What Happens When You Sign Up for Yext?
This post is part 2 of a 2-part series:
- What Happens When You Cancel Yext?
- What Happens When You Sign Up for Yext? (this post)
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about what happens when one cancels Yext. However, that may have seemed backwards, because in order to cancel a Yext subscription, one must first sign up for Yext. Thus, I decided to explore what happens when a business signs up for Yext.
Susan Staupe was very kind to offer a client of hers as the test subject for this research. The client is a personal injury attorney in New York: Proner & Proner. This industry and the city where the business is located is enough to make any local SEO professional shudder, so we decided that it was the perfect case for our research.
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)
Inconsistencies Were Fixed
Listings Were Already Correct
Listings Reported as “Processing” by Yext
Brand New Listings Were Created
Sites Where Inconsistencies/Duplicates Remain*
- Apple Maps
*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)
- eLocal (*2)
- iBegin (*1)
- SwitchBoard (*1)
- Whitepages (*1)
- Yahoo! Local
(*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
Sites Where New Listings Were Created
Sites Where Listings Were Processing
- CredibilityReview (D&B)
- Facebook *
- Google *
- 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
- 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:
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:
Yext created this brand new duplicate listing.
This listing was updated by the Superpages mirror.
And this incorrect listing was left on the site.
Yext found and corrected this listing.
But left this listing with the incorrect # and URL on the site.
And this one with the same inconsistencies.
And here’s a duplicate they didn’t remove.
And here’s another duplicate they didn’t remove.
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:
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.
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. That is why we recommend the following to everyone that works on citation clean-up:
- 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.
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.