Having an incorrect business address, phone number, or name appear online can be a frustrating situation for small business owners! Who has the time to go manually claim and update the plethora of business directory listings online when erroneous data is found?
In years past, if you were to contact an Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) type website to change your business information, they would pass the blame for wrong name/address/phone number (NAP) data in their system on to ‘your phone book company’. I remember being told that I should call my phone company to get the outdated/bad business data removed in order to fix the data being fed to the online venues! Those were the days when correcting your data in the major aggregators was much less known… before automated online systems became more popular which allowed one to claim and correct business data online.
Thankfully, those days are getting further and further behind us and there are available, now, various online services to correct your business information on multiple internet venues at the same time.
Unfortunately, some NAP listing correction services do not do a very good job at handling the complexity and depth of problems caused by having a business name, address, phone number, or even ‘category’ misrepresented online (such as Dentist, Lawyer, Accountant, or such)… especially when it comes to having multiple NAP listings on the same website.
It is common occurrence to have 2 or 3… or even 5 or 10 duplicate listings on a given IYP website. And what a pain it is to try to get rid of those duplicated NAP citations!
UBL Review – NAP Propagation with Disregard for Duplication?
It is a sad thing when a citation correction service does the exact opposite of what you think it will do for you. Instead of cleaning up your business presence online, the wrong service can just causes more of a mess to clean up. That was exactly my experience with using the service offered by UBL.org. UBL (Universal Business Listing) brags that they will get you published ‘everywhere’, but they don’t handle ‘existing listings’ very well.
I have found that it is highly likely that creating a paid profile on UBL will create duplicate listings, especially for an established business with a healthy number of existing IYP listings. In 9 out of 9 clients for which I paid for a subscription, UBL created duplicate listings on about 1/2 of their ‘direct’ partners.
UBL does not search very well for pre-existing listings… except for Yelp and Yahoo Local, in my experience, where they provided a message saying there was a pre-existing listing.
I had to go back to each and every venue for all 9 clients to hunt down and destroy all the duplicate listings that were created as result of UBL’s ‘direct listing’ services on their partner sites. It was an incredible waste of time and perhaps money not very well spent (though not all that expensive compared to other services.)
Out of 9 unique clients submitted to UBL.org in 2012, their service only ever directly reported to have created listings on the following 12 sites (combined results):
AboutUs.org, ChamberOfCommerce.com, CitySquares.com, Company.com, FourSquare.com, JudysBook.com, LocalDatabase.com, ShowMeLocal.com, Tyloon.com, USCity.net, Yahoo Local, Yelp.com
Specific Data Issues With UBL
Besides having duplicate listings to deal with, there were other data issues. I found that categories can get messed up and sometimes phone numbers and/or website URLs are not propagated very well into some of the newly created listings.
When you add multiple categories, services, products or keywords they are often imported with the | pipe separator and either look bad or mess up how the category systems are used in a particular IYP site. (Often times the ‘best’ category is not even chosen nor propagated properly if multiple categories are used.)
For example, with one particular client, I saw the following data errors from UBL’s service:
- CitySquares – did not import the phone number for several clients, duplicate created
- JudysBook – no website listed, wrong category, duplicate created
- ShowMeLocal – categories are not well formed, duplicate created (and it shows as ‘verified’ by UBL.org (which makes it harder to delete)
- ChamberOfCommerce.com – duplicate created
- LocalDatabase – duplicate created
When Might UBL Be A Good Fit?
For a newer company with not many preexisting NAP citations in existence, UBL.org may be a great way to gain entrance into the major aggregators.
If someone was to use UBL, I’d suggest that it be used for ‘brand new’ businesses with no preexisting NAP presence online, as a ‘first step’. That way you will have a better chance to be included in the major aggregator’s databases, relatively quickly. This is especially handy if you wish to avoid the requirement of uploading official company registration paperwork to Acxiom in order to create a new listing. Some major aggregators such as Acxiom or D&B require proof a company’s legitimate NAP info, such as a scan of their Federal Tax License, State Business License, or D.B.A. License, etc. to validate the additions or changes in NAP info requested.
The next step, perhaps a couple months later (to allow time for downstream listing propagation), would be to use Yext to push your NAP data to 44+ venues at once. The reason you’d do UBL first and then Yext, and not the other way around, is that Yext will allow you to find/select preexisting listings and avoid having unnecessary duplicates created.
After that, I’d suggest manual citation building services to hit up IYP venues that are not touched by UBL and Yext.
A UBL Case Study for Brand New Businesses:
Out 11 client listing profiles created on UBL in total, 9 of them were for existing businesses and 2 were for ‘brand new’ businesses.
