Cancelled Moz Local: How Many Listings Still Stand?

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Moz Local is a great tool.  I use it for a number of my clients, and often suggest it to others.  Having correct listings on the “local” sites that matter is a crucial one-time step if you want to improve your local rankings.

No tool is a silver bullet to create or fix all your listings.  Moz Local is no exception.  But it can save you some time and heartache, because typically it takes care of a handful of important listings that can be a pain for you to create or fix manually.

It’s just $99/year, so you’re probably not itching to cancel it.

But what if you do cancel, for whatever reason?

What happens to your listings?  Do they just go poof?

No, based what I’ve observed.  It seems any Moz Local-created listings stick around for at least 90 days, and probably much longer. (I’ll update this when I see how much longer.)

That’s the short answer.  If all you want to know is whether you need to scramble to work on your citations immediately after cancelling Moz Local, you’ve got your answer.  No need to read on.

Or, if you want more detail, in a minute you can read about the micro-study I did on this.

Some context

As you may know, Moz Local creates and fixes listings programmatically.  People aren’t doing it for you.  Moz Local has an API relationship with the local directories and other sites in its network, which is what allows it to publish or fix your listings on those sites for you, and in some cases to remove duplicate or incorrect listings that you don’t want.

That’s also why Moz doesn’t make any promises that your listings will stay up if you cancel Moz Local.  You could have created free listings on the sites in Moz’s network if you wanted to, but you opted to save yourself at least a couple hours of hassle and pay $99/year (a good call in most cases, in my opinion).  What you’re paying for mainly is Moz’s partnership with the various “local” sites.  Moz still has to pay them even if you cancel.  In effect, you’ve chosen to license your listings.

Long way of saying that if you cancel Moz Local, Moz will “release” control your listings.  At that point it’s up to each individual site what to do with your listing(s) in its directory.

I wanted to see how that actually plays out, so I did a little experiment.

The story behind the experiment

I don’t often have occasion to cancel a Moz Local subscription.  It’s only been around since March of 2014.  When I set it up for a client (not all of them), typically the client is with me for many months or for years.  Sometimes I set it up in my Moz account, or sometimes in theirs, depending on their preference.

Anyway, 3 months ago I did have the rare occasion to cancel Moz Local.  I’d set it up for a client in August of 2015.  We worked together for a couple of months, until he went on a long hunting trip that made it tough to do some steps that required teamwork.  (I suppose I could have done the aimless busywork that most SEO companies bill for, and continued to bill the guy until it cut into his ammo fund.)

His business hadn’t been online at all before we started working together.  The paint was still drying on his site.  As part of our broader work on local SEO, my helpers and I did some manual citation-building for him – on the sites that matter that Moz Local can’t reach.  That happened at the same time we set up Moz Local.  He didn’t have any listings on the sites in Moz Local’s network.  When they went up, they went up because of Moz Local.

My client still had 11 months left on his Moz Local subscription.  When renewal approached, I asked if he wanted to keep it around.  Never heard back.  So I took note of how many of his Moz Local-controlled listings were up and running before I cancelled, and then I cancelled.

The experiment

The cancellation was on July 24 of 2016.  Here, you can see my spreadsheet on the status of the Moz Local-controlled listings a few minutes before I cancelled:

Those listings were the same as they’d been 10 months before.  Didn’t lose any or gain any that Moz Local couldn’t create or update (e.g. Factual).

I checked the listings again on August 23, 30 days after I cancelled.  No difference.

Checked ‘em again on September 22, about a month ago.  Still there.

90 days after cancellation, on October 22 (a couple days ago) I checked them again.

 

The listings that were up when I cancelled are still up 3 months after I cancelled.

Conclusions

There were and still are a couple stragglers that never did get squared away, but my point is nothing has changed: The listings didn’t disappear.  You sign up for Moz Local to have it take care of listings on PITA sites like Acxiom, LocalEze, and CitySearch.  In this case, those listings went live without problems, and didn’t go up in smoke once I cancelled.

Now, this was a micro-study on only one case.  I’d say it was a telling case, because the business didn’t have any listings on Moz Local-controlled sites before we signed up.  We started with a clean slate: no duplicate listings, or existing listings that Moz Local had to fix.  Pretty clear before-and-after picture.

Just the same, I’ll keep an eye on what happens to the listings from here, and I’d like to see the results of a similar mini-experiment on a business in a different situation.  There are a few things I still don’t know:

  • Will the same listings still be up a year from now?
  • Did our manual citation-building (on sites not in Moz’s network) in any way make Moz Local-partnered sites more likely to keep listings around after cancellation?
  • If you use Moz Local to suppress duplicate listings, do those listings just pop up once you’ve cancelled? (I’m confident they would, and it’s just a question of when).
  • Will the correct listings remain up for a business that had “messy” listings (incorrect and duplicate listings) before signing up?

Moz Local’s very good FAQ gives some insights into those questions, and I have some theories, but it’s always good to see how things play out in the real world.

