Mockingbird’s Love Affair With Yext

In honor of Valentine’s day hysteria earlier this week, we want to take this opportunity to profess our love for one of our favorite partners… Yext. It’s true, we love them, and (we think) they love us.

What is Yext?

“We put business on the map. Brands of all sizes use Yext to manage data about their locations across their websites, mobile apps, and internal systems.” (Yext)

Here is my own less eloquent explanation I use when explaining Yext to our clients: Yext is a tool that helps control your business data and listings across a multitude of important online directories, maps and apps.

How Mockingbird Uses Yext For Our Clients

Location data, or NAP (name, address, phone number), is a very important piece to the local search ranking puzzle. If you have inconsistent location data, Google and the other search engines won’t be inclined to show your business in search results because they can’t trust that it’s actually there. Google does not want to provide an incorrect address and accidentally send users to a laundromat instead of the law office they’re looking for.

In the good ole’ days when I first started at Mockingbird, I had the unfortunate job of “directory clean up.” Essentially, I would spend countless hours drudging through websites like InsiderPages, Foursquare, and Yelp in order to manually fix our clients’ inaccurate directory listings.  This clean up is an important duty, but one that comes with the simultaneous pain of monotony and frustration. While that work has not gone away completely, we now utilize Yext to help with the heavy lifting.

Instead of going through each directory individually, we now simply set up one complete and accurate listing in Yext and they push out that information to all of their digital partners.  We can now make sure that our client’s location data is accurate across most of the top and second tier online directories, maps, and apps – a whopping “100+ digital endpoints” in Yext’s own words.

Yext offers a slew of features to help businesses manage their data (analytics, reporting, review monitoring, social posting, etc.), but here are some of my personal favorites…

1. Duplicate Suppression

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate task of removing a duplicate listing from an online directory like Yelp, then you know how frustrating it can be. It’s often an annoying and unclear process that is ultimately futile. Yext’s duplicate suppression tool:

1) Finds potential duplicates and notifies you of the listing
2) Gives you an option to “ignore” or “suppress” the listing
3) Removes the duplicate through an “on-going signal to the publisher”
4) Gets the listing suppressed in 72 hours. This makes directory clean up exponentially easier

2. Data Field Options

While Yext allows you to control the most important pieces of location information (name, address, phone number, website), they don’t stop there. Yext gives you options that actually help you promote and market your business better. For example, you get to create a featured message that will show on your directory listings – we generally use this as a call-to-action like the example below.

Yext Featured Message

Along with the featured message, you get to utilize these other awesome data fields:

  • Business description
  • Business hours
  • Contact email
  • Payment methods
  • Link social accounts (Foursquare, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Business logo and photos
  • Add YouTube videos
  • Edit cover and profile photos for Google My Business and Facebook directly from Yext listing
  • Enhanced content like company calendar and staff bios

3. Control of Categories

Finding the correct category to describe your firm’s practice areas can be very tough on a lot of directories, and even Google My Business. This is one under-appreciated feature of Yext; their categories section is extremely robust. One of my clients specializes in lemon law and the closest matching category we can use in Google My Business is “Lawyer”, which is obviously not ideal. Here are her categories in Yext…

Yext Categories Lemon Law

Wrapping Up

Yext has been essential to our toolbox since 2014 and one of my personal favorite tools. We use it for all of our clients and we’re proud to be a Yext Certified Agency Partner. If you’re interested to find out more about Yext, local SEO, or what we do in general, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 206-209-2136. We would love to hear from you!

Yext Integrates Google Into PowerListings

From an outsider’s perspective, business location management is hardly considered a problem. For the unfortunate marketers and SEO’s doing the leg work, location data management is often a major issue. The most straight forward solution to fixing your business listing’s consistency across the web is to outsource to a third party provider, such as Yext. Tools like this have the capacity to simultaneously manage thousands of online business locations at once.

Google’s recent partnership with Yext grants all businesses the power to manage virtually every aspect of their location data. Yext mentioned that instead of having to worry about simply finding and correcting problems, the Google My Business API allows businesses to think about their data not only as data, but as a marketing tool. In other words, they can start utilizing and interacting with data rather than just reacting to what their data is representing.

The Google integration permits immediate data changes, such as special holiday business hours or unplanned closures. However, it’s important to note that while you can implement these changes immediately, Google has the final say over when your changes are actually published.

Google explained in a blog post last December that through the new Google My Business API, developers can:

  • Create business locations with information such as name, address, phone number, category, business hours, and more
  • Manage special hours
  • Mark a business location as permanently closed
  • Manage business photos
  • List, invite and remove managers on locations and business accounts
  • Read listing state to identify Google updated, duplicate and suspended locations
  • Search/Filter locations by name, category and label
  • Set the service area for a business either by specifying a point and radius or Place IDs

In part six of Mockingbird’s “Toolbox Webinars” series, we’ll walk you through the two most popular local business management tools: Moz Local and Yext. Learn why just buying these tools isn’t enough, why you need both of them, and more about Yext’s newly forged partnership with Google – a service previously only available to agencies and large buyers.

If you want to learn more about utilizing Yext for optimizing your local web presence, sign up for our webinar today!

