Do You Really Need to Clean up That Local Citation?

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Local SEOs excel at nitpicking, trading in superstitions, and billing for busywork.  Nowhere is that more true than when it’s time to clean up local citations.

You’ve got dozens (or hundreds) of local listings online, and not all of them have the correct business info.  You’ve heard it’s important to have correct and consistent info on those listings.

Do you have to take the time to fix all of them – or do you need to pay someone else to?

No.  Not all local listings matter.  Having the cleanest listings doesn’t mean you’ll outrank anyone or get any more customers.

The danger of going overboard on your listings is that you feel burned-out after doing a bunch of work that doesn’t matter, and don’t have the time or the energy or the will to do the steps that do matter.

When should you bother to correct or to remove a business listing on a given site?  If you answer yes to any of the following questions, go ahead and clean up the listing.  (Skip it if you can answer no to all of the following.)

1. Do you see the listing on the first page (or first couple of pages) of Google’s results when you search for your business by name?
If the incorrect or duplicate listing shows up prominently for a brand-name search, fix it or remove it.

2.  Do you see the site on the first page of Google’s results for a search term you want to rank for?
Maybe your incorrect YellowPages listing (for example) doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, but if YellowPages.com ranks for a local search term you care about, it’s worth bothering with your listing(s) there.

3.  Is it on InfoGroup, LocalEze, Acxiom, or Factual?
Google and other sites in the local-search ecosystem trust these four sites – known as “data aggregators” – as sources of accurate business info.  Make sure your listings there are accurate.

4.  Is it on a government site?
It’s likely that Google Maps and the data-aggregators (see point #3) trust the business info on government sites (e.g. State Secretary of State).  It may be a pain, but make sure your “official” record is accurate.

5.  Have you heard of the site?
If so, I’d fix it.  Unless it’s Yahoo.  Yahoo is for the birds.

6.  Do you have reviews on another listing on the site, or plan to ask for reviews on the site?
You don’t want customers to review the wrong listing.

7.  Has a customer ever seemed confused by info that’s on the listing?
Easily the best reason to fix or remove an incorrect listing.

8.  Is it clear that you can update the listing with relative ease, and for free?
If it’s controlled by Yext or otherwise requires you to pay to make any changes, I would say it’s not important to fix or to remove.

But let’s say it’s a free listing, and you can fix it or remove it easily if you want to.  Should you?  If it passes the other 7 tests I’ve described, I wouldn’t say you need to – at least not for citation-consistency purposes.  Do it if it’s just gnawing at you, and if fixing one won’t cause your OCD to flare up and compel you to fix 100 other rinky-dink listings.

Do you have a local listing you’re not sure whether to clean up?

Can you think of criteria for deciding when to bother with a listing vs. when to skip it?

Leave a comment!

Local Business Directory Support-Team Email Addresses: How to Reach a Human When You Need Help

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For reasons that may or may not have to do with local SEO, you need to fix your online listings.  Maybe you want to fix 50, or just one.

All these sites all make you jump through hoops.  You’ve done everything they’ve asked you to.  You’ve filled out their forms to submit new listings as directed, and to make fixes as directed.  You’ve waited.

That process has probably worked for most of your listings, but you’ve got stragglers.  Either the form’s broken, or you get an error message no matter what you do, or the changes don’t stick, or it’s been 5 months and they still haven’t processed your listing.

It’s time to bother a human.  Someone who works at the site.

That’s only fair.  You may only have a free listing and not pay the site directly for a primo listing, but they can only make money from ads if they have a business directory big or good enough to get them traffic, which they boast about in order to sell the ads.  Your business info is part of their directory, and therefore part of their sales pitch.  They owe it to you to make basic fixes to your listing, if they don’t give you the means to do it yourself.

But most of these places don’t give you an easy way to reach someone who can help.  (Hey, time is money.)  So how do you reach someone?

I’ve compiled a list of support-team emails for various local directories, search engines, and data-aggregators.

Many of these addresses my helpers and I have used successfully.  Others are for sites we’ve never needed to contact by email.  All should reach someone who can help you, or who will refer you to someone in a neighboring cubicle who can.

Please email wisely:

  • Use a domain email if at all possible (yourname@yourcompanysite.com). Consider setting up one, if you don’t already use it for your citations.
  • Be polite. Maybe you hate the yellowpages-type company, but the support rep didn’t do anything to you (and can always find a way to decline your request if you’re nasty).
  • Make it clear exactly what you want, so they can oblige you without wasting your time or theirs on back-and-forth.
  • Make it clear you’ve tried everything else, including the normal channels.
  • Don’t email them 5 times in a day because they didn’t get back to you within the hour.
  • If for some reason they can’t say yes to your request, ask how you can get your listing fixed.
  • If you have 75 locations, first ask how you should go about getting those listings fixed en masse.
  • Don’t email them constantly. If you pee in the pool, we’ll all have to get out (but might want to throw you back in).

