Post last updated: March 2021
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.
For example, those looking to compare Moz Local pricing and Synup pricing have come to the right place.
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’ve opted to cover what I see as the most prominent services in the market (with apologies to other providers that I have overlooked).
It goes without saying that I’ve included our own Citation Building Service ‘Citation Builder’ in this list. I’ve tried to remain impartial and give a genuine, unbiased view of each service using the information available through our own trials, from platform websites, and from feedback from others who have reported back to me after using these services.
We will publish all* comments made on this post so that service providers, customers, and readers can share their comments and advice as well.
*Caveat: comments that 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 vs API Submissions
- Comparison of Direct-to-site Submission Services
- Comparison of Local Data Aggregator Submission Services
- Yext Review
- Moz Local Review
- BrightLocal Review
- Whitespark Review
- Advice Local Review
- Synup Review
Rewind….What are citations and why are they important?
Citations (a.k.a. local business listings) are a key part of local search optimization. A citation is any 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 (also known together as NAP) but the listing can (and should) contain many more details about your business, like a description of your products or services, business hours, types of payments accepted, images, etc.
You can learn more about the importance of citations (and see examples) by reading our complete guide to local citations.
Having lots of citations that all display the exact same, accurate info about your business can potentially help improve your ranking in local search results. Accuracy and ‘quality’ of your citation listings is considered the most important citation factor — sheer quantity has value but is trumped by quality (see our Expert Local 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 vs API Submissions
Citation building can be handled in a number of ways. Broadly, these fall into three 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 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.
Providers offering APIs will sync your location data across the publishers they have a contract with on a rental model. They’re generally used by large brands that need to change online data incredibly regularly across a very large pool of locations, such as McDonald’s, Hilton, and Arby’s.
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 in other countries. There are three central data aggregators (Data Axle, Foursquare, and Neustar) 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 redistribute data to other directories.
Direct-to-Site Submission Services Compared
|Feature||BrightLocal||Moz Local||Yext||Advice Local||Synup||Whitespark|
|Bulk Discount||33% = $2/listing||Yes - negotiable||Yes - negotiable||Yes - negotiable||33% = $240/yr||Yes - Depends on $ Spend|
|Countries||10 – inc USA, CA, UK, AU||USA, CA, UK||50+||USA, CA||USA, CA||All|
|Sites Submitted To||1,000||13||84||44||69||1,000|
|Create New Listings|
|Update Existing Listings|
|Remove Duplicate Listings|
|Data is Permanent|
|Google My Business|
*Whitespark also offer a citation cleanup package for $14-18/listing.
**Advice Local can claim Google My Business listings.
***These services operate on a recurring-payment basis. If you stop paying them your data loses its trusted status so it may be overwritten by data from other unofficial sources. Yext will also remove certain data points from your listings on the directories they supply to and your listings will revert to pre-Yext state.
****Moz Local submits to these sites through a partnership with NavAds.
Data Aggregator Submission Services Compared
|Feature||BrightLocal||Moz Local||Yext||Advice Local||Synup||WhiteSpark|
|Aggregators Submitted To*||4||4||2||4||2||4|
|Recurring Fee||$60/year (optional)||$199/year||$499/year||$100/year||$360/year||$129/year (optional)|
|Create New Listings|
|Can Order Aggregators|
|Update Existing Listings|
|Remove Duplicate Listings|
*This comparison focuses solely on USA data aggregator services. Factual is the only aggregator that operates outside of the USA and can be used for businesses in all other countries.
Yext offers a one-stop solution for taking control of approximately 100+ of your online and mobile listings and managing them in one place, through the Yext dashboard. They have a direct pipe (an API) into the directories, mapping services and mobile apps in their network so they can take control of your listings and publish edits, and new and updated 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 products come with 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).
It’s also worth noting that Yext has a number of partners that it works with to resell listing management. These include companies such as SEMrush, Vendasta, and Go Higher Level.
What other countries does Yext work in?
- USA – 86 sites
- UK – 46 sites
- Canada – 36 sites
- Australia – 27 sites
- France – 23 sites
- Germany – 36 sites
- Italy – 25 sites
- Portugal – 20 sites
- Spain – 24 sites
- And 70+ other countries
5 ‘must know’ facts about Yext
- Submit direct to 100+ different local directories, mapping services and mobile apps
- You can quickly update data at any time and also promote special offers
- Yext provides clear reports and analytics on listing performance
- Yext charges a recurring, annual fee – not a one-off cost
- Yext only submits to two data aggregators – Factual and Foursquare
- $499/location per year*
- Bulk discounts are negotiable down to approximately $250/location/year
*It’s 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 and/or have multiple locations.
