State of the Most-Important Local Search Sites (Mid-2013)

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A lot has changed in the last few months in the world of local search.  All of it affects your efforts to get visible to local customers.

I’m not even talking about Google+ Local.  Like Oprah’s weight, Google is in a constant state of flux.  Phone support, the carousel, the return of review stars…it’s a roller coaster.

Rather, I’m talking about other sites and search engines.  They’ve been under the blade.  Some have emerged from the operating room with nice facelifts.  Others elicit a “Yeecch!”

If you run a “local” business in the US, you’ll need to deal with all of the below sites – either because they’re popular sites in their own right, or because they can affect your Google rankings .  Here’s what you need to know about how they’ve changed recently:

 

 

Yes, it’s now called “Bing Places.”  The recent changes have mostly been cosmetic, although there have been a few small improvements.  The thing that jarred me recently was that Bing required a client of mine to phone-verify a listing on which we wanted to change the phone number.  I don’t recall ever having to do that before.  Bing seems to have new rules for when you can verify by postcard versus by phone.  (Update: Thanks to always-sharp Nyagoslav Zhekov for the Bing intel in his comment at the bottom of this post.)

 

 

Some months ago (I’m not sure exactly when), Yahoo spruced up its listing-manager area a little bit.  Aside from that, Yahoo still is its clunky old self – and probably clunkier than ever.  But you still need to wrangle with Yahoo, so you’re visible to that sliver of that population that prefers it.

 

 

Revamped and renamed in June.  ExpressUpdate now requires business owners to claim their listings by phone personally.  Let’s say you added your business to the site a year ago (or had someone else do it), claimed your listing, and have been happy ever since.  Now let’s say you need to update one bit of info on your listing.  Your old login won’t work.  You have to look up your listing, claim it by phone, and wait for ExpressUpdate to approve you and give you new login info.  Then you can make changes.

 

 

You can’t add a free listing to LocalEze, as of April.  If you want to add your listing for the first time, you need to pay $300/year, find a reseller who can sign you up for less, or wait until LocalEze gets fed your business info from other sites.  If you already have a listing on LocalEze and you need to fix some of the info, you can make one round of edits per year for free.

 

 

Still an obstacle course (as I wrote a year ago).  If you want to add your listing for the first time, you can either email the CitySearch folks at myaccount@citygridmedia.com, or you’ll have to wait until the site is fed your listing from ExpressUpdate.  Once your listing is added – or if it’s already on the site – you’ll need to claim it by phone at https://signup.citygrid.com/cyb/find_business.

You’ll want to keep in mind that CitySearch’s parent company recently laid off two-thirds of its staff, and that any step in the whole process I just described might be slow as a result.

Honorable mention goes to Local.BOTW.org.  It’s not as important as the above sites, but it’s a good citation to have.  It’s no longer free.  (Maybe that will make it a really good citation to have, in the way David Mihm described 5 years ago.)

Instead of offering the free “JumpStart” listing, in June they started asking for a whole $1.99 per month, if you aren’t already listed on BOTW Local and want to add your listing.  Old listings have been grandfathered in.

Other important sites – Yelp, YP, SuperPages, etc. – are the same as they’ve always been.  No changes to report at the moment.

Anything you’d like to add about any of those sites?  Any questions?  Leave a comment.

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Comments

  1. Hey Phil,

    That’s a great overview! One thing I wanted to point out to is that actually, fortunately, Bing still offers postcard verification. You could check here: https://www.bingplaces.com/Home/MoreFAQ#Verification . And as the help article states – the verification postcard seems to indeed be sent via first class mail, because they do arrive much, much faster than any other verification postcards. I recently had to verify a few hundred Bing listings, and at the same time had to verify a few hundred Yahoo listings. Bing postcards started arriving 3-4 days after that, and the Yahoo ones – just 3 weeks later…

    Express Update is in a serious mess ever since they moved to the new platform. I admit I did like them before, but the move was done very not-gently.

    • Thanks, Nyagoslav! I appreciate the intel. (I’ve tweaked the Bing section of this post accordingly.)

      It would have been nice if ExpressUpdate at least grandfathered in the old logins that business owners / SEOs had created, even if EU requires them to reclaim their listings.

      • Sure thing, Phil. The piece was already awesome anyway!

        Just for a moment there I thought “What?! The EU has requirements for reclaiming listings??”, where “EU” = European Union. I guess I am as used to using this abbreviation when referring to the union almost as much as many Americans are used to using “US” to refer to the United States. I’ve seen a number of cases where capitalized US (as in “not them, but US”) was mistakenly read as US (United States).

        Did I also mention that this just made my day: “like Oprah’s weight, Google is in a constant state of flux”?

        • Yeah, I sometimes abbreviate “ExpressUpdate” to EU – which probably isn’t a good idea. Just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

          No disrespect to Oprah…she’s brilliant, but just needs to pick a weight :)

    • Very timely post, Phil. We actually posted something similar to this on our blog recently, focusing on the major changes taking place with Localeze and EU (I use it all the time!). It would have been very nice had EU grandfathered in listings.
      http://foundationseo.com/recent-online-directory-changes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=recent-online-directory-changes
      I also wanted to comment on Bing verifications. Thanks Nyagoslav for the link, but unfortunately extraneous circumstances can arise. Recently we had to verify a Bing listing. The only option provided was telephone, but the client had an automated number. In these cases, an email from the web domain needs to be sent to Bing.support to verify the listing.

      • Thanks for commenting, Adam. I covered the LocalEze developments in April and the ExpressUpdate issues in June.

        I agree that it sure would have been grand if ExpressUpdate would have grandfathered in listings.

    • Oh wait, I see, you’re only writing about what’s new at the top sources, and maybe nothing is too new at Acxiom. The listing manager I linked to is somewhat new I think. Not sure when they released it.

      • Hey Darren,

        Thanks. Yeah, I know Acxiom’s listing manager was down for a while a month or two ago, presumably while they were making some changes to it. And I do see the message on MBLM: “If you have previously registered an account at mybusinesslistingmanager.com prior to June 10th, you will need to click on the log in button and click the forgotten password link to reset your password.”

        Wondering if anything else has changed there…

  2. Excellent post Phil. Great overview on the up and up. Thanks for this.

  3. Yahoo Local is a mess. I’ve had several clients lose all the mail in their Yahoo email accounts during a forced password change and other Yahoo email accounts have been shuttered due to inactivity. Control of the business listings in accounts using these email addresses was lost. Inaccurate and semi-duplicate listing are widespread. Support for free local listings is only available via a form, now and several paths lead to dead ends. Is it even possible to submit to Yahoo anymore without using Yext?

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mary. If Google last year was a “train wreck” (to quote Mike), Yahoo is a multi-car pileup. I know Yahoo is/was in the process of purging some old listings, but who knows if that will really reduce the amount of junk. As far as I know, you can still submit a free listing. But I’d defer to Nyagoslav on that point.

  4. Phil, great update! Thank you. What are the most important citations to establish for a company that is in Toronto and serves the entire Toronto metro area? They don’t serve the US at all. Appreciate your help on this.
    Larry

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