Post last updated: November 2016
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 six popular citation services and list the pros and cons of each.
Yes, there are many other citation listing 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 Building 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 and from feedback from others who have used other services and reported back to me.
We will publish all* comments made on this post so that service providers, customers and readers can share their comments and advice as well. This way our readers will get maximum value from this resource.
*Caveat: Any comments which are purely self-promotional or link-grabbing will be deleted.
Index of Contents
This post is pretty long! So to help you jump to the part that you’re most interested in, we’ve made it easy to go straight to the information you want:
- What is a Citation?
- Direct-to-site vs Data Aggregator Submissions
- Comparison of Direct-to-site Submission Services
- Comparison of Local Data Aggregator Submission Services
- Overview of Yext
- Overview of Moz Local
- Overview of BrightLocal
- Overview of Whitespark
- Overview of Advice Local
- Overview of Synup
Rewind….What are citations and why are they important?
Citations (aka Online Local Business Directory Listings) are a key part of local search optimization. A citation is a mention of your business on a third-party website – typically a local business directory, event site, industry/niche directory or review site. These mentions contain your Business’ Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) but the listing can (and should) contain much more details about your business, like a description of your products or services, business hours, types of payments accepted, images, etc.
Having lots of citations that all display the exact same, accurate info about your business can help improve your ranking in local search results. Accuracy and ‘quality’ of your citation listings is considered the most important factor — sheer quantity has value but is trumped by quality (see recent Expert Citation Survey Results). Keep in mind that not all Citation sites are equal in the eyes of Google, Bing and Yahoo! Make sure that you only work with and get listed on quality Citation sites.
Cleaning up inaccurate data, merging duplicate listings and creating new listings is a critical part of local search optimization.
However manually going through each site to find, update or add a listing yourself is very repetitive and time consuming. But there is help at hand! In this post we compare six 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.
Direct-to-Site Submissions vs Aggregator Submissions
Citation building can be handled in a number of ways. Broadly these fall into two camps:
Citation service providers go direct to the directories/citations sites they use and update or submit business data to them. This process is either done manually by real, actual people or it’s done via automated means – typically via APIs or data-uploads direct into directory databases.
Data Aggregator Distribution
Local Data Aggregators curate data about local businesses and sell or distribute that data to third-party directories, mobile apps, GPS providers, etc.
USA vs. other countries
This review is USA-centric, focusing on citation listing services that are 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 four central data aggregators (Acxiom, InfoUSA, Neustar/Localeze and Factual) that distribute their data out to the wider universe of directories and citation sites.
In the overview of each service further down the page I briefly mention which countries they operate in and how big their networks are in each country.
This aggregator model doesn’t really exist in other countries, although there are some smaller aggregators and even some directories that re-distribute data to other directories. ‘Factual’ is an international data provider so it has data on businesses in many/most countries.