What If Yext Gobbles up More Local Directories?

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Yext has formed tight partnerships with some notable directories in recent years: MapQuest, InsiderPages, and CitySearch, among other bigger sites (and some rinky-dink ones).

The core feature of Yext’s “PowerListings” offering is that you can standardize your business info on a bunch of local directories (AKA “publishers”) at once.  On some of those sites Yext is one of several ways to update your info.  On other sites it’s now the only way to update or add a listing – which is what I’m referring to when I say Yext has “gobbled up” a site.

The number of sites Yext has partnered with – in some cases exclusively – has been growing.  (To the dismay of some.)

Does the expanding Yext network mean trouble for business owners and local SEOs?


Yext users (especially at the enterprise level) will continue to save time to one degree or another on their citation-work.  But the basics of local SEO won’t be changed in any significant way – for the worse or for the better.

Here’s why I say Yext’s expansion won’t hurt you:

  1. All the sites that matter will maintain manual / free ways to add or edit your listing, or at least they’ll keep sourcing their data from places where you can control your business info. They’ll want to continue to collect business info in the way they’ve always collected it, and not limit their sources of fresh info to what’s in Yext’s pipeline.  They’ll want to keep growing their data-assets.
  1. Major industry-specific directories (e.g. HealthGrades, Avvo, etc.) seem less likely to partner with Yext, at least in large numbers. They wouldn’t be applicable to every Yext user, and some of them require proof of license if you want to claim your listing.  You’ll always be able to fix up your listings on industry sites.
  1. I’m guessing Google starts devaluing a citation source once it stops building its database of local businesses organically. The info gets stale and limited (at least for businesses that aren’t using Yext).
  1. As Andrew Shotland said recently, there’s plenty of room for competing services.
  1. Organic and behavioral factors will continue to influence your rankings more than citations do. (I’m talking about qualities like having tons of info about your services on your site, a few good links, and more and better reviews than your competitors have.)

The only people who might be harmed by Yext’s expansion are the ones who will sign up because they think it’s a silver bullet for rankings, or even that it will fix all their citations.  It won’t do either of those things, although Yext does work as promised on the sites in its network, and that can be valuable.

Yext’s marketing people don’t do enough to correct the “silver bullet” misconception, but some business owners (and lots of local SEOs) don’t do their due-diligence, or they just don’t know what they need.  The marketing question remains a gray area.

I totally understand why many business owners and local SEOs let out a sigh every time Yext gobbles up a directory.  But if all the sites where you want to work on your citations are Yext-exclusive, you’re focusing on the wrong sites.  (See this.)

Yext’s expansion is not a good thing or a bad thing for your local-visibility efforts, in the grand scheme.  Yext is a nice time-saver in certain situations.  It’s simply a tool that’s available to you.

Business owners who want or need to take the manual approach will always be just fine.  Especially because those are the sorts of people who realize that citations are just one aspect of local SEO, and are willing to work on the tough stuff.

What do you think happens if Yext’s network continues to grow?  Any points I overlooked?

Leave a comment!


  1. We were Yext “Premium Partners” for over a year. At the outset, Yext would (presumably) create a new listing on the sites within their stable of directories. Could be a problem with established businesses with dupes so we used them primarily with new clients that were relatively new businesses so there was little, if any, dupe issues. Still, the “traction” we expected from 56+ citation sources never took hold.

    With one such client this past January, after 90+ days a citation audit returned only nine citations for the company name, 19 for the business phone number and 25 sources (including MapQuest, eLocal, MetroPCS) with nothing. I became somewhat skeptical of the value of client listings via Yext at this point so dropped my “partnership” and focused on building citations the “old fashioned way”.

    Another similar client’s rankings were horrible, until we dropped Yext. Then 45 days later their rankings blasted off. Sure, we had done a LOT of citation building during that time. But where was Yext’s contribution to the effort?

    I was recently disheartened also when I went into InfoUSA/Express Update, a big and always reliable aggregator, and after entering basic NAP info was presented with the classic Yext splash screen. Yes, I was still able to create the listing but had several more hoops to jump through than in the past.

    I get it. Yext is a business. I run one also. But when a service provider, including myself, fails to execute or show tangible results, they deserve to be fired. Not rewarded with anointment by reliable data sources.

    • In the first case you described, did you supply a Yext support rep with the incorrect phone numbers, addresses, and name variations, and ask them to squash duplicates? It’s unclear to me whether that was a case of serious mess – where Yext might have taken care of a set of listings in its network, but not all the others.

      Also, are we talking a manual citation audit, or a free scan of some kind?

  2. I never got into Yext. I hit a point where I was to decide between Moz local and Yext, and I chose Moz local (doesn’t cost as much, and Moz has always been great to me).

    Just curious, for a person using Moz local, would you recommend building citations while Moz is working its magic? Would you even recommend Moz local? Do you have a post on this? 🙂

    P.S. I wrote an article that featured your website recently 🙂 I listed ya as a top resource for learning local SEO 😀

  3. Howdy,

    I’ve been a Yext Certified Partner for several years and I’ve also tried Moz Local for several clients to get the aggregators not included in my Yext subscriptions (Yext does provide an enhanced subscription with the aggregators). I also use Get Five Stars for collecting reviews. Here’s why I like Yext:
    1. I’ve noticed no negative impacts on clients. Yext helps ensure that the NAP is consistent for each client and when client business information changes, it’s easy for me to push that information out to the 50+ associated listings. All of my clients are doing well for their main keywords both organically and in Google Packs.
    2. Yext provides a backup review monitoring and analysis functionality. All of my clients have very active review collection programs through Get Five Stars, and Yext helps ensure that positive and negative reviews don’t slip in unnoticed.
    3. Yext provides some nice extra features like product, bio and event pages for Facebook pages linked to Yext. For a childcare center client, we could send the summer camp schedule to Yext and Yext entered the daily event information for us at no charge. That feature alone was worth the subscription.

