We see a lot of questions in forums and blog comments asking ‘which citation service is best?’ So we thought we’d provide a useful resource that compares 5 popular citation services, and lists the pros & cons of each.
Yes there are other services out there, and yes if we had more time we’d like to cover them all; but for the sake of efficiency and time I have opted to cover what I see as the most prominent services in the market (apologies to other providers that I have overlooked).
It goes without saying that I have included our own Citation Service ‘CitationBurst’ in this list. I have tried to remain impartial and give a genuine, unbiased view of each service using the information I have available to me through our own trials & testimony of many others who have used & reported back on each service.
We will publish all* comments left on this post so that service providers, customers & readers can share their comments & advise. Then readers will get maximum value from this resource.
*Caveat – any comments which are pure self-promotion & link-grabbing will be edited.
Rewind…. What is a citation & why are they important?
Citations (aka Local Directory Listings) are a key part of local search optimization. A citation is a mention of your business on a 3rd party website –typically a local directory, event site or review site. These mentions contain your Business name, Address & Phone Number (NAP) but they can (and should) contain much more detail such as a description of services, working hours, images etc…
Having lots of citations which all display the same, accurate info about your business helps to improve your ranking in local search results. Accuracy & ‘quality’ of your listings is considered the most important factor – sheer quantity of citations has value but is trumped by quality (see recent Expert Citation Survey Results).
So cleaning up inaccurate data, merging duplicate listings and creating new listings is a critical part of local search optimization.
However the act of manually going through each site to find, update or add a listing yourself is very time consuming and repetitive. But there is help at hand! In this post we compare 5 well-known local listing services and present essential facts that you need to know so that you can select the best service for your needs.
USA vs. other countries
This review is USA-centric in that it focuses on services which are all available in the USA, but only some are available outside the USA.
The US local data market is more evolved and structured than other countries. There are central data aggregators (Acxiom, InfoUSA, NeustarLocaleze, Factual) that distribute their data out to the wider universe of directories & citation sites.
This aggregator model doesn’t really exist in other countries, although there are some smaller aggregators & even some directories that re-distribute data to other directories. ‘Factual’ is an international data provider so has data on businesses in many/most countries.
Overview: Citation Services Compared
|Create new listings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Create account / listings claimed||Yes||No||Some||Yes||No|
|Sites in Network*||1,600+||53+||100+||Unknown||8+|
|Countries||USA, Can, UK, Aus||USA||USA, Can, UK, Aust||10 inc. USA, Can, UK, Aust||USA|
|Speed of Updates||Fast||Fast||Medium||Fast||Slow|
|Cost||$2-3 / Citation||$250-500||$79-$399||$4-5 / Citation||$49 / Year|
|Ongoing Costs||No||Yes - annual||Yes - annual||No||Yes - annual|
*Sites in network – because all services submit to some/all aggregators and then aggregators distribute data onto 3rd party sites/services it’s not clear the eventual reach that each service has.
Overview of Yext
Yext offers a 1-stop solution for taking control of approx. 50 of your online & mobile listings and managing them through one Yext dashboard. They have a direct pipe (an API) into the directories, mapping services & mobile apps in their network so they can take control of your listings & publish edits & new listings quickly. As a Yext client you also get a more prominent listing on some directories (a ‘PowerListing’) that helps you standout from other businesses. Yext charge an annual, recurring fee so once you start using them you are meant to maintain your ‘subscription year after year – cancelling your account has some repercussions (see below).
5 ‘must know’ facts about Yext
- Submit direct to 50+ different local directories, mapping services & mobile apps
- You can quickly update data at any time & also promote special offers
- Yext provide clear reports & analytics on listing performance
- Yext charge a recurring, annual fee – not 1 off cost
- Yext don’t submit into any of the data aggregators
- $250 – $500 (guide price)
- Its hard to get a definitive price on Yext. They have an advertised price of $500 but most people can secure a discount if they play hard to get &/or have multiple locations.
Positives & Negatives of Yext
|Manage 53 of your listings through 1 dashboard||It’s expensive & cost is recurring each year|
|Take control quickly & make updates when you need||When you stop using Yext the listing data reverts back to pre-Yext state|
|Get more prominence on directories through ‘Power Listings’||Only submit to 50 sites - not main aggregators|
|Good reporting & listing analytics||Can’t select which sites you submit to – fixed list|
|Submit to many powerful directories & map services||Reputation of being very sales focused with high churn rate|
Key question: What happens if I stop using Yext?
The Yext data feeds into their partners stop after 1 year (unless you repay for another 12 months). Enhanced listing info that was added via Yext (e.g. images, working hours) will be removed from the listings immediately. Basic listing data (e.g. NAP) can revert to pre-Yext state because it loses it’s ‘locked’ (aka trusted) state with each of the directories/services Yext feeds into.
