Too long, didn’t read it all version:
Yext puts your local business on 55’ish different local search directories. The reason this is important is two fold: 1) to have your local business information correct across the internet so when people look you up on Google they find the right name, address, and phone for your business (you’d be surprised how incorrect your information might be) and 2) because the more local search directories you’re on, the higher you will rank on Google. You can pay Yext $500’ish annually to put you on these local search directories, you can get yourself on most local search directories Yext submits to by yourself for free (with a time investment), or you can try a Yext alternative for much cheaper. In my opinion, Yext is not worth the money every single year.
Continue on to read our Yext review in full: how Yext works, the benefits to Yext, how much Yext costs, features, problems, analysis, as well as my final conclusion.
From time to time Yext updates how their business listing service works. When this happens we then come and report the changes in this article. Stay up to date on what Yext is really up to by clicking here to subscribe to email updates of this article.
Quick Article Links
- What is Yext?
- Yext Pricing
- Yext Benefits
- Yext Problems
- Yext Benefits, Reloaded
- Yext Alternatives & Yext Competitors
Yext is a pretty slick self service machine that lists your local business on 55 (they say 70+ but when you whittle out the “apps” that don’t help your Google ranking it’s about 55 directories) different local search directories (LSD’s) such as Yelp, Citysearch, Superpages etc. instantly, for a price.
That’s what Yext does, pure and simple.
Why is this important? What is the real benefit of Yext? To increase your ranking on Google. That’s more or less it.
Now, you may ask, “Won’t some of my customers find me on these LSD’s like Citysearch and Superages? Isn’t that another benefit of Yext?” While some consumers may find you on these other LSD’s, it’s unlikely. Most people are going to head straight to Google to search and skip these LSD’s. The exception to this is Yelp. But the fact remains that main attraction of Yext is in the power it holds to list your local business on all these local search directories in a short amount of time which will, in turn, drive up your local business rankings on Google, the most searched “Local Search Directory” of them all.
Local SEO and the part it plays
Local SEO stands for Local Search Engine Optimization and essentially, it’s the science of how to rank your local business higher on Google.
One of the 5 Pillars of Local SEO (learn about Local SEO here) is local search directories and how many local search directories your local business is listed on. Local search directories are about 25% of the equation to ranking well on Google as a local business. The more local search directories you’re listed on, the higher you will rank on Google.
As you can see, the power of Yext to post you on 55 local search directories is appealing for any local business wanting to rank higher on Google.
While some may tout how awesome it is for your local business to be visible to local consumers when they search on these 55 different LSD’s, it is a commonly held understanding in the local business marketing community that the benefit of ranking better on Google is the only real reason to be listed on local search directories, thus making this the main appeal of Yext for anyone.
With all of this being said, one of the main drawbacks of Yext is price.
Yext costs a pretty penny. As a local business, you’re looking at between $500-$1,000 to buy directly from Yext. And that’s per year. And that’s not the only problem with Yext (more on those below).
For those of you that don’t just have that kind of cash to throw around or want something better, we have a different solution for you.
Before we get to that solution though, let’s cover everything Yext offers and the benefits, as well as some drawbacks to lay a good groundwork.
Yext has some pretty awesome benefits that I think any subjective individual would admit to. Among those being:
- Submission and 55 live listings for your local business within a quick time frame (72 hours)
- One central dashboard to make name, address, phone or other local business changes
- Keep your listings “fresh”
Clean up bad information across the internet– I’ve been told by a few people now that Yext actually doesn’t offer this to the regular consumer anymore. It’s only a part of their “Enterprise” package. Can’t be confirmed or denied at this point.
- “Enhanced Listings” with photos, specials, etc.
- Review monitoring
- Local listing analytics
While all of these features are pretty cool for the most part, Yext has 2 major drawbacks: price and reversion.
Yext costs a minimum of $500. That wouldn’t be so bad except that you have to pay Yext every year and $500 a year starts to add up fast. They also auto renew, so if you order through them, watch out for that.
Yext also will revert your listings back to their old status if you cancel with them. Meaning those 55 listings will either be gone (if Yext created them in the first place) or will revert back to their old listing information if you lapse your agreement with them from year to year. Basically, you’re renting your listings.