Pros and Cons of Yext
|Manage 100+ of your listings through 1 dashboard||It’s expensive and cost is recurring each year|
|Take control quickly and make updates when you need||When you stop using Yext the listing data reverts back to pre-Yext state|
|Get great standout on directories through ‘Power Listing' features||Many of the 100+ sites submitted to are low value|
|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|
|Don't submit to all data aggregators (only Factual and Foursquare)|
|No free trial to test the systems|
|No online chat support|
Key question: What happens if you stop using Yext?
The Yext data that feeds into their partners’ sites stops after one year (unless you pay for a further 12 months.) Enhanced listing info that was added via Yext (e.g. images, working hours, bios, menus, etc.) will be removed from the listings immediately. Basic listing data (e.g. NAP) can revert to a pre-Yext state because it loses its ‘locked’ (aka trusted) state with each of the directories/services Yext feeds into.
If you’re an existing Yext customer and are looking for an alternative business listings solution, at BrightLocal we offer a complete switching service in the form of our Yext Replacement Service.
My opinion on Yext
Yext has 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 of money 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 them all the benefits quickly stop. They also don’t submit to many sites considering there are hundreds of citation sites in the US.
Many of the services within Yext’s network have questionable value – e.g. GPS providers which are not relevant for many business types and can’t be crawled by Google so they have limited local SEO value.
So you pay to get listed on 100+ sites but many of them don’t add much value to your local listing profile.
Compare features and pricing of Yext and BrightLocal
Reviews from around the web about Yext
- *Yext issues with duplicate listings
- **Listings created through Yext revert to pre-Yext state
- G2 Crowd – 4.4/5 stars from 166 reviews
- Google Reviews – 3.9/5 stars from 182 reviews
Moz Local Review
Those looking at all options for a listing service could consider using Moz Local. Moz Local provides a service focused on distributing data via a combination of data aggregators and select directories and GPS services in their network.
Moz partnered with Uberall in June 2019 and updated its offering. They offer two packages. Their ‘Basic’ plan comes in at $129 per year and only submits to 8 directories, plus 5 GPS services, which give very little coverage of the ecosystem.
Moz’s ‘Plus’ plan is more complete as it includes the data aggregators, however, the $199 per year price tag is quite steep for what you’re getting. You can run a useful listing audit on their service to see where you do and 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 one or many locations).
Moz connects directly to Google My Business and Facebook so you can push and pull your data from both sources.
6 ‘must know’ facts about Moz Local
- Moz Local submits to all four US aggregators
- Provide a good audit tool to view existing listing completeness and duplicates
- Ability to update listings and re-verify listing data at any time
- Charge an annual fee – you need to commit to maintain trusted status of data
- No white-label reporting option
- Their basic plan $129 /year, but doesn’t cover many sites, however, the $199 /year plan has far better coverage
- Moz Local has recently partnered up with Uberall so they are essentially re-selling Uberall to the US market
Moz Local in the UK
Moz Local also offers listing distribution in the UK. They submit via Central Index and Scoot which gets your data on seven sites and a network of local newspaper sites. In reality, this aggregator doesn’t have such extensive networks as the US aggregators do (not Moz’s fault, just the way the UK market is.)
Moz Local Pricing
- $129 per location per year
Pros and Cons of Moz Local
|Good coverage of ecosystem with $199 plan and aggregators||Slow updates for main sites – listing changes can take 2-3 months when managed through aggregators*|
|Manage multiple locations in 1 dashboard||Recurring annual fee – failure to pay means data may revert back|
|Good audit tool that shows duplicate listings||Do not create accounts/claim listings on all local directories|
|Well supported by a knowledgeable team||No white-label reporting option for agencies|
|Success Assurance Program for clients with >100 locations||Only submit to 8 directories directly and 5 GPS services on $129 plan (need to pay $199 for aggregators)|
*This issue is not of Moz’s making – this is an aggregator issue and is a flaw in an aggregator-only approach to listings management.
Key question: What happens if I stop using Moz Local?
Taken from Moz Local FAQs: “Moz Local will simply report to the sites in their network that the listing is no longer under management by Moz. 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 Moz Local
The team behind Moz Local has an excellent pedigree in understanding the local market and developing strong SaaS tools. Moz Local is a useful tool for checking listing status and for managing submissions to aggregators.
The downsides are that their direct network is missing many big US directories E.G. yp.com and yelp.com. Instead, they can list your business on named sites via the aggregators, however, the 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 the aggregators isn’t paid annually. There can also be long lead times for the data to go live on some sites which can have an impact on Google (2-3 months). Many local business owners are too impatient to wait this long, and agencies need to show results sooner to keep clients happy.