Here are the support emails, from A to Z, for 21 sites you might be wrangling with:

Acxiom / MyBusinessListingManager email:
mblm@acxiom.com

Angie’s List emails:
angieslist@angieslist.com or memberservices@angieslist.com

Apple MapsConnect emails:
mapsconnect@apple.com or mapsconnect-business@apple.com

Bing Places email:
placesfeedback@microsoft.com

City-Data.com email:
errors@city-data.com

CitySearch / InsiderPages emails:
myaccount@citygridmedia.com or customerservice@citygrid.com

Cylex email:
info@cylex-usa.com

Factual email:
accounts@factual.com

Foursquare business email:
support@foursquare.com

InfoGroup / ExpressUpdate email:
contentfeedback@infogroup.com

LocalEze emails:
support@neustar.biz, support@localeze.com, or localezesupport@neustar.biz

Manta email:
help@manta.com

MapQuest email:
supportteam@mapquest.com

MerchantCircle emails :
toplevelsupport@merchantcircle.com or support@merchantcircle.com

ShowMeLocal email:
support@showmelocal.com

SuperPages & DexKnows email:
customerservice@supermedia.com

Yahoo Local email
listings-support@yahoo-inc.com
(If Yext won’t help you – and you’ve tried their free-fix method – you can email Yahoo.  We’ve had success in getting duplicates removed this way.)

Yellowbook emails:
team@hibubusiness.com or servicecenter@hibu.com

YellowBot email:
help@yellowbot.com

YellowPages emails:
ypcsupport@yp.com or customer.care@yp.com

Yelp Business email:
feedback@yelp.com

I don’t have a direct, non-phone-tree phone number for most of these (yet?).  If you also want non-email ways to contact some of these sites, here are a few great resources:

Be Where Your Customers Are with Local Business Listings – Max Minzer
(includes some phone numbers and extra detail)

Major Internet Business Directories – Mike Munter
(includes some phone numbers and extra detail)

Twitter Handles for Local Business Citation Sources – Bill Bean
(in case you want to try to get help via Twitter)

Thanks to Austin Lund for letting me know about some emails (see his comment).

Special thanks to Nyagoslav of Whitespark for telling me about a few emails I didn’t know about.  By the way, if the thought of fixing all your listings yourself makes you feel like Fred Sanford, consider hiring Whitespark to help clean up your citations.

Which sites have been helpful – or not helpful – when you’ve emailed them?

Any email addresses you’re still looking for?

Any emails I’m missing?

Leave a comment!

Now You Can Fix Your Yahoo Local Listing without Paying for Yext

It appears that you can – once again – update your Yahoo Local listing for free, without having to sign up for Yext PowerListings.

Yahoo completely turned over listings-management duties to Yext last year.  Over the course of several years, Yahoo had gone from a viable (if second-fiddle) local search engine, to a broken one, to one that no longer even tried to offer correct or new results.  You’d only pay to correct your Yahoo listing if your NAP OCD caused you to lie awake at night, bug-eyed and sweating into your pillow.

But now there’s a workaround!

Because it’s near-impossible to find, clearly it’s there by design, rather than as a loophole that’s just asking to be glued shut.  Kenny Hodges of Scott Snyder Dump Truck Service emailed me this fresh intel, and explained how to do it:

Phil –

Due to what is most likely a lawsuit in the works, Yext has now added the option for us to just fix our Yahoo listings for free.

This is interesting information that came about from a sales call from Yext.

My uncle received a sales call from Yext and he proceeded to berate them about the fact that they were ‘holding his business listings hostage’. After 15 mins on the phone with the sales person, he was told that there ​IS ​a way to fix his business listings for free. Although he was not given any specific information about how to do it, he thought he would try again for the 30th time. Upon going through the process, he found that it had changed. Lots of information now needs to be filled out prior to seeing your scan with the new format.

Now when you finally get to the pricing schedule, you will find ​a new link, which is
the solution to the Yext stranglehold on Yahoo business listings. You DO need to make a Yext PowerListings account, AND verify that account through email, and agree to the terms. Yext PowerListings claims that even though it’s a free account, you will be in full control of your claimed Yahoo Business page. Prior to claiming your business you will need to find the proper Yahoo business categories through another source as there is no dropdown or multiple choice or suggestions.

