Local SEO is a strategy ripe with opportunities, but for many local business owners, it is a challenging and confusing set of tactics. In order to establish your local presence online, you need to be tuned into all the local directories where your business is or could be listed, and constantly monitor these locations for new updates.
Several companies, most notably Yext, have taken it upon themselves to make the process of submitting local citations easier for business owners. However, while Yext’s services are valuable, they may not be right for every business owner or every local SEO campaign.
Yext is a local listing tool that is purported to boost companies’ ranks for local searches by submitting accurate local citations, which either replace inaccurate existing information or fill a void where no information was before. Yext also offers an integrated dashboard, which displays updated analytics for your local SEO campaign, including detailed local listings, updates on changes, and profile views and clicks for each business listing.
Yext is a tool that consolidates and makes easier the otherwise manual processes of submitting and managing local listings. Local listings, of course, are essential for SEO, but many business owners don’t have the time or patience to do it manually.
Yext is able to scour the web for all the possible locations your business could be listed—instantaneously. It also searches for any instances of your business where the information (such as your name, address, or phone number) are inaccurate or in an inconsistent format. This can save business owners hours of time, though there are alternative means of finding such information. Still, using Yext allows business owners to generate a solid list of places where their information needs to be updated—making the process that much easier.
One major problem with citation submission and distribution is the timing. Never mind the time it takes to find local directories—once you submit your changes or additions, it usually takes a period of days or weeks before the directory adopts your changes, and another several weeks before those changes are incorporated into search engine indexes.
Through Yext’s proprietary data distribution system, it’s possible to submit this information almost instantly. In a matter of days, your listings can be updated and live.
The integrated dashboard that comes with your Yext account is also beneficial, especially for business owners new to the world of local SEO. While the dashboard is relatively simple, it does give business owners great insights into the amount of traffic generated by local listings and how different listings compare to one another in terms of overall value.
Even though Yext does have a host of benefits, there are also a handful of major disadvantages.
Minimal Ongoing Value
Yext is extremely useful when it comes to tracking down local directories where your information is inaccurate or absent, but once that information is updated, there isn’t much you’ll need Yext for. It’s a valuable system to learn when your profiles are updated (usually with user ratings and reviews), but you don’t need a proprietary system in order to manage this portion. As such, the ongoing value of Yext is questionable, especially compared to its price.
The cost of Yext is somewhat variable, depending on the size of your business and how many local listings you need to correct, but a one-time update can run in the neighborhood of $500 or more. If you need the local SEO boost and you don’t want to spend the time updating things yourself, that $500 might be worth it. Otherwise, it’s an expensive addition to your strategy that isn’t completely necessary.
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a non-answer, but it comes down to your business and your specific needs. Every business is going to need something different out of this service, if they need it at all. If you can afford the one-time update, and you have several local listings that need to be submitted, Yext could be a great one-time service to boost your local SEO relevance. Otherwise, as an ongoing service, Yext doesn’t have anything special that you can’t get for free and with a little extra work.
If you’re looking to get some of the value that Yext offers without paying for the service, there are plenty of free and easy-to-use resources that can help you make the updates necessary to boost your local search rankings.
Google Alerts is a perfect tool for building awareness of your business’s mentions on local directories, and it’s completely free to use. You can set an alert to be sent to you whenever a specific keyword is mentioned (such as your brand) on a specific site or collection of sites (such as Yelp). By using this tool, you can plug into hundreds of conversations and keep tabs on all your local directories all in one place. It’s very convenient, and much cheaper than it would be to subscribe to a similar ongoing service.
In addition, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics are great tools that can help you measure the impact of your strategy. Using Google Analytics, you can filter your audience until only locals are present to determine your overall impact, or check out the Audience Acquisition breakdown to see which of your external local listings are generating the greatest amount of traffic.
In Webmaster Tools, you can head to Google Places and, by association, Google My Business, which will allow you to submit all your business information to Google. Most local directories, if they do not already have your information, will use this data to accurately present your business’s information. It’s not as fast or as thorough as Yext’s tool, but it serves as an informal way to update your business information all across the web.
While local directories are rising in popularity as options for users looking for specific business information, social media profiles are still extremely important—and best of all, they’re still completely free. Make sure you claim your company’s social profile on as many different social media platforms as you can. Not only will this help your local SEO directly by giving search engines more context about your business, but it will also help prevent any inaccuracies or absences of your business information in local directories across the web.
Social media is also a valuable opportunity to post regular, local-specific updates about your company in an effort to gain visibility and association with your geographic region.
All in all, Yext is a good tool to aid in your local SEO proceedings. It’s not going to instantly raise you to the top of the SERPs, nor is it going to do much for you on an ongoing basis (especially compared to your traditional local SEO strategy), but in updating and distributing your local business information, it is fairly valuable. Since it is not a necessary tool for a successful local SEO campaign, your budget and your willingness to complete the manual actions of updating your business information should be the key factors in your decision on whether or not to proceed with the service.