Compare features and pricing of Moz Local & BrightLocal
Now we come to BrightLocal, which I’m of course pretty familiar with!
What we offer is a hybrid citation building solution that can combine manual, direct-to-site submissions with automated distribution via local data aggregators. This gives the user complete flexibility in choosing how they want to build their citations, be it via direct submissions only, aggregators only, or a mixture of both.
With the manual, direct-to-site submissions, they are built by our own in-house team of 80+ expert listing agents who handle over 60,000 citations submissions every month. The knowledge, skill, speed and accuracy of these hard-working agents mean we are able to guarantee at least 70% of submissions will be live within just four weeks of submission.
The sites themselves are presented in a self-select, checkbox format, giving the user complete control of the sites they are to be listed on. This flexibility suits customers who know exactly what they want, but can initially feel a little complicated for those who are less knowledgeable and want a simple, prepackaged solution.
For this reason we offer further assistance by automatically pre-ordering citation lists by Domain Authority, as well as providing the option to order it by our own proprietary ranking — Citation Value. In this way, regardless of technical knowledge the user can be sure they are choosing only the best sites for their business.
Our manual submission service operates in 10 countries worldwide, including US, Canada, UK, and Australia.
5 ‘must know’ facts about BrightLocal
- Offer manual citation building and data aggregator distribution
- Charge $2-3/listing for manual submissions and $60/year for aggregator submissions
- You can select exact quantity of submissions and which sites to use
- Guarantee that 70% of submissions go live within four weeks of submission
- Aggregator submissions come with free 12-month updates
- Manual, direct-to-site submissions – $2-3 per listing
- Data Aggregator submissions – $60/year
Pros and Cons of BrightLocal
One-time cost, with no annual recurring fee to keep your listings live Don’t guarantee that ALL submissions will go live
Most cost-effective solution in the market for both manual and aggregator submissions Listings via aggregators can take 2-3 months to go live*
Can claim and submit directly to GoogleMyBusiness Experienced, in-house team of 80+ submission agents. Citation work is not outsourced to a third-party business Can select individually, or, submit to all 4 data aggregators Flexibility to submit to aggregators and direct-to-site Create and claim accounts on directories Directories used regularly updated to ensure high authority, responsive sites 70% live listings guaranteed Monitor the listings to make sure they get published, rather than just switching on a data feed Simple online interface and reporting
*This issue is not of BrightLocal’s making – this is an aggregator issue and is a flaw in an aggregator-only approach to listings management.
Key Question: What happens if I stop using BrightLocal?
As 90% of our submissions are direct to site rather than into aggregators, the majority of listings are claimed and ‘owned’ by the customer so data remains intact in the future. This is one of the key benefits of using a direct to site service over an API solution, like Yext. However, for any aggregator listings ordered, after one year the feeds from aggregators into third-party sites lose their ‘managed’ status. As such, we advise customers to renew their submissions to aggregators every 12 months to maintain their trusted data status – this renewal can be done directly or via BrightLocal for $60.
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 600,000 submissions for more than 30,000 businesses and have lots of very happy repeat customers. We have a big enough team to deliver citations at scale but also maintain focus on quality of citations delivered.
What countries does BrightLocal work in?
- South Africa
Reviews from the web about BrightLocal
- TrustPilot – 4.7/5 stars from 394 reviews
- Google Reviews – 4.8/5 stars from 216 reviews
- G2 – 4.5/5 from 111 reviews
Whitespark is a well-known software and citation services provider based in Canada. They run a full suite of software including the Whitespark Citation Finder (also known as the Local Citation Finder), Local Rank Tracker, Reputation Builder, and offer some other free tools as well.
They offer citation building services in 11 countries and operate like a citation service provider. They offer bespoke citation research and citation clean-up based on the specific client/location they work on. They partner with a third-party business, OptiLocal, to deliver citations.
There are no recurring aggregator fees. They claim existing listings and go through the phone verification process.
5 ‘must know’ facts about Whitespark
- Have a strong team with great local knowledge/citation know-how
- Submit to mix of aggregators and direct to site
- One-off/ad hoc cost – no recurring charges
- Offer a customized citation service
- Guarantee that 70% submissions will go live (at the time of submission you can expect about 30% to be live)
- $4-5 per listing (or $14-18/listing for their citation cleanup package)
Pros and Cons of Whitespark
|Offer custom citation clean-up & research service||Outsource some citation work to 3rd party (OptiLocal)|
|One time cost – no recurring fee||More expensive than BrightLocal|
|Submit to aggregators & direct to certain sites||No integration with social media platforms|
|Create accounts on directories which clients own/access|
|You select number of submissions & which sites used|
Key Question: What happens if I stop using Whitespark?
