Published: May 16, 2014
Multi-location businesses face unique challenges in the management, optimization and distribution of local business listing information. Accuracy is critical for every business, but those with a number of locations must also master scale.
With several new location management automation tools taking to the market, it’s becoming easier and easier to literally manage all of your online business listings with a single click. Consider the time and cost savings of taking the time commitment and hassle out of updating each of your business listings individually.
These tools, including Yext, Axciom, Neustar Localeze and Moz Local, push accurate location data to all the major local databases and directories with a single click. But intense competition in the local directory management market is quickly commoditizing the product and will create a downward pressure on the rates these services can charge and the features they include — which is why it’s important to understand what data aggregators are out there and how they compare in helping you manage your local listings.
There are four basic stages or levels at which you can approach data aggregation. Providers at each level cannot be compared to each other on an ‘apples to apples’ basis because they simply offer different service solutions.
- Manual listing & updates – Manage and submit changes on your own.
- Basic automation with low cost data aggregators – These platforms usually focus on basic information like business name, address, phone, website, cities served, brand logo and imagery, business description, category, and hours.
- Higher cost local listings management and automation – comprehensive listings management and ability to customize, highly brand, include unique promotions, and integrate social media. (Real-time data distributors like Yext and niche directory sites like Yelp, Foursquare, and even Facebook function as social networks, but also act as or power business review sites and house local business listing information.)
- Citation management and reporting – Alongside the automation of your local listing syndication, look to citation management and ranking tools for ongoing improvements. These will help you track performance, measure increases in ranking and traffic, and more effectively optimize your local listings across the top search engines, data aggregators, and popular networks.
Start With The Essentials
Depending on how in depth you’d like to control your listings, basic low cost data aggregators like Data by Acxiom, Factual, and Infogroup are a good place to start. These services provide basic tools for correcting data on a mass level. They don’t, however, offer the highest degree of branding, the opportunity for social connection and detailed promotions, viewing and monitoring reviews, or data and reporting. There is also some discrepancy in these services with knowing whether your updated information successfully populated local listings.
Hone in Your Strategy with Higher Quality Solutions
These services like eLocal (Yext), Placeable and even Neustar Localeze offer more comprehensive listing management solutions. Going above and beyond basic data updating, these providers offer extensive customization, enhanced listings, opportunity to integrate social channels, keep up to date promotions visible in local directories, view and monitor reviews, and offer access to data and analytics. For many, this is a great place to start and do everything right with your local listings the first time around. Others opt to start with a low cost aggregator first and then graduate to these.
No matter the route you take, basic data aggregators or a more comprehensive and brandable automation solution, cleaning up and managing your local business listings can make or break new business — especially when it comes to foot traffic. For a more in-depth analysis and comparison of local listing management platforms, take a look at our comparison of eLocal (a.k.a. Yext) vs. Localeze vs. Placeable and other local data aggregators.
Yext and Moz Local aren’t really data aggregators, just to clarify. They are tools that push the data (which you input) to the data aggregators and some citation directories. Axciom, Factual, InfoGroup and Localeze are true aggregators. That is, they actually collect data from the Web, disperse it to local directories, and even lease the data to Google.
Good point, Kyle. That element is an important consideration when you consider a solution for your local listings management needs. From our experience, however, platforms like Yext provide a better user experience – making it easy for anyone to input, adjust, and monitor local listings. True data aggregators definitely do have their benefits though, as they act as a ‘official’ source for many outlets like Google and Yelp.
What about accuracy of your store location information? All big brands have this issue, even if they like to admit it or not. You mention this in the post “Accuracy is critical for every business, but those with a number of locations must also master scale.” True, scale is important and now more then ever nearly all platforms handle brand’s locations at scale. But what if you don’t have accurate data to start? All you are doing is spreading this wrong information out into the local eco-system where it will continue to be a systemic issue for the foreseeable future. Would love your thoughts on how Yext, Moz and Placeable handles this issue.
Yext, Moz and Placeable depend on you to provide the source of the data. You are responsible for making sure the source is accurate. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. Most big brands have a centralized internal database of all of their locations, which they assume is correct and just export it to .csv. A lot of the listing management vendors then build special data loaders for the data you provide. I think some of the vendors help normalize the data if there are things like “ave” instead of “street”, but I’m not 100%. Making sure your data is as accurate as possible is important.
What do you do when a client asks you to mass delete a business listing from 2005? Their listing is everywhere and I don’t know where to start. Is there any easy way?