Moz Local Listings 15 Months after Cancelling: Where Are They Now?

About a year ago I wrapped up a simple test on Moz Local (the paid version): do Moz Local-controlled listings disappear if you cancel?  No, from what I can tell.  I had tracked the listings for for an ex-client, and 3 months after cancelling they were still up.

I did that post in October of 2016.  Since then, some commentators on that post and other astute people have asked me, “Where are they now?”

Here’s a snapshot of how they looked a little over a year ago, 3 months after cancelling:

And here’s a snapshot of the listings for the same business now, almost 15 months after cancelling:

None of the important listings has disappeared in the past year, from what I can see.

In the name of “trust but verify,” I just checked those listing manually.  You might notice the gray bar on the left, representing important InfoGroup.  Turns out that listing IS up still (that discrepancy between the 2016 and 2017 snapshots is just a hiccup on Moz’s end).  The unimportant HotFrog listing may have disappeared, though.

What’s interesting is that some of the “enhanced data” that Darren Shaw in his comment thought might get stripped out did in fact seem to disappear into the ether.  The LocalEze and SuperPages listings no longer display the business’s website URL.  Though I’m interested to know whether those listings or other listings decay a little more 2 or 3 years after the fact, I probably won’t do another follow-up post on it.  I don’t want this to become like the 14th KISS “Farewell” tour.

It seems to be as Jim Stob in his comments said: accurate listings for valid businesses stick around.  Their shelf life is at least that of Chef Boyardee, and perhaps even equal to that of a Slim Jim.

Moz Local is a good service in many cases, particularly for new businesses or new locations of a business.  It’s a low-cost and low-effort way to thin the herd of listings you need to wrangle.  If your listings on sites in Moz’s network went up (or got fixed) without much trouble, I suggest keeping it around.

Still, if for whatever reason you cancel it, your listings should stay up – though you should reclaim those listings manually and re-add any additional info (e.g. your site URL) that might have gone missing.

Any questions?  First-hand experience with cancelling?  Leave a comment!

Juiciest Comments from the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey

https://www.flickr.com/photos/haquintero/14694249897/

The annual Local Search Ranking Factors study is always a pleasure to contribute to, and even more so to read.  The numbers and charts that reflect local search geeks’ experience are more than worth the effort to read (and re-read), but the comments are where most of the forehead-slapper insights go to party together.

Darren Shaw (who ran the survey for the first time this year and did a killer job) received 33 pages of comments from the contributors.  I’m guessing most or all of those 33 pages made it into the survey, toward the end.

It’s all fascinating stuff, but even the comments alone are a lot to digest.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex_griffiths/3422913005/

That’s why I’ve rounded up some favorites.  They’re comments that either reflected what I’ve found to be true of local SEO, or that told me something new.  I’ve put in bold the parts I think have the most boom.  In some cases, I’ve also included links to relevant posts – which weren’t in the original comments – as well as my own comments on the comments 🙂

I’m confident you’ll get usable insights out of them, and make your local SEO strategy a little better as a result.

Anyway, here are my 16 favorite  Local Search Ranking Factors 2017 comments, presented in the order in which they appeared in the survey:

 

“It’s a very difficult concept to survey about, but the overriding ranking factor in local — across both pack and organic results — is entity authority. Ask yourself, “If I were Google, how would I define a local entity, and once I did, how would I rank it relative to others?” and you’ll have the underlying algorithmic logic for at least the next decade.

  • How widely known is the entity? Especially locally, but oh man, if it’s nationally known, searchers should REALLY know about it.
  • What are people saying about the entity? (It should probably rank for similar phrases.)
  • What is the engagement with the entity? Do people recognize it when they see it in search results? How many Gmail users read its newsletter? How many call or visit it after seeing it in search results? How many visit its location?”

David Mihm

Here’s how I often put it to clients and others: Google wants to know that your business is what you claim it is, and that customers do business with you and live to say good things about it.

 

“Businesses have to get the table stakes right. After that, it seems to be all about local relevant links. We are seeing a lot more sites that rank with lower quantities of higher-quality (read: local and industry-relevant) links. Even sites with very few pages and limited content still seem to win with enough quality links.”

Gyi Tsakalakis

Suggested reading: “One-Time Work vs. Ongoing Work in Local SEO.”

