Deep Dive Into Local series from Nov. 22, 2016. In our Deep Dive series, we take a closer look at one thing in local that caught our attention and deserves a longer discussion.
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11/22/16 - edited
Mike: I would like to transition into the Deep Dive. Whitespark did an interesting article by Nyagoslav Zhekov, at Whitespark. Nyagoslav is in charge of Citation work did a good case study of what happens when you cancel Yext and many listing services, including Moz. You pay for the listing, but when the listing is removed, many of the sites that are carrying that data revert to some other state. Other words, this data, coming at forepaid, overrides fundamental data.
This is what they found over a several week period, although it may play out differently over time. They canceled Yext, done roughly May 13, and pre-audit on the 6th, and then followed it through for about 3 weeks. So this may continue to change, but 40% of the listing stayed accurate and 60% reverted to incorrect data. This is a problem with Yext, a lesser problem with Moz but still a problem. Yext is not a good or bad service but if you are going to use Yext, you should still manually update your listings at the primary data suppliers so that the fundamental data feeding the ecosystem is accurate and you can have a shot at your listing being accurate when you're done.
So Yext has never been a solution in and of itself. That drop-off, which I think will get worst over time. Now, it's 40% stayed accurate over 3 weeks. I think, over time, they may get even more inaccurate. Curious.
Your thoughts on that?
Mary: Well, the first thing that strikes me is as I was accepting these listings, why would I not make them more or less permanent? It would make my directory better to say, "Okay, this is an update that has come via Yext," but from the business owner, saying, "This is the truth about my business." Why would they not make that permanent and be reverting things when they have the ability to not revert them?
Mike: Right, it's two issues. Some of them don't update their list. One of the issues is the quality of directories that Yext uses. Some of them don't update their listings hardly ever. And when they do, they use a trusted source like InfoUSA. So in other words, once you stop paying Yext and they stop receiving that data, they say, "Oh, let's default back to our primary listing provider," which is InfoUSA or Localeze or Acxiom. And if they're doing that, then it's going to revert if you haven't adjusted them. That’s some of the problem.
Also, these minor directories in particular don't want to be maintaining their own list, so they have to have some list that they trust. It's so expensive to do your own reconciliation. They’re dealing with maybe 16 million listings, and in the end, can't afford to maintain their own discrete list. Yext is maintaining, also InfoUSA, Acxiom, Localeze and Google. Beyond that, who's really maintaining a comprehensive list? And the Yext list isn't comprehensive. It's just who's paying money.
So there's also the issue of that when you're paying money, you're allowed some freedoms that you might not otherwise be allowed in the form of InfoUSA or Acxiom, which validate based on verification which is why Google trust them so much, right? So we might also be using Yext to push bad name through the system.
Mary: Do you know if Yext has any restrictions on what they're accepting in their system, if it's possible to push bad names or against the guidelines?
Mike: You have more liberty than you do with Google. I don't know exactly these days. I haven't run it lately. I haven't pushed the limits of it lately. The other issue is that places like InfoUSA and Acxiom have their trusted sources. And so, let's say, for example, the IRS tax information for your business is wrong, then InfoUSA may take that over and provide that to Yelp or whomever, or Localeze might do it. Localeze uses phones and phone data. InfoUSA uses business records, as does Acxiom. And if that information has an update.
So part of this is that you have to be sure that your data is accurate including primary offline resources. That includes IRS, big government regulatory bodies, licensing bodies, the county government with your DBA, and probably your utility bills as well. If those are accurate and if your InfoUSA and Localeze and Acxiom are accurate, then it is likely if you stop doing Yext, very little would change because the people would default back to the places where they're buying the listing and listing would be accurate.
So typically, if you're going to buy Yext for a year and you want to get this other stuff done six months in, end of the year, stop your Yext listing, you'd probably be better off in that situation.
Mike: Makes sense?
Mary: Makes sense.
Mike: All righty. Well, with that, we'll wrap it up. And see you next week. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.
Mary: You, too. Bye-bye.