In the online business listing industry there is no exact standard for determining which internet yellow page (IYP) directories are the most important for citation building purposes. I’ve seen many ‘top 100’ IYP venue lists and even a ‘top 1000’ list out there somewhere. So how can we know where we should list a business online?
In my work experience, I have come across a few general categories of types of venues in which a business owner should be listed. These venue types are ‘Major Aggregators’, ‘Top-Tier’ venues and ‘Second-Tier’ business directories.
Over the years I’ve seen data from a business directory traffic study by BrightLocal referenced by other reputable companies. For example, Moz Local has had a chart that compares their service with a DIY approach and Yext which draws on data from this study.
Moz Local makes mention of 5 Major Data Aggregators, 8 Top-Tier Listings, and 44 Second-Tier Listings in their comparison chart, so I set out to determine to which directories they were referring, exactly. The question is, really, “What websites belong in each category?”
Top-Tier IYP Listings
Let’s start with the ‘Top-Tier’ listings. What exactly is a ‘top-tier’ listing anyway? When I reached out to Moz support, they told me: “In a nutshell, we consider directories with the largest market share for online yellow pages as top-tier. For more information, check out this link with the top 12 (based on market share) directories.”
The support staff then pointed me to a blog post based on a BrightLocal study using 2013 Quantcast data of ’40 of the largest and most well known directories/IYPs’. In this article, Ross Marchant defines a list of the ‘Big 12’ directories. Which, he explains, is “a sub-group of the most prominent directories that […] represent the sites that many search marketeers are most interested in.”
In 2013/2014, this list included the following IYP venues:
Yext covers 8 of these 12 business directories. They currently do not support YellowPage, AngiesList, Manta, and InsiderPages. They picked up DexKnows recently, so Moz Local updated their comparison chart after I informed them that it was out of date.
How many other IYP industry professionals would agree with this top 12 ‘top-tier’ list? It seemed OK to me, until I discovered a blog post on SearchEngineLand, from June 2015, where the Founder & CEO of BrightLocal.com, Myles Anderson, redefines this ‘Big 12’ list. In the article Myles says says that they “studied 30 of the most prominent, well known, and high traffic U.S. directories”.
So, according to this Y-on-Y Change chart, the 2015 ‘Big 12’ business directories list newly includes BBB.org and Switchboard (another WhitePages Inc property). On the other hand MerchantCircle and InsiderPages (a CitySearch/CityGrid Media property) got bumped off the list in 2015.
So, here is the new list of ‘Top-Tier’ or ‘Big 12’ Directories for 2015:
So, now… Yext still covers 8 of these top 12, as they don’t cover BBB, but they do cover SwitchBoard (great news for Moz, since they won’t have to update their comparison chart again)!
Major Data Aggregators
As an industry standard there have been 4 major business data aggregators in the IYP playing field. The commonly agreed upon major aggregators are:
However, Moz Local says that they handle 5 aggregators, which includes Foursquare as the fifth.
Their comparison chart shows that Yext handles 2 aggregators. Upon questioning a Moz support staff, I was informed that they consider SuperPages to be 1 of the 2 major aggregators that Yext handles (even I was unaware at the time that some consider Foursquare to be a major aggregator). It is interesting to note, however, that Yext, themselves, do not claim it is a major aggregator. The only aggregator in Yext’s own listing management dashboard is Factual. However, Yext does handle SuperPages and Foursquare, too.
In light of this information it seems there may be 6 possible major aggregators. When I questioned Moz’s own David Mihm via email about if we should be saying that there are 6 aggregators, instead of 5, he replied to me saying: “I appear to be a lone voice saying there are even 5, so maybe the 4 that others agree on makes more sense.”
On another note, in a blog post called “The U.S. Local Search Ecosystem” under the heading that says ‘Major Data Providers: Who Powers Whom?’, Moz seems to show GityGrid Media / IAC properties (which powers CitySearch & InsiderPages) listed as a ‘Major Data Provider’.
So, what exactly is a Major Aggregator? Moz’s “Glossary of Local Search Terms and Definitions” defines ‘Aggregator’ and ‘Data Provider’ in the following ways:
A company that maintains and supplies the underlying business database for local search directories. The most important U.S. aggregators are Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. These companies compile data about businesses from multiple online and offline sources including phone bills, business registration records, chamber of commerce membership rosters, and many other sources. An aggregator is also known as a “data aggregator” or “data provider.”