 

“Without a doubt, the biggest changes in local search during the last year have been associated with the Possum update. However, this algorithm update didn’t really affect in a major way the core factors everyone should focus their SEO efforts on, but rather improved the quality of Google’s local search results. At the same time, this update would hopefully curb the very negative practice of businesses setting up virtual offices (or using outright fake addresses) if their physical address is not near the centroid of the major city they want to rank for. Proximity of business to point of search (or to user) has been a factor whose inclusion in the LSRF I first suggested in 2012. It only made sense that Google would decrease the value of the “proximity to centroid” factor in their algorithm and at the same time would increase the value of the “proximity to user” factor.”

Nyagoslav Zhekov

 

“One of the greatest competitive difference-makers, especially if you are in a notoriously spam-filled industry, is developing an ongoing strategy to actively monitor and combat spam. I have worked with businesses that had more than seven spam GMB listings ahead of them in ranking; after having them removed (because they were totally fake listings), the business I was working with shot up in ranking to the first page. But this strategy needs to be ongoing. It will often feel like you are playing whack-a-mole, but it is a necessary part of any modern local SEO strategy. It’s also one of the few tactics that you can perform that has an immediate ranking boost (once the spam is removed).”

Colan Nielsen

Don’t hesitate to do “suggest an edit” edits.  They won’t all be approved, but many times Google will apply them.  Here’s a great guide.

 

“A clean citation profile at the major data aggregators and tier 1 sources remains essential. Beyond that, there’s no sense in paying for a bunch of weak sites that never rank on page one and get virtually zero traffic.  But citations won’t move the needle; they’re table stakes. Think of them as the basic molecule of the organism that is your local entity.”

David Mihm

 

“I think there is a huge difference when it comes to citation building between sites that need it and those that don’t. Businesses that need citation work are those which have moved addresses, changed phone numbers, bought another business, etc. The root of the need is that information is mismatched, and will need work to correct.  Established businesses that have made little to no changes over the course of their existence really don’t need much citation work. Optimizing listings is great to try and improve conversion rates (click-to-call, driving directions, leave a review), but it’s not going to move the needle as much, so time is better spent elsewhere.”

Eric Rohrback

Suggested reading: “Do You Really Need to Clean up That Local Citation?

 

“Spend 80% of your time on competitive difference-makers and 20% of your time on foundational factors. In competitive SERPs, foundational factors are the ticket to entry. That’s not to say that they’re not important; it’s just that everyone is getting better at implementing them. If you want to rank, you have to find ways do what your competitors aren’t doing or can’t do. Use your business’ competitive advantages in your local search marketing strategies.”

Gyi Tsakalakis

 

“I think in the coming years, the SEO agencies and consultants that are going to be able to get real results for their clients are going to be the ones that don’t follow a cookie-cutter approach. It’s no longer good enough to follow the standard checklist of items to optimize your listing and then expect it to rank well. Google is going to continue to make it more difficult for one company to dominate the search results. As they do this, it’s going to take a lot more effort and strategy for businesses to remain on top. I think it’s going to be crucial for businesses to have not just a local strategy, but an organic one as well that involves having people actually see their content and bringing in other mediums like Facebook and Twitter. I also think backlinks are more important than ever and getting links outside of the standard citation-building will continue to make an impact in ranking.”

Joy Hawkins

 

“As part of your local SEO audits, and — to a lesser extent but still important — as part of your ongoing strategy, you need to be auditing all the other businesses that exist at the same address as your client’s business. Google is filtering business’ GMB listings in situations where there are multiple businesses with the same category at the same address. Develop a system for auditing this, and do whatever you can to ensure that Google chooses not to filter your client’s business over the others.”

Colan Nielsen

 

“…Possum hasn’t impacted my approach to local SEO at all, other than to tell people affected by Possum that they shouldn’t have put all of their eggs in the local SEO basket in the first place. If you breathlessly await each Google update with bated breath, you’re doing it wrong.”

David Mihm

Suggested reading: “Local SEO without the Local Map: What Is It?”  Also, work on your non-Google ways of rustling up customers – including some offline strategies, preferably.

 

“Links continue to be a strong factor for success in organic and local search results. In our experience, just a few high-quality targeted links can move the needle if you’re earning them to the page your Google My Business page is attached to. For businesses with a single location this seems to be the homepage pretty often, but for multi-location businesses it can get a bit trickier.”

Casey Meraz

Suggested reading: “Your Google Places Landing Page: Homepage or City-Specific?

 

“Google will continue to find ways to keep people from leaving Google as much as possible, so expect your organic traffic to decline in the coming years. Stop thinking of your website as a destination, and start thinking of it as a data feed. Utilize Schema.org and JSON-LD as much as possible to highlight important information on your website.”

