January 24, 2014
Local SEO is again under a shake-up. Mapquest has just notified its business users of a local citation transfer to Yext. Yext includes a partnership with over 60 directories and provides an automated (paid, with no free, or freemium option) solution to updated these listings for you. Its one thing to offer a faster and simplified method for you to auto-updated the many local seo citations that you are in need of.
However, as of now, Yext has exclusive right to add your listing to Local.com, American Towns, and now MapQuest. If you have set up these citations before hand you are good to go, unless you have to change or updated your listing. However if you have not claimed your local listing with either Local.com, American Towns, or MapQuest your only option if you are in need of these citations is to go through Yext.com after subscribing for a yearly fee. Great news for Yext, but not such great news for us local business owners, non profits, and in general for the local SEO community. With already large quantity of various business expenses and marketing services that we pay for, here is another service that might soon be a mandatory fee for local SEO ranking, and citation building.
Lessons to Take Away from This Yext and MapQuest Partnership
- Get all the Free Citations you can. You might have enough citations to give you the top 3 spot on the local SERPS in your favorite search engine, and you might be thinking that you are good to go. However, things might pick up competitively in your area, and soon you might be on a search for more local citations. This might mean that some of the free citations that were available before might soon be under the exclusive wing of Yext or maybe some other local citation aggregator or automation company. Look ahead of your competitors and get all the free local citations while you can, while there is still free lunch.
- Thinking of switching up your NAP, do it Now! We all understand business have to grow and move to new locations, or relocate. The phone numbers change, open hours, business descriptions, and categories do not remain constant forever. Not updating your open hours or updating the business description with the new service you started offering is not the end of the world. However not changing your phone number after it changed is a pretty big deal, for calls and conversions of course, but also for the Name, Address, Phone, Website (NAP) citation information. You cannot predict what will need to be changed in 3, 6, 12 months from now. However, if you are thinking of switching up your phone number, maybe from a 800 to a local area code number (as Google suggests) or you are thinking of changing up your brand and get a new website domain name? Do it sooner than later, or be forced to use a paid service to update that in the future!
- The rules of the game may change. Facebook, Google, Instagram, and many other great products and services started with a goal to bring a great product to the market. However after about 100 to 1000 new hires, a company really has to think about how it will continue to consistently grow and please its share holders. We learned this well from Google, products that are not making money are closed (Google Reader), or begin charging fees like Google Analytics and its enterprise service offering. Do not be surprised if companies such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Yelp start charging for their local listings. Many have freemium models already, others are fee only. Again get the links now while they are free and beneficial.
- Local SEO is Huge, but take the holistic approach. With the rules of the game changing, don’t put all your eggs in the local SEO basket only going for local citations and directories. Yes Google does not think its wise bet too. Diversify into organic rankings, yes they are more work but this may be the way you stand out from your competitors and future proof yourself, your small business, non profit, or organization. Building up your organic ranking presence may have up front costs, but soon it might outweigh paying for yearly local listing fees. Who knows, local citations might soon be the new PPC, pay per citation!