A client recently asked my opinion of a service called YEXT, so I went to their site took a look around then entered my companies URL and started to sign up. Without reading too much I figured out that they are a listing service that will add your site / profile to up to 35 different sites including YELP and Yellow-book as well as several less well-known sites such as Local.com, merchantcircle.com, whitepages.com and getfave.com.
From the outset it looks like it might be a good thing: a simple way to get your company listed on every directory out there with just a few clicks, what a time saver. And as you know backlinks are great for SEO, and who knows this might get me a few extra visitors, or idealy I would get a higher page rank on Google.
However all is not quite as it appears. Nor is it as easy.
After a bit more poking around on their site, I’m skeptical that the service provides much value --and considering that they charge monthly for each of their listings it can get expensive quickly.
Let’s consider how search and review sites work. These sites want and need to have businesses listed in their directories because that content is what they are offering their end users. So I doubt that if you stopped paying the monthly fee to YEXT your site would be delisted by one of the directory sites. Also you could easily go to the directory site and in a few minutes you could create your own listing. So I guess one of the things that YEXT does is make it quick to create your listing, since you create it once and it is pushed to all of the 35 or so sites. So YEXT does save you time.
Then consider how few of these listing sites reach large numbers of end-users. Very few people go to www.yellowbook.com or whitepages.com to look for a service, as most people just go to Google. So how much is paying someone to create and maintain your listing on one of these sites worth ?
Then finally: Listings on sites like City Search or YELP need interaction between the listing owner and the listing site to ensure maximum effectiveness. Also in the case of YELP you can add photos, and extra content, which is more efficient to do directly through YELP.com and not through a 3rd party gateway. Also you might have to wonder if YELP added a new type of data they are collecting if YEXT would be adding that to their submission form. On the plus side YEXT does allow the business owner to tailor their listings to sites that they feel will benefit them, and this will help target their customers. But you could do this yourself, directly with the directory websites.
Many businesses want to increase their web visibility and aren’t sure how to do it. There may be some for whom Yext is helpful. There’s no substitute for a thoughtful, well-targeted marketing strategy with good original content. We believe that Yext is too expensive and is unlikely to connect businesses with the new customers they’re looking for.