    I like the improved Moz Local interface, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue those subscriptions or upgrade to the Plus Aggregators subscriptions at Yext as my clients renew.


  4. Phil,

    I usually don’t talk bad of other companies… and I’m SURE Yext is a fine company… but I must tell you … there tactics are QUITE spammy and obtrusive. If you simply enter your information into their local search ranking tool, they will SPAM you to death and put you on a call list that is absolutely uncalled for. They even have gone so far as to send each solicitation under a different name and email address EACH TIME! This is most likely to get around your adding their previous email addresses to your black list.

    Because of this reason alone, I can’t bring myself to do business with them and have instead opted to use Moz Local and BrightLocal. Again, I completely understand aggressive marketing… but this goes BEYOND that…. Just my 2 cents, spend it wisely =0)

  5. The back door into claiming CitySearch listings by phone: https://signup.citygrid.com/verification/new

  6. I have heard that using yext will hurt rankings. Is that just a myth?

    • I would say it’s a myth. Maybe if Yext is pushing different NAP info from what you’re using on Google Places – maybe. But that’s just dumb SEO-ing, and not Yext’s shortcoming.

      My general advice is not to expect Yext to help or to hurt your rankings.

      • I feel pretty sure Yext hurt my rankings. I had work on citations manually for over a year, and was at 87% score on Yext. And my ranking had been steady for several months before i finally decided to try Yext. Within a few days or week I dropped one spot. I realize competitors could have improved but I was monitoring their citations. I just don’t think that was the cause. I am now trying to decide whether to cancel within 30 days to get a refund. Of course they tell me that things will improve in a few months. My fears now are that Yext might actually help if I give it time and/or dropping Yext at this point will create dupes that didn’t exist before. Any thoughts on those two questions?

        • I’ve never seen a case where Yext hurt rankings that wouldn’t have nosedived anyway. One reason is that citations are only one part of your local rankings. The businesses with the most / cleanest citations usually isn’t the one that ranks best. Even if Yext could create/fix all the listings that matter – which it cannot – a hit in rankings isn’t Yext’s doing.

          Beyond that, I don’t know anything about your situation, so unless we book a formal consultation I can’t tell you whether it’s worth keeping Yext in this case.

          • I strongly disagree. I now have no doubt Yext hurt my business a lot. And I discourage anyone from trying Yext. I was doing very well without them, with unique descriptions built myself. I discourage any business from using Yext. I am very well educated on local, including taking many courses, closely following forums, closely following local packs for numerous searches over the past several years, and manually submitted listings myself. Everything had been going very well until I added Yext. My site is very well optimized for local. Nothing else went wrong. It was Yext — I have no doubt whatsoever. Now I am just hoping and praying that I can remove myself from Yext without causing dupes. What a nightmare. Avoid Yext like the plague. Manual submissions perform better, especially if they each have unique descriptions. What a complete nightmare.

          • Then why did you ask?

  7. People/Companies have limited resources. Remember “The Law of Diminishing Returns?” There’s a plethora of search marketing tasks you can do – they key is you have to start with the ones with the highest potential ROI, then work your way down. We all know there are a few “key” citation sources like Google+, Bing Places, Yelp, etc. There are the properties that drive actual significant traffic for search intent. While it can be argued that these other second-tier directories are not completely insignificant, how significant are they?

    The reason I bring this up is that it seems to me one of the most important factors in evaluating local citiation submission and management services, is not just how well they do it, but WHO are their partners? Ideally you would have a complete ranked list of all directory sites ordered by potential positive influence on your business and then compare Yext, to Localexe, to Express Update, to Moz Local regarding who partners with the most properties on highest up the list!

    Some say there is no “silver bullet” service. I think there is, but no one has done a detailed comprehensive comparative study determine which service is the best “silver bullet”. Yes, no one is going to cover ALL directories. But in reality I’d say the potential significant impact on your business of being listed in 90%+ of most directories is virtually insignificant. Long gone are the days where being listed on DMOZ was critical to your search rankings. But there’s not hard data out there for anyone to prove their argument one way or the other. It’s just common sense though that a lot of the directories simply exist to sell advertising to business owners that think their directory still matters. These are also the same people with a stack of yellow pages books in the cabinet under their rotary dial telephone. LOL.

  8. Hey Phil. Last I checked comments help your site rank well. So, just a suggestion, but you really might want to reconsider not having real discussions with those who comment, rather than just trying to sell them on your product, and then giving snide remakes (“then why did you ask?”). If I wanted to pay someone to handle my local SEO, then obviously I wouldn’t be reading your blog. Still readers and those who comment on your blog should be treated with respect.

    • I’m simply mindful of time. Also, I didn’t understand why you asked a question (a good and reasonable one), got my honest answer, and then argued with my answer without even acknowledging any of the points I raised. Rather than argue with my good-faith feedback, you could have just said “Hey Phil, thanks for the feedback, but let’s agree to disagree.”

      Please read through some of the thousands of other comments on this blog. I give out plenty of free advice there – to say nothing of the blog posts themselves. And the tone is nothing if not respectful and civil.

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