So, you’re more or less locked into a lifetime agreement with them from here on out until the end of your business if you want to keep those listings.
Are you planning on keeping your business for 10+ years? Sure you are. Then you need to be prepared to shell out $5,000+ over the lifetime of your business to Yext.
But what about Yext’s features? Aren’t they worth it?
Yext’s features just don’t really add up in the grand scheme of things in light of the drawbacks of cost and the reversion of your listings.
Before we examine Yext’s features even closer, let me remind you of the main benefit of Yext.
As a local business, you want to have profiles on local search directories and Yext obviously helps with this. But you don’t necessarily want to have profiles on local search directories for the sake of getting traffic from these local search directories. Why? Because unless it’s one of Bing, Facebook, Yelp, or Yellowpages, consumers won’t be searching on these local search directories. They’ll be searching on Google instead because these other local search directories simply aren’t popular enough to have local customers searching on them. Have you ever heard of 2findlocal.com or showmelocal.com? Yeah, neither have your customers.
The main benefit of local search directory profiles is to rank you higher on Google, the most searched “local search directory”. Google scans all of these local search directories and the more you have a profile on, the higher you will rank on Google (Local SEO).
Again, just to hammer it home: Ranking higher on Google is the main benefit of Yext.
Now, let’s look at Yext’s features again with the main objective, Local SEO, in mind:
Yext Benefit #1: Submission and 55 live listings for your local business
This is a pretty cool feature of Yext. But the price and renting the listings really brings the party down.
You can actually sign yourself up for most of these local search directories on your own. They’re all free, with 1-2 of them costing a one-time fee of $5 or so and a few more being impossible to navigate because of their exclusive agreement with Yext. But you can still get the majority of them and 100% of the ones that matter. And the best part? You get to keep your profiles. You can’t lose ownership of them and they last forever.
Yext Benefit #2: One central dashboard to make name, address, phone or other local business changes
A local business hardly every makes changes to their name, address, phone number or otherwise. Think about it, how many times in the last few years have you rebranded, moved, or changes your phone? Not a real seller.
The only caveat would be if you want to update pictures or hours often. But if you want to do that, just update those things on the local search directories where photos and hours will actually get seen: Google, Bing, Yelp, Yellowpages, and Facebook. No one is going to look anywhere else to find you and therefore updating your pictures and hours across all local search directories is unnecessary.
I recommend foregoing the dashboard and going DIY instead. Sign up for these local search directories yourself and when you need to make photo changes or hours changes, make them on the Big 5 (again, Google, Bing, Yelp, Yellowpages, and Facebook) and be done with it. You just saved yourself $500 a year.
The only issue is if you don’t have the time or energy to sign up these listings for yourself. At that point we would recommend using an alternative to Yext where you pay someone a one time fee to sign up your listings and then they hand over control to you. We’ll talk about those alternatives in a second.
Yext Benefit #3: Keep your listings “fresh”
I’ve also heard people tell me that they’ve heard about the benefit of keeping your listings “fresh” for Google by changing something like your business description or keywords constantly in order to increase your ranking. There is absolutely no evidence to support this changing your listings often increases your ranking. None. And, in fact, there is logical reasoning to believe Google expects the opposite. Why? Because Google knows that your name, address, phone and website don’t change often, if ever. So it makes even more sense to just keep your information the same.
Yext Benefit #4: Clean up bad information across the internet
Sometimes bad information about your business gets out into the internet. Maybe you have an old address out there, or an old phone, or old business name. Or maybe some of the information you get is just plain wrong. Or maybe you have two business listings on a site when you only need one (called “duplicates”). This is an issue because it could confuse customers looking up your information leading them to call an old, disconnected number or show up to at your old location. Also, inconsistent information could drop your ranking on Google. Either way, this information needs to be cleaned up. Yext offers to clean this information up for you but you can also do this on your own as well. You don’t need them to do it. Not to mention the last time we ran a test on Yext we found 8 different LSD’s that Yext did not clean up the duplicate listings on. So, how good they actually are this is up in the air.