My opinion on Yext
Yext have done a decent job of getting the technology side right, although they haven’t (by many accounts*) sorted out how to merge or remove duplicate listings yet. They do charge a lot for using their service and if you stop paying them your listing info can revert to its old state which may be wrong/incomplete**. In this sense I consider them to be the equivalent of PPC for listings – they offer a quick solution to sort your listing data out but once you stop paying all the benefits quickly stop. They also don’t submit to many sites considering there are hundreds of citation sites in the US.
Reviews from around the web about Yext
- *Yext issues with duplicate listings
- **Listings created through Yext revert to pre-Yext state
- Review & forum discussion about Yext
Overview of MozLocal
MozLocal provide a service focused on distributing data via Aggregators. They allow you to update or submit listing details to the big 4 aggregators + Foursquare, and 3 other directories. You can run a useful listing audit on their service to see where you do & don’t have listings and you can see where that data is complete, incomplete or even duplicated. You can upload a CSV of your listing data (for 1 or many locations) and then submit this data to their network for a charge of $49 per year.
5 ‘must know’ facts about MozLocal
- MozLocal submits to all 5 US aggregators (doesn’t work for non-US biz)
- Good audit tool to view existing listing completeness & duplicates
- You can update listings & re-verify listing data at any time
- Charge an annual fee – need to commit to maintain trusted status of data
- Listings go live slower due to delays in aggregator distribution*
*See data distribution timeline – https://getlisted.org/static/resources/listing_time_to_live.pdf
- $49 per location per year
Positives & Negatives of MozLocal
|Submits to all big aggregators for relatively low charge||Slow updates – listing changes can take 2-3 months|
|Manage multiple locations in 1 dashboard||Recurring annual fee – failure to pay means data may revert back|
|Good audit tool that shows duplicate listings||Don’t create accounts/claim listings on all local directories|
|Well supported by a knowledgeable team||Reports are not white-label & can’t be emailed to clients (yet)|
|Data can only be uploaded via CSV – no online interface (yet)|
*This issue is not of Moz’s making – this is an aggregator issue and is a flaw in an Aggregator-only approach to listings.
Key question: What happens if I stop using MozLocal?
(taken from Moz Local FAQs) Moz Local will simply report to the sites in our network that the listing is no longer under management by one of our customers. In this event, Acxiom and Neustar Localeze will revert your listings to their status prior to your Moz Local subscription. In some cases, your other listings will lose enhanced content like website URL, secondary category information, logos, and other images.
My opinion on MozLocal
The team behind MozLocal have excellent pedigree in understanding the local market and developing strong SaaS tools. MozLocal is a useful tool for checking listing status and for managing submissions to aggregators at low cost – by comparison Localeze alone can cost up to $247 for a singal location! It’s nice to hit all 5 aggregators in 1 go and manage that in 1 place. The downsides are that listings are not claimed on each site, which means other people can claim your listings instead of you. Data can also revert if the feed into aggregators isn’t paid annually. And there can be long lead times for the data to go live on some sites & have an impact in Google (2-3 months). Many local biz owners are too impatient to wait this long and agencies need to show results sooner to keep clients happy.
Reviews from around the web about MozLocal
Overview of BrightLocal
We have been building citations for customers for over 4 years. We have an in-house team of 30 submission agents & managers. We submit direct to site and have a database of 1,600 citation sites. We also submit to 2 aggregators and are adding 2 more shortly. We have smart & easy-to-use interfaces for setting up campaigns, selecting citations & detailed reporting. We operate in 4 countries – US, Canada, UK & Australia and offer clean-up of existing submissions and new submissions.
5 ‘must know’ facts about BrightLocal
- We submit direct to each site & claim your listings (1,600 sites)
- 1 time cost – no recurring charges
- You can select exact quantity of submissions & which sites to use
- Guarantee that 70% of submissions go live in 4 weeks of submission
- We operate in US, Canada, UK & Australia
- $2-3 per submission (= $100-$150 for 50 submissions)
Positives & Negatives of BrightLocal
Positives Negatives Guarantee that 70% of submissions go live in 4 weeks Don’t currently submit to Factual or Localeze (yet) In-house team of 30 experienced submission agents/managers Don’t provide custom citation research (can do for larger customers) You select number of submissions & choose the sites Don’t guarantee that ALL submissions will go live Charge 1 time cost – no recurring fee Submit to mix of aggregators & direct to most site Create & claim accounts on directories Clear online interface & campaign reports
Key Question: What happens if I stop using BrightLocal?