Cori Graft

You’ve got to impress would-be customers before they even get to your site, to the extent they make it to your site at all.  As I often say, local SEO isn’t just about your site vs. your competitors’ sites; it’s also about your reputation vs. their reputation.  Cori was talking more about getting rich snippets to show up, though.  Here’s a great example.

 

“Google is headed toward making us pay for more clicks. My guess is that we are likely to see instances in which as many as the first five spots on Google are paid results (i.e. four AdWords ads and a paid local pack listing). We have seen instances in which the average click-through rate for a Google My Business listing that maintains an average position of 1.2 is less than 1%. Don’t overly rely on local pack positions for business. Diversify your Internet marketing strategies across channels. Measure the effectiveness in terms of goals and conversions, as opposed to impressions and rankings.”

Gyi Tsakalakis

 

“You can try to game the search results all you want, but if your business is consistently getting bad reviews, you have other issues to worry about. Focus on fixing any core problems in your business so that your clients want to talk about you. SEO experts can’t help you much if there are underlying issues preventing your business from thriving.”

Casey Meraz

 

“I think that local search is going to start getting shaken up as more and more brands start investing in local search. SMBs should be wary that lots of brands haven’t tried to flex their muscle in the local search space, and when they do they can potentially change the impact of an entire vertical. The ability to leverage technical SEO through internal links, widgets, and cross-linking pockets of large sites also can have a huge impact on a brand’s search presence while not costing an arm and a leg. This means that SMBs need to leverage their agility and ability to execute quickly to gain some traction in their local markets before the landscape gets too crowded. Especially with how Google seems to favor brands, and the huge positive impact that powerful organic SEO can have in local pack rankings.”

Dan Leibson

Most big companies are incompetent and disorganized at online marketing as a result of organizational bloat, but I agree with Dan insofar as some big companies “get it” and execute.  Those are the ones to worry about and to start outworking now.

 

“If I could drive home one topic in 2017 for local business owners, it would surround everything relating to reviews. This would include rating, consumer sentiment, velocity, authenticity, and owner responses, both on third-party platforms and native website reviews/testimonials pages. The influence of reviews is enormous; I have come to see them as almost as powerful as the NAP on your citations. NAP must be accurate for rankings and consumer direction, but reviews sell.”

Miriam Ellis

As I often say, rankings without reviews are a big waste.

What’s your favorite comment from the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors?

What’s a comment you wish the writer would clarify or expand on?

Leave a comment!

Cancelled Moz Local: How Many Listings Still Stand?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rinses/4794547760/

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!

Do You Really Need a Facebook Page for Each Location of Your Business?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecastro/4936469618/

Last year a client of mine with multiple locations asked me whether she really needed to bother creating a Facebook page for each location.  She wanted to have just the mothership page, for her flagship location.  Simpler.  Less hassle.

Less benefit, too.

I suggested creating a Facebook page for all locations (which we did), and mothballed away my long answer for the next person who asked.

Then the question came up again on Google+.  I offered a chopped-down answer there, but figured it was time to release the director’s cut.

Here’s why you should have a Facebook page for every location of your business (or at least for the locations you care about):

1.  Customers want and expect to find a Facebook page for the location nearest them.

2.  Google is more likely to show the Facebook page for your nearest location when would-be customers people in that area search for you by name. People in NYC see your NYC page, people in New Jersey see your Jersey page, etc. – even if they type exactly the same thing into Google.  Google is pretty location-sensitive, and your strategy shouldn’t be any less so.

3.  It’s an excellent “barnacle SEO” opportunity.

4.  People don’t want to feel like they’re working with a satellite office, or with “corporate.”

5.  You’ll have a chance at ranking well in Facebook – which is important to the extent that would-be customers go there and actually use Facebook’s search box to find what they’re looking for. Most people don’t do that, but you want to be visible to the ones who do.

6.  It’s another place to get reviews, and a mighty important one at that. You don’t want only your “flagship” location to have Facebook reviews.

7.  Want to use Moz Local? For verification and anti-spam purposes, it requires you to have a Facebook page or a Google My Business page for each location you want to load into Moz Local.  Now, the tool isn’t always good at verifying you by looking at your Google page (for instance, you’ll run into problems if your address is hidden).  That’s when your Facebook page may come in handy.  Belt and suspenders.

8.  It’s a good local citation.

9.  Even you don’t create a Facebook page for a given location, one might be auto-generated for you anyway. If Factual gets it meathooks on your local-business data, it will feed that data to Facebook, which will pump out an “unofficial” page.  You may or may not want that page, which may or may not even have the correct info on your business.