Here are the basic steps to get to the “fix it for free” button:

1. Search local.yahoo.com for your business.

2. Hover your mouse over your business on the left. The results on the right are what you’re looking for.

3. Click on “verify your listing,” right under the name of your business, where it asks “is this your business?”

4. Yahoo/Yext PowerListings will open, where it will send you to a “free business listing scan.”

5. What you need to do is go through the entire process as if your are purchasing one of their plans. At the end, after you have entered all your information, just under the “packages” in very small print, it will offer a “just fix Yahoo for free” link.

That is how we were able to fix our listing on Yahoo for free, without paying Yext.

Kenny

It sure is buried.  After you fill out Yext’s form – as though you’re signing up – you’ll see the link if you scroll down and squint:

(Here’s that URL: https://www.yext.com/pl/yahoo-claims/free-claim-checkout.html)

Then you’ll see this screen:

Now just “check out.”  At this point, you should be done for the moment, and your edits should be under review by some combination of Yahoo / Yext people.  I don’t yet know how long those take to process.

You’ll immediately get an email from Yext, but it doesn’t appear to require any action on your part if you only want to fix Yahoo.

Nyagoslav tells me that Yahoo requires phone-verification before your edits go live.  I’m guessing there’s a second email that prompts you to verify, but I haven’t confirmed that yet.

Anyway, this is a good development.  I just wish the link wasn’t so buried.

Have you tried the free-fix on your Yahoo listing yet?  Run into any issues?

Leave a comment!

Which Local Citation Sources Offer Follow Links?

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Pretty much every local listing you create for your business lets you include a link to your website, so that it’s easy for visitors to learn more about you.  But most of those are nofollow links  – meaning Google’s not supposed to “count” them for or against your rankings.

Still, some sites don’t slap a “nofollow” attribute on their links.

I (with the help of my assistant, Danielle) have put together a list of the local-business and industry-specific directories where the links to your site technically count, to one degree or another.  We scoured my Definitive Citations List, plus a few additional sites.

As you might guess, some of these sites are more notable than others.  Some are prominent directories in a niche (e.g. WeddingWire), some represent a cause (e.g. GoGreenWebDirectory.com), and others might just be on your citation checklist anyway (e.g. Brownbook).  But other sites are pretty mediocre and no-name.

Why should you know about – or bother with – a list that includes some mediocre sites with mediocre links?

  • Mediocre “follow” links have their place in the world. In the early stages of a local SEO effort, they’re signs of life that Google might observe.  They might help you rank for the one obscure search term that gets you the one customer who helps keeps you in business for long enough that you can do RCS.
  • Again, some of the sites are pretty prominent, and you may want to get listed on them for non-SEO reasons.
  • In case for whatever reason you don’t want listings on local directories that offer follow links, you’ll want to know what those sites are.
  • Maybe you’re just a curious cat, like me.

This post hits on a sticky topic, so I’m going to make you read even more preamble before I get to the actual list:

  1. Don’t rely on any one type of link or one strategy to get links.
  1. Don’t expect these “follow” links to make a huge difference by themselves.
  1. Do realize that most of the links you’ll want to earn over time will take hard work.
  1. Do use your best judgment.

austin-powers-behave

Anyway, here are the general local-business directory sites that include a follow link when you create a listing:

2FindLocal.com

6QubeDirectory.com

Bizyhood.com

BrownBook.net

CBSYellowPages.com

Cylex (on request – see Imi’s comment)

DirectoryCentral.com

DiscoverOurTown.com

EventCrazy.com

GoGreenWebDirectory.com

IndependentWeStand.org

Infignos.com

Kudzu.com (sometimes)

Lacartes.com

LocalPages.com

Opendi.us

PegasusDirectory.com

SmartGuy.com

SocialRaves.com

TicketBud.com

USBDN.com

WherezIt.com

YellowOne.com

YelloYello.com

(Note that TicketBud.com and EventCrazy.com are sites you can publicize events on.  Now that can be a good way to earn links.)

Now for some industry-specific sites that offer a follow link.  Even if you ignore the first list (above), there’s a strong case to be made for these because many of them are (1) review sites and (2) have some visibility in Google. (FYI, some of these may be paid listings.)

AutoMD.com

AWDP.org

BailBond.com

CyberAtty.com

DealerRater.com

DoctorOogle.com

Frommers.com

GetMowed.com

HomeStars.com

Justia.com

LocalGranite.com

LuxuriousLandscapes.com

MenuPages.com

MyZipPlumbers.com

OpenTable.com

Sortfolio.com

SportsTavern.com

TheBestDesigns.com

TherapyNext.com

WeddingWire.com

Zagat.com

Other sites that offer follow links are “powered by Yext” – meaning probably the only way you can get a listing there and a link is to use Yext.  These sites include eLocal, Switchboard, Topix, WhitePages, Yellowise, and others.  As Dan Leibson has noted, there may be some value in those listings / links as well.  I didn’t include those.

