As an SEO director, citations will forever be the lingering nuisance in my work repertoire. There’s a never-ending supply of them, and they constantly need to be coddled and shielded from outside user edits and data syndication – and it normally has to be done manually. The easy (and expensive) way out is using a service like Yext that will automatically syndicate your given data across a number of citations. Yext may have some shortcomings, but it is pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it option, which makes it popular with small local businesses.
Generally, with manually claimed citations, you have ownership of the page. You’ve created a username and password to “claim” the listing, and can log in and update the address if ever needed. With Yext, you create a new “phantom page”, or overwrite an existing one. Whatever you have in your Yext dashboard is what will be projected onto the page. What is often shown instantly with Yext, may take days or weeks for manual citation building.
One of Yext’s hindrances is that the reach is only 68 citations. Granted, some of the listings are only available to Yext users; meaning a mere human SEO specialist cannot add their business to them. Another Yext restriction is how personalized you can get with your citations. Often times the “nichier” a website, the more detailed you can get with a business’ services and apply any tied-in marketing options. These aspects can only to be accessed if you are manually creating an account or claiming an existing citation because Yext can only syndicate certain fields of data. Despite the few road blocks, I do like how Yext handles its duplicate profiles – it shows you any profiles that may be interfering with your main citations and gives you the option to suppress them.
All in all, there are pros and cons with either route you take. But the biggest problem may lie in what happens after you cancel Yext. All 68 of those perfectly syndicated profiles are said to disappear if you ever do cancel your subscription. So do you have to sell your soul for eternity?
We shall see. Our case study will focus on what happens to a business when they cancel their Yext subscription after having been subscribed for a few months.
Salus Homecare is a multi-location (10 locations) company that provides for home care, home health, and hospice services. We’ve had all locations of the Salus Homecare ecosystem under Yext prior to me being at hired at Bright Oak. For our newer clients, I instead would manually claim the citations for both cost and ownership reasons. We decided to do the same for Salus Homecare, and figured it would be a good opportunity for a Yext citation audit as well as to watch for any changes that would come with the switch.
2/16/17 – Pre-Audit
2/19/17 – Yext is canceled
3/6/17 – Post-Audit #1
3/29/17 – Post-Audit #2
7 did not link to citations at any point
1 had issues syndicating data
60 were correct
14 were deleted
31 stayed the same
10 had the wrong number
5 had the wrong number & website
1 had the wrong number, website, & address
7 did not link to citations at any point
The profiles stayed exactly the same from the past audit
So It Appears That:
46% stayed the same
21% were deleted
23% reverted back
10% didn’t have viewable profiles at any point
Yext claims that when you turn off the subscription, the citations are removed. Although that wasn’t completely the case, I still wanted to see if there would be any dips in referral traffic coming to the website. Although only a few months has passed, GA reported that there had not been any loss in traffic. Sessions actually went up 21% and bounce rate improved by 40%. As I skimmed through the sources, the citations looked to be bringing in traffic just fine – dare I even say better. Whether there is a correlation or not is a whole other story.
So what did we learn here? That Yext is not imperative but it is here for convenience. I was relieved to find that the citations did not disappear completely. Sure, a chunk of them need to be corrected, but I knew I was going to be doing that either way. I was even more thrilled to find that it didn’t have a negative impact on referral traffic. But as I begin to manually claim and/or fix Salus Homecare’s citations, I’ll have to check back to look for further traffic improvements. Stay tuned ya’ll.
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