8/23/17 Update – After speaking with a few people I know in the Local SEO space, they brought to my attention that this isn’t true for regular consumers. In doing some research of my own, I did in fact see that Yext’s packages don’t include their “Duplicate Suppression” feature. You can see those packages here. So, it looks like for the time being, getting your information cleaned up across the internet isn’t in the cards for the regular consumer with Yext.
Yext Benefit #5: “Enhanced Listings” with photos, specials, etc.
Again, most of your local customers won’t even see the other local listings Yext provides access to besides “The Big 5”. Again, you can change all 5 of those on your own for free. That makes the photos and other enhanced features a bit underwhelming since no one will really see them. Not to mention that most of those local search directories, when you sign up for them on your own, will also let you add pictures, specials, etc. for free.
This is not a feature unique to Yext.
Yext Benefit #6: Review monitoring
It’s hard enough to get a single review on Google for your local business. Have you tried?
So there’s no real reason to monitor 55 different local search directories for hundreds of them. Just monitor The Big 5 on your own and you’ll be fine.
Yext Benefit #7: Local Listing Analytics
I know I’m hammering this but I want to make sure this point is not lost on you: not many actual local customers will be visiting the other local search directories Yext lists you on besides The Big 5. So, having numbers on how many people visit the other listings isn’t a big deal because hardly anyone will be.
By the way, Google, Facebook & Yelp actually provide their own analytics so you’re not missing out there anyway.
There just aren’t a lot of scenarios where I see Yext being a big benefit for local businesses because of the drawbacks and the presence of better alternatives, whether you do it yourself or seek out an alternative with a one time cost where you are the owner of your listings.
The only scenario I could see where Yext could possibly make sense would be if you have 100+ locations where Yext could help you keep those listings more organized and you don’t mind shelling out a good amount of money every year for it.
And that’s about it…
If you don’t fall into that category, DIY or an alternative should be your route.
So, now that you understand that Yext is popular because of Local SEO, we can look at some alternatives and competitors of Yext.
One amazing alternative to Yext is the aforementioned “do it yourself”. If you have the money and are short on time, a Yext alternative might be your best bet. But if you’re frugal and have some time on your hands (or a savvy employee) you can get the job done and list your local business on almost all of the local search directories Yext serves yourself for free. Just keep in mind the time and energy investment you’ll be making trying to sign up for around 50 different local search directories.
There are also competitors out there to Yext as well. Most of them have the same drawbacks though: price and reversion.
You really need to find a service that will charge you a one time cost and let you own your listings. Then all of the issues I raised would be solved. We’re working on our own competing service to Yext (Update: we’ve just launched our alternative service to Yext: Local Listing Ninja! Get more details here) but until then, a few of the Yext competitors I know of are Whitespark, Brightlocal, and Synup.
I used Whitespark about 3-4 years ago. I didn’t have a good experience with them. Many times the orders didn’t get to me on time and I had to reach out to them to get my order. When they sent it to me, some of my listings weren’t even live. I quickly moved on from them. However, they may have changed by now and gotten better. I just know they outsource and it’s hard to do that and maintain quality.
Brightlocal is another service like Whitespark that outsources. I haven’t used their citation services but I have used their other services and wasn’t exactly impressed. However, it should be noted that a lot of the Local SEO people I speak with absolutely love BrightLocal’s other services. So, while I wasn’t impressed, others that I respect are. The biggest drawback to me, however, is their customer support. It’s consistently been a poor experience for me with their reply times being extremely long and they’re also located in the UK so their reply times are off, making a flowing conversation and customer service difficult. These are reasons why I haven’t given their business listing product a shot but who knows, maybe they would surprise.
One interesting option that I haven’t explored is a company called Synup. I don’t know how good they are and whether they have a quality service or not but they claim they won’t revert your listings and you own the listings yourself. They also claim to have a dashboard as well if you really want that. They actually might be worth a look.
But if you’ve taken my advice and want to go the DIY route, let’s get into that.
The benefits of doing it yourself are pretty obvious.
It’s all free to sign up for, except for maybe $10 total to sign up for 1-2 of the paid directories Yext partners with. But $10 one time sure beats $500 every single year. And we wouldn’t even recommend signing up for those paid directories because they’re not very high quality. Stick to the free ones.