Local Chambers of Commerce tend to offer follow links, too.

Great discussion here, by the way.

Do you know of any sites I missed?  Any that I should definitely remove?  (I’d love to keep this list up-to-date.)

To what extent do you agree with me that “mediocre links have their place in the world,” in the sense that they can help you get the ball rolling?

Other local-citation-link-related words of wisdom?

Leave a comment!

P.S.  Thanks to Tony Wang, Michael Doran, and Kathy Long for contributing to the list with their helpful comments, below.

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?

No.

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!

Local Search Wisdom from SearchLove Boston 2014

Darren’s talk yesterday on How to Prioritize Your Local Search Work was the most practical I’ve seen.  It was a peak among peaks at Distilled’s SearchLove conference.

Local SEO is filled with hocus pocus.  Even when people do work on important stuff, they often neglect some of the basics.  That’s because their priorities aren’t clear.

Problem solved:

Darren’s not one to read off the slide deck.  It’s packed with nuggets, but his talk itself covered even more.  Here are a few things that wouldn’t come through on the slides:

 1.  All the good advice that didn’t make the cut because it wasn’t must-do stuff.  Darren wanted to talk even more about reviews – which he cited as the highest-payoff part of local SEO (and I agree with that).

2.  How highly he recommends GetFiveStars and Moz Local.

3.  Darren gave a nice shout-out to Yext – in the context of it being handy for enterprise-level SEO.

4.  The handy cheat-sheet – which is easy to miss (on slide 90 of 99).

5.  How many questions Darren got during the Q&A and during breaks.  Local search is a pain-point for so many business owners, marketers, and SEOs.

What did you take away from the slides?

What are your local SEO “priorities”?

Questions?

Leave a comment!

RIP LocalEze Free Business Listings

Is your business listed on LocalEze.com?  I hope so: If you run a “local” business in the US, the site can indirectly help or hurt your local search rankings.

On a tight budget and want to list your business for free?  You’re out of luck.

As of just this month, LocalEze no longer allows businesses owners to add their listings to the site for free.

I’ve heard this from a couple of people now – including one of my clients and the guys from FireGang– which prompted me to go in and take a look for myself today.  I’ve come to the same conclusion.

Apparently, you can still claim your listing for free if it’s already listed on LocalEze (more on this in a minute).  It’s just that now you can’t add a listing (for free) that’s not already in the system.

I’m not wild about this change.

As I’ve written on several occasions, LocalEze is a very important site to list your business on if you want to rank well in the local search results – particularly in the Google+Local (AKA Google Places) results.  Being listed there and listed accurately is a huge step in making sure your citations are consistent.

I think the paid package is a good deal, but business owners shouldn’t have to fork over just to have basic control of their own business information.  Especially given how many other websites LocalEze feeds your business information to.

That’s what I know so far.  There are also some things I don’t know at this stage:

  • I’m wondering whether LocalEze will remain as important a data-provider, at least as far as Google’s local-search algorithm is concerned.  No doubt it will remain important, but the move toward pay-to-play ultimately may mean fewer businesses and less-fresh info in the database – which is the last thing Google (not to mention Apple Maps) needs at the moment.
  • If you’ve already got a claimed listing, can you only update it once annually (for free)?
  • Will (and should) LocalEze continue to appear in GetListed.org scans?
  • What will we be saying a year from now?

Anyway…

What should you do now?  At least one of four things:

  • Join me in pouring a fohty for the free listings.
  • If you’re listed on LocalEze and if you haven’t already claimed your listing, claim your listing while you still can do so for free.
  • If you’re not listed and you’re not on a particularly tight budget, consider adding your listing by forking over for the paid package ($297 / year).  You can also add and gain control of your listing if you’re on Yext (which I believe is $397 / year for a single-location “small” business).
  • If you’re not listed on LocalEze but you are on a restrictive budget, you can still get listed, but it’s going to take some work and patience.  You’ll have to list your business on pretty much all the other important directories (AKA “citation sources”).  LocalEze “trusts” some of these sites, and if your business is listed on the latter, it will probably be listed on the former after some months.  You’d have to list your business on these other third-party sites anyway if you’re serious about your local SEO.  The only difference is that now – if you have more patience than money at the moment – you may want to list your business on those sites first, rather than do LocalEze first and wait for it to feed your info to the other sites

Questions?  First-hand observations?  Not sure which plan of attack might be best in your situation?  Leave a comment!