“A company with an explicit contract to supply local search engines with underlying business information. In the U.S., the major data providers are Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. The nature of Superpages and YellowPages.com’s relationships to the major local search engines.”
I am not sure if there was an error in the sentence structure, or if the 3rd sentence in the definition of ‘data provider’ is an alternate explanation of what a data provider does. Such as… SuperPages and YellowPages provide business name/address/phone (NAP) data to search engines, therefore they are ‘data providers’. I’ve contacted Moz for clarification on this.
Putting this all together, I have to ask, should we be saying that there are 8 major aggregators?
List of Possible Major Data Aggregators
- Foursquare (Moz documentation)
- SuperPages? (Moz support & glossary)
- YellowPages? (Moz glossary)
- CityGrid Media? (Moz article)
Where do we draw the line? Who decides what is an aggregator or not. Moz’s definition states that an aggregator is also known as a ‘data provider’.
Both of Moz’s definitions for ‘aggregator’ and ‘data provider’ state the standard 4 aggregators, while various sources suggest that others could be included. Though, for the Moz comparison chart purposes, they would need to have each venue in only one list or another (Major Aggregator or Top-Tier).
It may be safer, then, to have a greater distinction in the definitions and say there are only 4 or 5 ‘major’ aggregators (and the others would be, therefore, just ‘major’ data providers… where, in this case, the providers don’t necessarily ‘aggregate’ the data, but they are major providers of data into the IYP ecosystem.
Second-Tier IYP Listings
So, then, what are the ‘tier 2’ online business listing venues? I don’t have the time (or space) to go can copy/paste hundreds or thousands(?) of miscellaneous IYP venues out there and list them here. However, going back to that comparison chart, Moz Local mentions that Yext covers 44 of these so called ‘Second-Tier’ IYP venues.
Yext currently handles about 58 IYP venues with their listing services. Included in these 58 venues are about 9 ‘mobile partners’ (where you wouldn’t necessarily get a live listing URL, because the data is driven by mobile apps or GPS software). The mobile/GPS venues are: Nokia, Telenav, TomTom, Navmii, CityMaps, CoPilot, and the AirYell/Avantar/White & Yellow Pages apps. They also submit data to the major aggregator Factual (and Foursquare), too.
Of their 58 venues, 8 of them would considered to be in the ‘Big 12’ top-tier list. Therefore 58 venues -2 aggregators -8 top-tier listings = 46 second-tier venues remaining (not 44 venues as the Moz Local comparison chart currently shows).
The full list of Yext venues is as follows. You will notice the 8 ‘top-tier’ venues and the major aggregator(s) mentioned here, too:
- My Local Services
- Where To?
- White & Yellow Pages
Top 50 Citation Sources (Based on Frequency of Appearance in SERPS)
Another useful, but perhaps slightly outdated, list of important IYP venues can be found in a BrightLocal blog post from Sept 2013 called “Top 50 Local Citation Sites – US, UK, Canada & Australia” where they determine the 50 IYP venues for 4 different countries that are most frequently encountered in Google/Bing/Yahoo SERPs for over 100,000 CitationTracker reports.
Each of the 12 top-tier venues (both the 2013 and 2015 versions) are included in this top 50 ‘SERP appearance’ list. Yext covers 18 directories from this top 50 list. That leaves 27 of the top 50 venues that have not yet been named in this article. (Yellowbot used to be a Yext partner, but not anymore.) Two websites that jump out to me as very important in the list below are YellowBook and Facebook.
Misc. Second-Tier IYP Listings (from top 50 SERPs appearance list):
So, as you can see, there is a lot of room for variations in which online business listing websites are considered the best or most important. The various lists above take different factors into consideration when determining which venues make the cut and which do not such as monthly website traffic numbers or overall popularity with marketers while others are determine by their function (aggregator vs provider vs publisher).
In the end, I suggest to start by getting your business listed properly in the major aggregators, however many there may be. In this case it is better to be safe than sorry and do the work on more venues. Then you will need to get your business data straightened out in the top-tier directories. While you are at it, why not ensure that your company NAP data is correct (and duplicates are removed) on both the original and the new ‘Big 12’ lists. You can then move on to the myriad of second-tier listings. Which, can be daunting, considering the time and effort it takes to contact all of those venues and request duplicate listing removal on each.
Fortunately, we have a solution for you. Contact us now about our business listing management services. You will be glad to be able to concentrate on running your business and not dealing with the headache of IYP listings!