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Yext May Destroy Your Local Ranking by Giving you Herpes

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by Nigel Farage, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    During a consultation with a new prospective client last night via Skype, I discovered what I believe to be new information on the manner in which Yext does their client's Local Citations; information that I have never read about before, and I believe may be completely new to the Local SEO practicing "public". It's also possible that I am simply the last to know, however there may be others less informed than myself that would find the following useful.

    The client had decided to avoid paying http://www.yext.com/pl/vr-gmail-pricing-121/index.html $500 to $1000 for their "power listing" service, and instead opted to subscribe to http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/localworks/, which based on my minimal research is exactly the same thing, except instead of a large, up-front, flat-rate fee, Yahoo sells a subscription at $30.00 per month.

    So, you'd think that if you paid Yext $500 to "do" all your local citations, that work would have durable value, right? Once you've paid to have your citations done, service is performed, payment was made and now you've got something, right?

    Well, maybe not. Because if that is the case, then how can Yahoo LocalWorks sell the exact same service as a "subscription"?

    Deconstructing Yahoo's deal, this prospective client believes that if/when he stops paying the $30.00 monthly fee, Yahoo will "send his citations back to the way they were before he subscribed", meaning that you aren't BUYING your citations being "done", you are RENTING them, being "done". Which makes me wonder if Yext is also doing your citations on a "lease" basis, instead of a one-off expenditure. So you pay $500 to have your local citations done. Do you discover, one year later, that if you don't pay another $500 all your citations will revert to the way that they were before you did business with Yext?

    Second thing I started wondering about was how they could "do" someone else's citations, seemingly overnight, and without any, or minimal involvement with their clients. When you do your citations manually, there are a lot of phone verifications, email verifications, Google Places wants to do a postcard, etc... Lots of hoops for a business owner to have to jump through.

    How can Yext/Yahoo LocalWorks (they appear to be fully-partnered) do all of this, and almost overnight?

    Maybe they really AREN'T "doing it". Maybe they are lying, i.e falsely representing what they have "done" to/for their clients.

    So, I ran this prospective client's phone number through Yext, and every single one of the citations listed all came back "Power Listing Verified", and they all had that same uniform green icon that gave you the general impression that they were "all taken care of", leaving you with the sense that "now that that is done, I can move on to something else".

    But I don't think that's a a report of the status of a business's local citation's status. I think that is a simple check of Yext's data base to see if the phone number/business address is registered with Yext, and if it is, Yext gives you a long string of green icons to give you the general impression that things have been "done", whether they have actually been done or not. Because of this suspicion, I started looking at the client's citations manually, and this is how I found the BIG DISCOVERY.

    Hovering the mouse cursor over the client's FourSquare listing's "Website" clickie, where the direct link from FourSquare to the client's website should be, the alt text says something like "website", but the alt URL text at the bottom left of the browser (chrome) shows a very long & complex URL that has all sorts of extra identifying code in it. What it was NOT was "www.client'swebsite.com"; instead it was "www.kse943lswkjl.kdkwo-34.yext.lkd9w203493.skdl.client'swebsite.com.39430ldjrel". Looked exactly like an affiliate link.

    I haven't had time to fully research this, but I suspect that what is happening is that the citation's URL is to the Yext website, which then redirects the browser to the client's website.

    What I think this means:

    I think what this means is that whatever cumulative "juice" that all these paid-for local citations generate is being aimed/directed/given to YEXT, and not the client that paid for them. YEXT takes the energy and uses it to make itself stronger, energy that their clients have paid good money for, which leaves little or no juice to go to the client that paid for it.

    A) Manually Created Citation: <FourSquare> -> <client's website>
    B) Yext Created Citation: <FourSquare> -> <YEXT> -> <client's website>

    So then, who's citation is it, really? With Yext listed as the "owners" website, that's a pretty good indicator that Yext actually owns it. It's not yours, it's Yext's. You just paid $500 to give your citations to someone else. And, when you stop paying, Yext may or may not give them back. So, not only will you have to manually take control over your citation, but you may encounter additionally difficulties with the citations because they believe that someone else owns them. Certainly someone else has control over them.

    I'm still stuck on how Yext can do all of this without having control over the phone number (to do phone verification), and the only thing I can think of is that Yext is paying the local citations off, to give them special powers that are not available to the general public. And (here's the worst part), if a citation (merchant circle, for example) is making money giving special powers to Yext, and they don't make any money giving control of a local business's citations to the local business owner, what reason would they have to do so? I've seen several instances where businesses conveniently fail to create an administrative mechanism that allows people to make changes to a situation. These corporations are shitty, and have a long & well-deserved reputation for doing whatever they want, and if you don't like it, you can hire an attorney and file a lawsuit, as if THAT is a realistic possibility.