Whitespark does a lot of direct-to-site submissions. Therefore any direct listings with claimed profiles remain intact and ‘’owned’ by customer.
My opinion on Whitespark
The team at Whitespark have great local knowledge, good reputations and know the citation market well. They provide good customer service which is what some local businesses want and need. They cater to agencies and enterprise businesses. They charge more per submission than other services (e.g. 33-66% more than BrightLocal for Manual Submissions and 114% more than BrightLocal for Data Aggregator Submissions).
Compare features and pricing of Whitespark & BrightLocal
Reviews from the web about WhiteSpark
Founded in 2014 and based in India, Synup offers both local search reporting and local listing management, although their primary focus and billing structure is focused is on local listings.
They automatically submit to 69 sites in their network. Most of their sites are US-centric – although some sites, like Facebook, Google Local, and Factual, are international.
Their reporting covers local listings, business reviews and search rankings.
They primarily work with SMBs but do offer white-label services and reporting to SEO agencies.
5 ‘must know’ facts about Synup
- They offer basic local search reporting included within $30/month fee
- Only works for US-based businesses
- You need to sign up for a 12-month+ deal
- Offer instant updates on 42 sites and you can purchase extra updates on 150 sites
- Offer discount pricing for multiple locations
- $30/month ($360/year – 12-month agreement)
- $20/month for 1,000+ locations (12-month agreement)
Pros and Cons of Synup
|Offer instant data-syncing with 42 sites||Charge a monthly recurring fee with annual commitment|
|Can also submit data to additional 150 sites||Submitting to additional 150 sites costs extra|
|Submit to Google My Business||Some sites in their network are low value|
|Provide reputation monitoring tools||Don't guarantee listing update success|
|Provide additional SEO reports - e.g. rankings||Only works for US & Canada-based businesses|
|Provide white-label reporting options||Cost per location is higher than comparable servcies|
|No integration with Google My Business|
My opinion on Synup
Of all the services reviewed, Synup is the one I know least about. I believe that they target SMBs/local businesses more than agencies. At $360/year (12 x $30) they aren’t the cheapest solution available but you do get reporting and local listing updates for this amount. I did try their local submission service back in 2012 and it wasn’t good but they have developed a lot since then so may be much better now. Certainly their dashboard and website look much better than earlier versions.
Compare features and pricing of Synup & BrightLocal
Reviews from the web about Synup
Advice Local Review
Advice Local is a specialist local listing service that provides submission services in the USA. They typically work with SEO agencies and through channel partners and re-sellers – i.e. not with local businesses directly.
They provide both local search reporting (e.g. rankings, listings audit, review audit) as well as a blend of data aggregator submissions and direct to site submissions.
They offer a range of submission packages from $390/year which include distribution via aggregators, direct submission to top 35 directories and reputation monitoring reports.
5 ‘must know’ facts about Advice Local
- Submit to mix of aggregators and direct to site
- Can handle setup and claiming of Google My Business listings
- Can handle Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest account creation
- Provide reporting as well as submission services
Advice Local Pricing
- $300+ per year
|Specialist local submission service||Cost is higher than comparable services|
|Combine aggregator and direct-to-site submissions||Recurring Annual Fee|
|Can claim and submit directly to Google My Business||You can’t select which sites you submit to – use fixed lists|
|Can claim and submit directly to Facebook and Twitter||Listings via aggregators can take 2-3 months to go live*|
|Provide white-label reports for agencies||Don’t create accounts/claim listings on all directories|
|Submit to niche-industry sites for certain industries||No Google Analytics integration|
|Moving away from manual to automatic submissions so no owning of listing|
*This issue is not of Advice Local’s 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 Advice Local?
After one year the feeds from aggregators into third-party sites lose their ‘managed’ status. Listings with aggregators will revert to status prior to using Advice Local. Any direct-to-site listings with claimed profiles remain intact and ‘owned’ by customer.
My opinion on Advice Local
Advice Local has been around for a long time and has a solid reputation. They really focus on local listing management and serving SMBs via channel partners and agencies. Their pricing is economical at lower package levels but expensive at the top end, and I question the value.
They have developed some vertical (aka ‘niche’) submission packages for five industries – Legal, Healthcare, Home Services, Financial Services and Restaurants. There are roughly 5-6 sites in each category and cost $99 + $20/month ($339/year all in). That is expensive and you can submit to most of these directories via BrightLocal for just $2/$3 per directory.
Compare features and pricing of Advice Local & BrightLocal
Got a different viewpoint on this subject? Have we got something wrong? Send us an email to let us know.