completed one round of citation audit immediately after the cancellation and another round of citation audit 2 weeks later. However, even after 2 weeks some of the listings hadn’t been unsynced.
It is also important to note that Yext’s report, which we exported directly from Yext’s dashboard prior to the expiry of the subscription, featured a number of inconsistencies with what was discovered during manual check-up.
Additional Observations and Considerations

#1. There were two listings on Local.com that were Yext synchronized. The two listings were available here and here. Only one of them (the one that is still live) was included in the report. Based on the fact that the first listing disappeared after the subscription was canceled, and the fact that a “yx” sub-directory is included in the URL, it is safe to say that the listing was created by Yext. This means that Yext created a duplicate listing for an already existing listing they knew about (because it was included in their report) – something which Yext has previously claimed is untrue.

#2. A Bing Places listing that was included in the report as a Yext PowerListing featured an incorrect phone number:

#3. There was a correct, manually claimed Yelp listing available, but Yext didn’t find it and instead included an incorrect listing (that was not corrected during the subscription) in their report.

The URL of the listing from the report is:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/nathan-e-leavitt-dc-knoxville-2

The URL to the correct listing is:
https://www.yelp.com/biz/west-knoxville-chiropractic-knoxville-2

#4. A listing on Tupalo was included in Yext’s report as a Yext PowerListing and had the Yext PowerListings badge on the live listing itself, but it featured incorrect information:

#5. A listing on ChamberofCommerce that didn’t even exist was included in the Yext report. However, it must be mentioned that a note was added in the report stating that “Your PowerListing is not available on this partner because the partner has reported that you are a paid advertiser with them directly.” A similar thing was observed with a LocalDatabase listing that featured incorrect information, but was included in the report with the same note as the ChamberofCommerce listing.

#6. Some listings that were not Yext PowerListings listings, but indeed featured accurate business information, had been included in Yext’s report without additional notes For example, a listing on Facebook that had been manually claimed by the business.

#7. A “Google My Business” listing and a “Waze” record were reported as “Processing” in Yext’s report, although it had been months after the subscription had been started when the report was exported.

#8. No URLs were given in Yext’s report for listings or records on the following platforms:

Apple Maps,
Factual,
Google My Business,
Nokia (assuming Here WeGo),
Soleo,
Telenav,
TomTom, and
Waze.

Practice-Practitioner Business

This case study is interesting for another reason, too – it is for a chiropractic business, which means that Yext’s inability to deal with “practice-practitioner” listings was observed.

31 listings for the practitioner at the practice – Dr Nathan Leavitt, were discovered on the sites within Yext’s network. None of these listings were affected in any way by either the subscription while it was running, or by the cancellation. In other words, they were not associated by Yext with the business in any way.
Supporting Data

We want you to be able to verify the results for yourself, so here’s the raw data:

Spreadsheet with before and after listing data.
Screenshots of all listings before and after Yext expiry. (We completed additional manual citation clean-up AFTER the Yext subscription was canceled, so if you look at the listing URLs right now, they will be different than what we saw after cancelling Yext. Hence, the screenshots.)
Summary of Our Observations When You Cancel Yext

60% of the listings disappeared or started featuring incorrect information after the subscription was canceled.
Of the other 40% that remained accurate:
35% were stripped partially or fully of any enhanced details (and they might have already been accurate before signing up for Yext).
Only 3 listings (5%) remained accurate and featured enhanced details, but of them 2 listings had been manually claimed before the Yext subscription had been started.
There was incorrect and incomplete reporting of the listings synced with Yext PowerListings while the subscription was live;
No effect (positive or negative) on practitioner listings while the subscription was live;

While this case study was focused on what happens to your listings when you cancel Yext, it also reveals some of the weaknesses of Yext’s automated platform. Stay tuned next week when we’ll be publishing another case study where we look at what happens when you take a business with a messy citation profile and sign it up for Yext. We’ll analyze how well they do with their claim to “Fix Your Listings Everywhere”.

Sources:
https://whitespark.ca/blog/what-happens-when-you-sign-up-for-yext/
https://whitespark.ca/blog/what-happens-when-you-cancel-yext/

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