    So my point here is to basically NOT do business with Yext, and most particularly with Yahoo LocalWorks. If Yext gets $500 by doing what they do, how can Yahoo make their $500 in $30 a month increments without resorting to some really shitty, underhanded and coercive means to force customers into continue paying them?

    Another concern I have is that the quality of the Google juice from citations managed by Yext may be less than the quality of the juice of citations that are self-managed. Be nice to see some research in this regard, but IMO the risks involved are so great that I wouldn't risk it. I think Yext is a bad, corrupt deal. I think they fail to fully inform their clients on what they are going to get, and not going to get, and I think that by the time people find out what's really happening they are going to be very sorry that they ever made a step in Yext's direction. And given the dramatic difference in pricing, I suspect the consequences of doing business with Yahoo LocalWorks will be even worse.

    Finally, I have been around long enough to know how things work. Anytime someone makes a negative comment about a big player on a forum like this (PARTICULARLY this one) some unknown account made years ago with 23 posts and a reputation of 10 will make a post in defense of the large corporation, or will seek to undermine the charges made against them. I have no problem with being wrong; I have a problem with Yext and/or Yahoo posting "incognito" and responding to these allegations/concerns as an "average member". Frequently they make personal attacks against the OP as well, in order to undermine their credibility. This post is aimed specifically at local small business owners and the Local SEO's that service them, and it is intended to open the door to questions that I believe everyone should be asking and thinking about, and if it accomplishes that objective, then my purpose here is served.

    PS, and the "Herpes" allegation was to get people to read, but I do think the metaphor may have some validity. Easy to get, and hard/impossible to get rid of.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
  2. MysticMerchant

    MysticMerchant Newbie

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    Fantastic Post! Great research my friend! I think you may be on to something.
     
  3. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    Thanks. And I had another idea.

    Given that all of Yext's clients are going to have the tell-tale website "affiliate link" URL with the "yext" referenced text, this will allow Google to easily differentiate between local businesses that have paid Yext to do their Local Citations, vs. those that have done them themselves, or paid someone "not yext" to do it.

    Given that, what if...

    What if Yext uses their extremely large network of local businesses to somehow "game the system" or do other behaviors that are in violation of Google's Terms of Service, or they simply do things that Google does not like? Google has already demonstrated that they have the ability to punish large companies that behave in ways that they do not like, and given Yext's aggressive marketing, it seems to me that Yext would be (relative to many other companies) much more likely to provoke some kind of negative response from Google, i.e. "punishment".

    But if/when Google punishes Yext, they'll have the ability to easily determine which local businesses are affiliated with Yext; they'll be the local businesses with the word "YEXT" in the affiliate-style URL labeled "website" on all of their citations.

    Meaning, Google can give a -10, -50, -100 demotion to every single one of Yext's clients in like 20 seconds, and for any reason they see fit. So, even in a best-case scenario, where a monied client is paying top-dollar for their ongoing case of internet marketing herpes, not only are they vulnerable to Yext for pulling the plug, they are vulnerable to Google doing the same thing, and both can do it for dramatically different reasons.

    Seems like an inordinate amount of risk to me.
     
  4. ArtVandelay

    ArtVandelay Power Member

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    As if we didn't already have enough of a reason to hate Yext...
    Thanks for the great post(s).

    I'd like to hear from somebody who has any additional info to share on the subject of the affiliate link devaluing the citation's "link juice."

    From what I've come to understand, link shorteners have a detrimental effect on link value, however it's nearly negligible. It's approximately equal to the amount of theoretical link juice lost in the action of linking from one site to another. Perhaps affiliate links are the same.

    If that doesn't make sense, imagine two pools - one empty and the other full of water. There's a satisfactory amount of water in the first pool, but you want to transfer a certain portion of that water to the empty pool. You conjoin the two pools with a hose and majority of the water you desire is transferred, however a small portion is caught in the hose, leaks from the rusty adapters and connecting ends, and squirts out of the tiny hole that developed from the years of abuse and kinks that the noble hose has endured.
    Probably an unnecessary and unclear analogy, but hopefully I've communicated an idea.
     
  5. Trevor J

    Trevor J Junior Member

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    Yahoo citations are definitely rented. My client pays for the advanced listings, something like $9 a month per location. If you cancel the service it DELETES the citations and you have to make new "free" ones.
     
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