8 Questions to Determine if your SEO Expert is… an SEO Expert

bambino con baffi fintiWhat follows is an admittedly arrogant post.  And I’m transgressing on a principle I teach my kids – you can’t build yourself up by knocking others down.  BUT… I keep talking to law firms, flummoxed by the lack of results from their SEO experts, only to find some really rudimentary mistakes.  What follows are a few questions to suss out just how expert your SEO talent really is.

1.  My site was hit by a Penguin Penalty – how do I get my traffic back?

Platitudes around the disavow process are often the answer to this question – and while disavow is important (and easy, if not tedious) – it is NOT sufficient.  A Penguin Penalty recovery involves not just removing the offending links, but replacing the value they had previously delivered to your site with new links. White hat linkbuilding is the hard, creative, uncertain, expensive and most valuable thing SEOs can do.  In fact, it is so difficult, that many “SEOs” don’t even try.

2.  How do you use Screaming Frog?

Screaming Frog is an extremely flexible tool used to scrape and analyze key elements of a domain at the page level.  It can identify everything from your duplicated title tags to broken links on competitors’ pages.  As analytics rock-star, Annie Cushing said,

“if you aren’t using Screaming Frog, you aren’t really doing SEO.”

Wait for the awkward silence when you ask this question…

3.  What are the last conferences your staff has been to?  Have you spoken at any?

Technology is ever changing – and agencies have a responsibility to keep up with those changes.  Reading Search Engine Land is a good starting point, but ultimately there is nothing to replace being in the middle of the action, interacting with the experts at geek-centric conferences such as SMX, Mozcon, and Pubcon.  Ideally your SEO expert has spoken at some of these conferences (and I don’t mean pay-for-shill talks, thinly veiled as legal marketing conferences.)

4.  We’re writing about 4 blog posts a week, should we keep it up?

SEO “experts” often quote the tired “Content is King” refrain to answer this question and perhaps delve into the vagaries of long-tail theory.  The reality is, vomiting out more low quality content does nothing more than convince the search engines that your site is full of… low quality content.  This problem was greatly exacerbated by web marketers between 2012 and 2014 who did little more than parrot “Content is King” at legal marketing conferences.

The, “should I keep spewing out more content?” question is best answered by using Google Analytics to review your posts for traffic and links.   If you find that 90% of those pages have no inbound traffic, very few pageviews and that no-one has linked to your rewrites of local car accidents thinly copied from the local newspaper, you might want to switch up your content strategy. Conversely, if you find all of your content is seeing action, then by all means, keep writing.  Read more here: SEO Regicide.

5.  We use Yext, so we don’t worry about NAP consistency.  Right?

Yext is just one tool in the NAP consistency fight (NAP – Name, Address and Phone Number) and while Yext handles roughly 50 major second tier directories, it does NOT manage the top 4 data aggregators; Moz’s Local product does.  Therefore, if you’re relying on tools to improve your NAP consistency, it’s important to utilize more than one — both Moz and Yext, for example.  Additionally, both tools need to be proactively monitored and managed to have a real impact – especially if you are dealing with a name change, address change, cleaning up geo-spam or eradicating poorly implemented tracking numbers.  Finally, neither Moz or Yext handles legal specific directories such as FindLaw or Avvo.  Solid legal SEOs have a list of legal specific directories that require manual management as well.

6.  Are heading tags built into my site’s template?

This is a question you can diagnose yourself.  Just because someone can (poorly) code a website, does not make them an SEO expert.  Review the heading tags across your site to see if a lazy or uninformed web developer has used them to style the template.  We had one site with the H1 tag copied across every single page of his site.  Oh – and it read “original text”.  This issue seems so simplistic, yet I see it repeatedly.  To do this, you can view source and search for H1, H2, etc., install SEO quake into Firefox and use the Diagnosis button for a page by page review, or if you are feeling ambitious (and have a site with fewer than 400 pages), use the aforementioned Screaming Frog.

7.  We want to launch a new website focused on <insert specific practice area>.

This is a favorite request for website developers who pretend to be SEOs.  They’ll churn out “SEO optimized” websites upon request and delivery of a nice fat check.  Of course, they are missing the aforementioned difficult part of SEO: linkbuilding (see question #1).  The reality is, from a linkbuilding, NAP and citations perspective, marketing two sites is more than twice as expensive as marketing one.  And if you go off the deep end with a full blown multi-domain strategy, you’d better have a very deep bank account.  Multiple domains can be appropriate for a firm with disparate practice areas – say DUI and Family law – but note that you’ll be investing extra marketing dollars to push both of them successfully.

And for my bonus question, we get #8 about social media…

8. Will you help us get more Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers to help our SEO?

This goes back to another SEO theory that has been dead for at least 3 years – that social media popularity drives search results.  Multiple spokespeople from The Google have been crystal clear that this is NOT the case.  Note that there can be a correlation between the two – with savvy content marketers using their wide and active social network to push great content to key influencers, which drives links, which drives traffic, but… ignore the social media marketers parading as SEOs who suggest the key to ranking for “Atlanta Divorce Lawyer” is a few thousand more twitter followers from Uzbekistan.

Except for Pinterest.  You totally should do that.  Really – it works.   Trust me, I’m an SEO Expert.