As 95% of our submissions are direct to site rather than into aggregators, the majority of listings are claimed & ‘owned’ by the customer so data remains intact in future. But for any aggregator listings, after 1 year the feeds from aggregators into 3rd party sites lose their ‘managed’ status.
My opinion on BrightLocal
I can’t really provide an opinion of BrightLocal without it being biased. So all I’ll say is that we have completed over 300,000 submissions for more than 5,000 businesses and have lots of repeat customers. We have a big enough team to deliver citations at scale but also maintain focus on quality of citations delivered.
Reviews from the web about BrightLocal
The majority of info & reviews on BrightLocal are our tools & reports, not about CitationBurst. So we haven’t included these because they’re not relevant to this study.
Overview of UBL
UBL are a specialist local listing service that provide submission services in USA, UK, Canada & Australia. They provide a blend of aggregator submissions & direct to site submissions. They have a range of packages which include distribution via 2 main aggregators & 10 direct submissions. They also offer additional services such as creation of online ‘webcard’ which is effectively another citation & management of Google+ Local listings.
5 ‘must know’ facts about UBL
- Submit to mix of aggregators & direct to site
- Can handle set-up & claiming of Google+ Local listings
- Can handle Facebook & Twitter account creation
- Charge is annual to keep trusted data status in directories
- Operate in USA, Canada, UK & Australia
- $79 – $399 per location per year
Positives & Negatives of UBL
|Specialist & dedicated submission service||Don’t submit data all main aggregators|
|Combine aggregator & direct submissions||Can’t select which sites you submit to – fixed list|
|Can claim & submit directly to Google+ Local||Charge an annual fee to maintain listing trusted status*|
|Can claim & submit directly to Facebook & Twitter||Don’t create accounts/claim listings on all directories|
|Handle phone verification on some sites||Listings via aggregators can take 2-3 months to go live|
*This issue is not of UBLs making – this is an aggregator issue and is a flaw in an Aggregator focused approach to listings.
Key question: What happens if I stop using UBL?
After 1 year the feeds from aggregators into 3rd party sites lose their ‘managed’ status. Listings with Acxiom & Localeze revert to status prior to using UBL. Any direct listings with claimed profiles remain intact & ‘’owned’ by customer.
My opinion on UBL
UBL are a specialist listing service. They sit somewhere between SaaS service provider & outsource agency. They’re pricing is economical at lower package levels but expensive at top end. They offer a good blend of aggregator submissions & direct submissions however they don’t submit via 2 key aggregators. They submit to Google+ Local which is a plus point for those who don’t want to do this themselves.
Reviews from the web about UBL
Overview of Whitespark
Whitespark are a well known SEO & web design agency based in Canada. They run a popular CitationFinder tool and also offer citation building services in 10 countries. They operate more like a citation agency than a citation service provider. They offer bespoke citation research & citation clean up based on the specific client/location they work on. They partner with a 3rd party business OptiLocal to deliver citations.
5 ‘must know’ facts about Whitespark
- Have a strong team with great local knowledge/citation knowhow
- Submit to mix of aggregators & direct to site
- 1-off/adhoc cost – no recurring charges
- Offer a more custom citation service – akin to an agency
- Don’t guarantee that submissions will go live (‘expect’ 30%+ to go live)
- $4-5 per submission (= $200-$250 for 50 submissions)
Positives & Negatives of Whitespark
|Offer custom citation clean-up & research service||Don’t offer guarantee that submissions will go live|
|1 time cost – no recurring fee||Don’t submit to Google Places/+ Local|
|Submit to aggregators & direct to certain sites||Reporting limited to CSV – no online/PDF reports|
|Create accounts on directories which clients own/access||Outsource some citation work to 3rd party (OptiLocal)|
|You select number of submissions & which sites used||Have limited citation databases outside of Canada & USA|
Key Question: What happens if I stop using Whitespark?
Whitespark do a lot of direct to site submissions. Therefore any direct listings with claimed profiles remain intact & ‘’owned’ by customer. But for aggregator listings, after 1 year the feeds from aggregators into 3rd party sites lose their ‘managed’ status.
My opinion on Whitespark
The team at Whitespark have great local knowledge, good reputations and know the citation market well. They provide a good custom service which is what some local businesses want & need, but would struggle to deliver citations at scale. I believe that they cater more to business owners rather than search consultants/agencies. They charge more per submission than other services (e.g. 25-40% more than BrightLocal) and only don’t offer any guarantee that submissions will go live – suggest that 30% of their submissions will turn into live listings.
Reviews from the web about WhiteSpark
The majority of info & reviews on WhiteSpark are for their CitationFinder tool not their citation service which isn’t really relevant to this study.
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