10.  Wouldn’t you want the option of posting content that’s specific to one local market or the other? Rather than generic piffle that everybody’s supposed to like but that nobody really likes.

11.  You don’t even have to spend time being active on all your Facebook pages (or any of them, for that matter). It’s nice if you do, but not essential.  The page just needs to exist, if only for the people who expect to find it, and as a vessel for reviews.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/evenkolder/16555476280/

 

12.  It’s quick and easy to create each page. Don’t do it if you have a good reason that I didn’t address, but don’t skip it out of laziness.

13.  You can always set up “Locations,” if you want what Facebook used to call a parent-child structure between your “main” page and your pages for specific locations. Here’s a great guide on Facebook “Locations” from Sweet IQ.

Can you think of reasons I didn’t mention?

Any arguments against creating a Facebook page for each location?

Leave a comment!

Quick Initial Review of Moz Local Insights (Beta)

Moz Local has come a long way in the last 20 months.  It’s a handy option for getting some of your most-important listings up and running, especially for new businesses.

It isn’t a one-stop shop for all your citation needs – nor is it meant to be – but it can often eliminate serious legwork.  It’s affordable ($84 / location / year, as of this writing.)  I often recommend it.

David Mihm just announced some new features – called Moz Local Insights.  It’s a combination of 3 dashboards that show you stats on where your business falls in the local heap.

It’s a beta release, so my initial take is probably what you’d expect: there’s a lot of promise in these new features, but they need some work.  (That’s true of any beta release.)

This post isn’t meant to be an exhaustive review, but rather just my lab notes so far.  I may add updates as I notice new things in Moz Local Insights.

Anyway, let’s go through the three new tabs, one at a time:

 

 

 

Update 11/14/15: The “Performance” area is working for me now – as a result of either Moz’s fixes or my realizing a couple senior moments I’d had, or both.

I can’t say yet what I think of the “Performance” area, because I couldn’t get it to connect with my Google Analytics accounts (where I’ve got most of my clients’ GA dashboards).

Here’s a screenshot I nabbed from David’s announcement post, just to show you what the “Performance” tab should look like:

It appears to be a slick custom Google Analytics dashboard, essentially.  Although geeks like me find it fun to sift through GA data, clients often don’t, so I think this will add value there.

It would be nice if Moz Local could attribute clicks you got as a result of your Google Places 3-pack rankings, if you’re using a tracking URL to track that stuff.

 

 

 

You’ll probably want to play around in the “Visibility” tab.  By default, Moz Local will track the categories you specified as the keywords you want to track.

The search terms you want to rank for are probably pretty different from the categories you want Moz Local to use for your various listings.  That’s why it would be nice if they sent you an email or showed a pop-up that says “Hey, update your keywords!”  (I hope you can track more than 5 of them in version 2.0.)

Maybe they emphasize that step more if you’re setting up Moz Local for a given business for the first time; I set up my clients in there pre-Insights.

The bottom line is: be sure to click that “Add and Manage Keywords” and update your keywords before you do much else in the “Visibility” tab.

 

 

 

 

The “Reputation” tab doesn’t seem to reflect accurately (yet) how many reviews the business has, and where it’s got those reviews.

Here’s one example of a client who’s got reviews on a bunch of sites, including several that show up on page one when you search for him by name:

But here’s what Moz Local shows:

The “Reputation” tab has a nice, clean layout, so I think it will be useful as a reporting tool that clients can easily log into.

At that point it won’t be too different from the Google My Business reviews dashboard, but of course the issues with Google’s dashboard are (1) many clients can’t figure out how to get in there, and (2) with Google’s new interface it’s gotten even less intuitive.  That this will be under the same roof as Moz Local’s other reporting features is nice.

One add-on I’d like to see in here is the ability to export your reviews: the text, the ratings, the reviewers’ names, where the reviews were written, when they were written – the whole burrito.  (There’s an ORM tool out there that has this export feature, but I can’t remember which one.  ReviewTrackers gives you that ability.  Thanks to Darren for reminding me.)

An export would be a handy feature partly so your reviews don’t go poof if they’re filtered or otherwise lost, and partly so it’s easy to mark them up with Schema and put them on your site (yes, even on Google+ and Yelp that’s OK).

In a nutshell: Moz has some work to do, but I like where “Insights” is headed.

What do you think of it so far?

Have you left them feedback on the beta version yet?

Leave a comment!