Ever get a sales-ey call from a vendor proclaiming with trumpets and more enthusiasm than necessary that they are going to upload your business to over 200+ listing sites? Listings that will make sure your business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number are accurate, up-to-date, and will bring you overwhelming return? A promising tale isn’t it?
Before jumping on this train, we have some things for you to consider.
We’d like to point out an important detail. In the old’n days business listings would just require a business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number, hence the acronym NAP. However, this is the modern world and now listings also include a business’s website. So, for all intents and purposes we will refer to it as NAPW. Who knows, maybe we’ve got a revolution on our hands!
On we go with aggregators.
Not including Yext, (which could technically be considered a data aggregator) below are four major data aggregators that feed your business listings to various sites:
In case you missed it, check out this diagram created by Moz. It shows where each aggregator distributes its info (think every airlines’ travel route map… yikes but kind of cool looking too).https://moz.com/learn/seo/local-search-data-providers
What is a data aggregator and how do they work?
Data aggregators will take your business information, or NAPW, details and distribute them to various listing sites or search engines. The idea is to evenly distribute business information to search engines all over the place, making sure to send the right info to the right search engine. Back in the day NAPW would help businesses rank locally on Google Maps, but that’s not the case anymore.
What are the positives of data aggregators?
We are so glad you asked!
1) The biggest advantage to data aggregators is that they are easy and require no energy or resources on the business’s part to manage.
They are easy for agencies and businesses that have business listing management or listing optimization on their list of services. Data aggregators are scalable for these types of businesses. In other words, an agency or business can manage 1,000’s of listings without doing much. Keep in mind: This is only a business listing distribution service, not a business listing optimization service. There is a difference...a BIG difference.
2) Data aggregators are cheap. You can pay for a service like Moz local for less than $100 a year and agencies get a break in cost depending on how many locations they manage. By using Moz you will be distributed on all the major aggregators. They even have a great dashboard (warning: it’s not always accurate).
What’s not so good about aggregators?
1) Data aggregators don’t work instantaneously. Once you upload your information to an aggregator, it could take months before the aggregator starts working its magic and spreading the business’s NAPW.
2) Your current NAPW may get replaced. If you’ve painstakingly entered your business listings into a few of the endless list of search engines, the data aggregators will sometimes override that information. Yup, you got it. The aggregators will destroy the information with no sympathy for the hard work you put in carefully inputting that info into the search engines or listing sites.
3) The aggregators don’t always get it right. If you actually go to one of the search engines that list your business’s information via a data aggregator, more often than not the aggregators will have some or all of your NAPW listed wrong. Your hours are six at night to six in the morning, your website links to that weird Siberian Chipmunk Rescue, and you’re located in the middle of the Pacific. . . It can be frustrating (trying to get to the middle of the Pacific. And then you’re not even there.).
4) You don’t have any control over these listings. On the off chance that you do have control, you’ll need to manually claim the listing to change some of the information. The only way that will happen, though is if the site will allow you to manually claim the listing in the first place. If not then you are stuck with whatever way a particular search engine feels like displaying your business details.
This causes further problems. If one site has your information listed incorrectly, the chances are that’s how it will feed into other sites. At this point you’ve probably pulled your hair out because the entire point of using one or all of the data aggregators for even business listing distribution is to get the NAPW details correct.
5) Duplicates! Often times if a listing already exists on one of the search engines, then the aggregators will create another one and most of the time the information is conflicting. As long as (you guessed it) the NAPW details are correct on the duplicate listing(s) then it won’t hurt your local rankings (we will get into the discussion of ranking further down in the article).
Using the data aggregators as a way to manage your listings means you don’t own your listings. Okay, no one really owns their business listings—the actual site does. However, you don’t have any control over your listings using the aggregators. That means you can’t log into that search engine site, change the NAPW details, upload photographs and so on. Most importantly you can’t respond to reviews. Something we are very concerned about at WebPunch is the ability to respond to reviews and this is very important to consider! Essentially you are renting your listings and as a tenant on that search engine you have zero power.
How do we suggest managing your business listings?
Take the time to manually enter your business’s details into only the most important sites (Google, Yelp, Bing, Yelp, Superpages, Yellowpage, Facebook, Foursquare, Angie’s List, Houzz etc.). Take the time to create a username and password for each site because you only have to manage a few of them—it will not be as daunting a task as it seems.
This will get you to where you need to go, will allow you to have more control of your business listings by giving you the ability to respond to reviews, upload photographs, and you can always make sure your business’s NAPW is correct.
Trust us, this is all you need.
Will using data aggregators help businesses rank locally?
Nope! Over the last year WebPunch has conducted a series of experiments where we will take a business who is not ranking in their local markets and do nothing other than load them into all four of the major data aggregators. Not once did it change the ranking of that business. There are many other things like social interactions, links, website, keywords, content, Google My Business (GMB) that take into consideration online reviews (we love that one), photos, business name etc.
Hint, it’s no longer about business listings! You’ve heard that right. Data aggregators are kinda worthless, sorry Moz Local, we still love you.
We say ditch the aggregators and manually claim your business listing on the important sites. This will allow you to have more control over the listing and respond to any online reviews. You will be able to develop a business listing optimization solution for your business versus a boring ole’ business listing distribution.
Get in there and take control!