What Happens When You Cancel Yext?

This post is part 1 of a 2-part series:

  1. What Happens When You Cancel Yext? (this post)
  2. What Happens When You Sign Up for 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Spreadsheet with before and after listing data.
  2. 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”.

Have you ever cancelled a Yext subscription and looked at the before and after of the citation profile? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Also, don’t miss part 2 of this series: What Happens When You Sign Up for Yext? 

AUTHOR

Nyagoslav Zhekov

Nyagoslav is the Director of Local Search at Whitespark. He has been in the local search industry since 2010. Nyagoslav has been cited on Search Engine Land, David Mihm's blog, Local SEO Guide, and has presented at SMX West.

Follow Me on Twitter
  • Dia

    This is truly eye opening, It shows a lot of holes in Yext’s platform, as well as a codependence element the program sort of inspires. If you sign up for Yext then cancel it a year later your have to worry about starting over from scratch. Curious to see how a test like this would go for Moz or Bright Local.

  • Ben Wright

    This further validates my thoughts on how Yext works. Thanks for publishing your research. I assume after the 2 weeks, you’re going to begin the manual citation cleanup, right? If not, I’d be curious to see what the same listings look like 4-5 weeks after cancellation.

    • Hi Ben, we have already done a manual citation clean-up, because the observations on this case study took place a few months ago. However, based on my observations with this and other cases, almost no additional changes occur after the first couple of weeks after the cancellation.

  • Interesting, thanks for posting this. I’m interested to see what Yext has to say about it.

  • I primarily make all of my citation changes manually, claiming each site personally in the process. One thing I have run into are sites that seem to either be generated by Yext or require you to go through Yext in order to make any changes or to even claim your listing on their site. What are one’s options when dealing with sites like these – assuming you want to avoid Yext and do all citation work yourself manually?

  • Tony W

    Interesting study, thanks for the post. I’m wondering if, after using Yext for a couple years, and cleaning up and establishing good citation data everywhere, the entire ecosystem would be more likely to have good data. In other words, I would expect the directories to now have access to more accurate data, such that after canceling Yext, your citation profile might still look good. Not necessarily because of Yext (though possibly), simply because good data has had time to permeate the system. This assumes you’ve done at least some other work besides Yext (e.g., aggregators). In such a case, Yext would sort of be “buying you time” to clean things up. That’s my theory, anyways. Haven’t tried it yet 🙂

  • I would be interested to see a similar case study where you sign up for Yext for a year, but also claim and optimize the businesses listings with primary data providers; at least LocalEze, InfoUSA and Acxiom. Maybe Factual too. We have always knows that Yext is a bandaid, or short term fix for a longer term solution. The idea is – by claiming and optimizing (at least) primary data providers – if the decision is made to leave Yext (or perhaps another agency takes over) you give plenty of time for the data providers to ‘trickle down’ and populate the listings on many/most of the sites that Yext controls.

  • Watermark

    Fascinating read! Thanks for publishing. Accurate local listings have always been an issue for both us and our clients Always great to learn what is and isn’t working.

  • Lana Phillips

    We loved this article so we did our own… got very similar results! Check em out: https://www.brightoak.com/blog/what-happens-to-your-citations-website-after-you-cancel-yext/