I chose to use UBL for these new businesses in order to quickly propagate NAP data into the major aggregators. I also figured that ‘duplicate listings’ would not be created because no real IYP listings existed anywhere else on the internet for the client at that point anyway.
UBL says that they distribute their NAP listings to both their ‘publisher network’ and to a set of ‘national data providers’. We will now take a look at the results of signing up these 2 brand-new businesses for UBL’s service.
UBL Publisher Network (Direct Listings)
I created a UBL profile for 2 different companies on the same day. The two companies happened to have the same address, but unique business name and unique phone number. A requirement of some IYP venues for a listing to be considered a new company is that 2 out of the 3 ‘N.A.P.’ elements need to be different than another company listing.
One of the two listings, which we will call ‘Company A‘, got submitted to only 2 publishers (Yelp & Yahoo Local) but it didn’t actually get published on Yahoo Local.
The other listing, we will call ‘Company B‘, got both submitted and published to 10 publishers in their network as follows:
- Yahoo Local
- Judys Book
- Local Database
Since Sept, 2012 it appears UBL has added the following venues to their Direct Distribution Network roster (previously known as their ‘Publisher Network’ list), which they say supplements their Core Distribution service (previously known as their ‘National Data Providers’ list.)
UBL’s website now says: “With UBL core distribution [to InfoGroup, Acxiom, Factual, and Dun & Bradstreet], you’ll see your business profile show up across more than 150 digital distribution points.” (emphasis added) I’d love to try another test campaign for a brand-new company to prove if this statement is true, exaggerated, or false.
UBL National Data Providers (Core Distribution)
Besides their list of ‘publishers’, UBL said that they also distributed the 2 listings to their ‘national data providers’ as follows:
- Localeze (no longer listed in 2013)
- Dun & Bradstreet
- nSphere (re-listed under ‘Direct Listings’ now)
- Compass Marketing Solutions (re-listed under ‘Direct Listings’ now)
Here are the results of an inventory of data provider listings that I performed:
Company A is Listed in:
Company B is Listed in:
- Acxiom, InfoGroup, Factual, D&B (but not in business directory)
Neither company made it into Localeze. Also, Compass does not have a publicly searchable database, so I can’t confirm if the data made it into that data provider. (Compass was considered by UBL to be a ‘data provider’ previously, but now they are listed in the Direct distribution ‘publisher’ list.)
By the way, I called Compass Marketing Solutions and they told me that they did have a partnership with UBL for ‘a little while’ about ‘a year and a half ago’ (early 2012?) ‘for a small number of USA records’. A Compass staff member told me that they are no longer working with UBL in 2013. Compass also told me that they get their data mostly from (traditional print) phone books, business directories, annual reports, etc, for what that matters.
Citation Quantity Tracking
I have been tracking the # of citations that are naturally created as a result of the UBL.org profile creations for the two different companies since it was first published.
I used an account at White Spark’s Local Citation Finder to track the citation #’s over time for about a year now, since about Sept, 2012 until Sept, 2013.
Note: We manually created G+ Local listings for each business before we first created the UBL profiles. Also, it should be mentioned that each company had a few entries of their business NAP published in a few basic ‘social bookmarking’ websites (but not IYP sites) from a previous SEO stint, so the total # of citations mentioned below cannot be attributed only to UBL’s distribution network.
Number of NAP Citations per Company Over Time
|Date||Company A||Company B|
|Oct 17, 2012||10||20|
|??? ??, ????||24||46|
|Mar 11, 2013||30||46|
|Aug 29, 2013||49||61|
|Sept 12, 2013||52||65|
Since the time we started collecting citation numbers, Company B has always had more citations that Company A.
You will notice that the number of citations for Company A seems to have caught up to Company B over time… or rather the relative gap between them has shrunk (in 2012 there was double the amount of listings for Company B and in 2013 Company B has only 20% more listings than Company A.
Some of the difference in the quantity of citations can be accounted for by the fact that Company A was distributed to 9 less publishers than Company B and Company A was only published in 1 data provider.
Keep in mind, however, that these numbers do not necessarily represent the actual # of listings in existence as White Spark LCF is most likely finding only ‘indexed’ listings (from search engines) and not via manual searching on all of the venues mentioned in this article.
Of the 50-60 citations found by LCF, many (like 25-30) of them are just junkie websites such as ‘who called me’ phone-number-look-up type websites. Yelp is listed 9 times in this inventory (as the same listing was duplicated across several international Yelp domains.)
That leaves perhaps 15-20 citations that ‘could’ have any authority behind them to be of any SEO value… not bad, really, for costing $75.00 for each company (with UBL’s ‘Essential’ package.)
“I would not recommend UBL for a company that has been around for a while and has a larger, broader NAP footprint. In that case, I would recommend using one of Yext’s packages.”
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