No matter what, Moz Local (or any other tool) should be only a part of your strategy to get your local listings built and fixed.  You also need to work on other sites Moz Local doesn’t reach, as well as on “niche” citation sources.

Have you ever cancelled Moz Local?  If so, what happened to your listings?

Any cancellation-related questions I didn’t address?

Leave a comment!

Lipstick on a Pig: Google Places “Report a Problem” Requests Now Rejected Even Faster

A couple days ago, Colan of Imprezzio Marketing reported that the next-to-useless “Report a problem” feature in Google Places had been revamped.  I was excited.

After all, Google made it easier to specify what problems a listing has, which in theory makes it easier for Google to clean up the local results.

My excitement was premature.  In the wee hours last night – when only muggers and cats are awake – I flagged down a Google Places page that belongs to a dentist who’s no longer practicing at that location.

80 minutes later my edit was rejected.  It used to take the stiffs at Google a whole day to make a bad decision.  I guess on one level I appreciate the speedy verdict.

So I tried another angle – which maybe I should have tried from the get-go.  I told them the name of the page isn’t compliant with Google’s new rules (which it isn’t):

Two-and-a-half hours later they rejected the edit.  Even though I cited Google’s own guidelines to explain why the name of the listing needed to change.

Sure, Google has made the “Report a Problem” interface nicer, but the real problem remains: Google’s crowdsourcing approach to quality-control has failed.  Legitimate edits and reports don’t get approved.

Between Google’s doubling-down on outsourcing “support” and its recent shortening of those call-center hours, there’s little reason to believe Google will get serious about data-quality any time soon.

My #1 Local Citations Tip: Do Another Round

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A recent conversation with my LocalSpark amigos Darren and Nyagoslav got me to thinking:

Yes, there are dozens of things to remember do when working on your citations.  I offered 43 bits of advice in my giant post on citations from a year ago.

But you don’t want all the details – major and minor – to get in the way of one crucial step.  It’s perhaps the only practice that makes building or fixing your citations less daunting, and more likely to get completed.

It is:

Do at least one follow-up round of work on your citations.

Do it 30-90 days after the first occasion you work on them.

Better yet: do a third round of work a month or two after the second.

That’s it.  If you’re no stranger to citations, you probably know what follow-up work would involve.  But if you’d like a little more explanation, just read on.

 

Why do follow-up work on citations?

  • Because some of your listings or edits probably didn’t stick after the first attempt.
  • Because the remaining listings are probably on the tougher sites, which usually also means they’re the listings that Google really trusts.
  • Because you probably can (and always should) fill out more info on your current listings – like any fields labeled “Services,” “Description,” “Keywords,” and especially your categories.

  • Because you may stumble across more sites where you should list your business.

 

What to do, exactly?

You’re doing 5 main things:

1.  You’re checking the sites you’ve already submitted to, to make sure they published your info correctly.  To the extent they haven’t, you’re resubmitting your edits, or trying again to claim your listing, or whatever the situation seems to dictate.

2.  You’re checking on any listings that you tried to remove before, to make sure they’ve actually been removed.  If they haven’t been removed, make your request again.  You may also need to see where those sites are getting their (mis)information in the first place – if there’s an “upstream” problem.

3.  You’re bulking up any citations that only have your basic info.  Again, you’ll want to fill out as many fields as possible – especially the ones where you have the chance to describe your services in more detail.  Until very recently, Google would scrape those fields and put the relevant services MapMaker custom categories.  It’s likely they still use that info in some way.

4.  You’re taking another pass at finding more citation sources.

 

Fine, but how do you fix up the citations?

Read this superb post by Casey Meraz.

 

Which sites most need double-checking?

Yelp, YellowPages, ExpressUpdate, and Acxiom – for starters.  In my experience, those are the most stubborn sites.

 

Why doesn’t everyone do follow-up work?

Because it’s extra work.

Even if people know that there’s still work to be done, it’s never a priority.  If the rankings are bad and it’s because of messy citations, it’ll usually take months for the fixes to count for anything.  And disheveled citations sure as heck aren’t a priority when rankings and spirits are high.

Also, most citation “builders” won’t bother, because it’s easier to bill you for the first several-dozen easy sites than for the 5-10 toughies.  (Sure, the tough sites usually require owner-verification, but someone’s at least got to tell that to the business owner.)

 

It’s part of a bigger strategy

Local SEO usually takes time – months – to bear fruit.  You need to start working on it before you’re starving for visibility and phone calls.  As I’ve written, the slower you can take it, the better.

If you try to get all your citations perfect in a sitting or even within a week, you’ll probably end up frustrated.  But if you revisit them every now and then as part of your long-term push, they’ll get as close to “done” as you can get.

The nice thing is that the more rounds of work you put into your citations, usually the less there is to do each time.

What’s your #1 tip on citations?

#1 frustration?

Any questions?

Leave a comment!