You also get to keep these business listings as yours forever and don’t have to keep paying money every single year. They’re free, for good.
There are some drawbacks to DIY though.
One of the biggest drawbacks is signing up for these local search directories can be time consuming.
I estimate that for a local business, it would take anywhere from 30-45 minutes per local search directory. That is a lot of your time. But you can make this much more manageable through a few steps which we’ll list in just a second.
You also can’t change the local search directories instantly. If you need to update your name, phone, or address, some of these sites will update instantly. Others will take a few days.
But when you factor in these drawbacks vs the drawbacks of Yext, namely price and renting your listings, I think DIY is definitely the better option.
DIY Next Steps
If you’ve decided to take the DIY route, then there are a few things you will need.
The first thing you will need is a list of all the local search directories Yext partners with. Luckily for you, they make that pretty easy.
Go to their Free Local Business Listings Scan and enter in your business name, number, and contact name. This is a lead generation machine, which means Yext will call you if you use this. It’s pretty easy to get rid of them though. Just say, “No thanks, please take me off of your call list,” and be done with it.
Once you scan, you’ll see a list of every single local search directory Yext services. Go to each one individually and sign up on your own.
Signing Up For Local Search Directories
This is an absolute art and tough to master. Your main goal here is just to find the sign up button, if they even have one.
Here are a few tips on how to find how to sign up:
1) Look for a button that says “business owners”, “claim your business”, “submit listing”, etc.
2) If that’s not available, look at the navigation bar to see if similar language to sign up is there or at the footer.
3) If still nothing, search for your profile in their search bar. If it doesn’t come up, there may be some “Can’t find your business? Add it here” language at the top or bottom of the page.
4) If your profile does come up, click on it and see if there’s any language about “claiming” your profile.
5) If not, sign up for an account if they allow that and see if anything is available in that route. Local search directories sometimes have two distinct account sign ups, one for local businesses and another for consumers. If you have a choice, obviously choose local business. If there isn’t a choice, well, there isn’t a choice. When you sign up, see if you get anything in your introductory email or if there’s anything on your profile page or profile settings that gives away clues.
6) If you’ve still found nothing, look through their help articles. These are usually in the footer or maybe even in the navigation bar. You’re looking for “help”, “support”, “FAQ”, etc. These pages may give you an idea of how to sign up.
7) As a last resort, use their contact feature to send them an email or call and ask them how to sign up.
DIY Time Saving Tips
These tips should help you breeze quicker through the sign up process as well:
1. Save common information
As you sign up for these local search directories, you’ll notice that they ask for a lot of the same information. Name, address, phone, website, etc. Write all of these down in a Word document and just copy and paste.
2. Set a schedule
Purpose to do 2 local search directories a day. That’s 10 a week and you’ll be done in 5 weeks.
3. Have someone else do it
You can get this done with zero effort on your part by having someone in your business do it for you. Maybe the secretary or someone else who is tech savvy.
4. It gets better
As you go along, you’ll naturally get in the groove and get better at signing up for these local search directories. You’ll know where to look, get some best practices down, etc. and will shave a lot of time off of that 30-45 minutes.
Which of the local search directories Yext supports don’t allow submissions?
These are few and far between but we don’t currently know. We have guesses but want to reach out to the local search directories first before we give that information out. However, we imagine it to be less than 10%.
Does having 55 listings populated automatically help my Google ranking?
There is no evidence to support that speed of local search directories submission helps your Google ranking. In fact, many in the local search community believe you want to allow local search directories to populate over time, if anything. At the University, we sign up for local search directories all at the same time. Between the time it takes to get some approved and some indexed by Google, they will be spread out.
Yext has some really cool benefits but some steep drawbacks as well.
To sum it all up, I think it can best be put like this:
As a Local SEO agency, Yext is available to me for about half of what you as a local business will pay in retail, around $250 a year.
And I still won’t buy it.
What About You?
Are you considering Yext? Why or why not? Have an experience with Yext you would like to share? Or maybe just a question? Leave your question or comment below and we will reply promptly!