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  1. #1
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    Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    I just tried to do the usual FourSquare verification process, and was rudely greeted by a different process -- a one-time $20 verification fee. There was no phone verification + postal mail verification option like usual.

    This comes on top of my recent decision to stop using free Yahoo listings -- the lack of support for free listing "customers" and (purposefully?) glitchy dashboard have driven me away from trying to work with free listings there. (Does anyone else here NOT think that is the whole point of that situation?)

    Along with the Yext listing situation I'm sure **everyone** in this forum has dealt with, it seems that "local listings" are becoming more and more a "pay-to-play" service.

    Do you guys'n'gals agree? What are your thoughts?

    Also, is there anyone who knows more about the legal situation around making businesses pay to update old or inaccurate information? I'm pretty sure that's illegal...

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  3. #2
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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    Thanks Philip, good to know.

    I don't do citations, but tweeted this to get thoughts and insights from other Local Search Consultants.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    Hey fellow Philip,

    Even if FourSquare's free verification options are gone (I'm still not sure), I'd still suggest doing the $20 verification.

    It's not illegal. It's their site. But it is worth it, in the case of FourSquare.

    You might also try submitting edits as a non-business owner. Those usually seem to go through.

  5. #4
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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    The FourSquare verification is what initiated this thread today, but the Yahoo dashboard/support situation is the real long-term motivator for my thoughts on this. Has anyone else had problems working with the Yahoo listing dashboard?

    My experiences thus far:
    • 2 (or more?) dasbboard versions
    • frequent broken "old" dashboard functionality (tested in Firefox and Chrome -- the "broken behavior was for both browsers **at the same time**, over multiple days/times of access) - inability to search for businesses, inability to "click thru" to specific business's dashboard from the list, inability to load business list at all...
    • the general "canned" email response that they cannot help non-paying customers with any kind of technical support
    • listing suspensions and out-of-the-blue review/cancellations (this happens very rarely with client's listings in Google, and never in Bing)


    It's not a manageable working situation, particularly without any kind of support.

    More in context to the pay-to-play subject, my opinion is that this is "strongarm" tactics by Yahoo to turn basic (previously free) listings into a revenue stream, but the principal is the same across the board -- the failure of the **many** mid-00s created business listing directories to turn any real profit creates a situation in which they have no choice but to charge per listing/verification, or turn to "solutions" like Yext (who is a parasite on this situation of a failed advertising-supported directory business model).

    Who's next to follow in Yahoo's footsteps?

  6. #5
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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    Philip (McD, because you are two!), I agree with you until certain extent. I don't think the only reason for Yahoo! to turn so dramatically to the pay-to-play model is the mere fact that they want more money. I think it is more like the are in desperate need of more money, and they are trying to squeeze some additional buck from anywhere they could, while trying to minimize their costs for staff. For example, I believe most of the customer service reps for Yahoo! Localworks (Yext white-labeled) are not from the US (I won't go into speculating where they are from though). Additionally, their review time lines for both basic and enhanced listings have increased in the past couple of years. All of these are signals for cost-cutting.

    On a side note, I think they are currently doing bad job managing/using all the data they are buying from other places (Localeze, ExpressUpdate, Yellowpages, Yelp), so this adds up to the problems they have on the front end.

    Regarding Foursquare, I would agree with Phil (R), but only if it is about a business that could really use Foursquare in a "social" manner, i.e. a destination business. If you are a contractor (or your clients are), or a business that would close to never receive any check-ins (think bankruptcy/divorce attorney, or towing service, for instance), simple user edits could do the work. The more edits you have on Foursquare, the faster your edits will be approved. I am actually a Superuser, so my edits usually get approved as soon as the editors for certain territory wake up

    Cheers,
    Nyagoslav
    Director of Local Search at Whitespark

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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    In a round about way, it has always been a pay-to-play model. We pay people to create/claim our free listings, we pay people to fix the bad listings, we spend hours contacting customer support...etc. All that time and money add up.

    I have started to find that just paying a fee for a better, faster, easier listing is cheaper in the long run and provides much better results.

    About the Yahoo dashboard(s) and errors, yes I have experienced that too. Paying the $9.95/month fixed the problem and ended up saving me hours of headache.

    That's my 2 cents... Happy Friday!

  8. #7
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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    Quote Originally Posted by Nyagoslav View Post
    I think it is more like [Yahoo is] in desperate need of more money, and they are trying to squeeze some additional buck from anywhere they could, while trying to minimize their costs for staff.
    I totally agree with you. In fact, I think that the rise of Yext-only directories is a clear sign that Yahoo Local is not the only business directory in that situation.

    So, what does that mean to the future of (structured/directory-) citation-centered local SEO efforts? For instance, in the context of the FourSquare situation, paid verification seems like a good way to both cut down on spam and to (quickly) turn an otherwise free service into a revenue stream. Two birds with one stone.

    I think we'll see more and more of this sort of thing in the future. Maybe not from Google (I don't think they're short on cash!), but most of the directories we know and love will start to move to some sort of non-advertising based monetization -- or they're going to go under sooner rather than later.

  9. #8
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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    Why not just use Moz Local? It hits FourSquare.

    Are you sure the only option you had was to pay? I think instant verification is paid but snail mail is free. Did you see the free snail mail option?

    I've also had FourSquare offer to verify my listing for $20, the next time for another listing was $1, and then the next time was $20 again. I went ahead and did the $1 (no brainer) the rest I just snail mailed. However, I haven't used FourSquare directly in over 5-6 months.

    I disagree with the pay to play analysis. Yahoo is still free, in fact my business finally got updated the other day. Sure, it took 2 months, but it does work.

    Almost all of Yext's local search directories accept manual submissions or take data from the major data aggregators in one pipeline or another. There are 2-3 that I have run into that seem to be impossible to get on.

    Besides those 2-3, everything else is still free from what I can tell.
    Tutelary Marketing, Owner
    Local Listing Ninja - Business Listing Service
    Local Listing Ninja Reviews - Check Out Our 100+ 5 Star Reviews!

  10. #9
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    Re: Local Search -- the new Pay-to-Play eco-system

    I am with Greg pay the 10 bucks for a few month in Yahoo to get something fixed.

    I ended up going that route after I spent 4 months trying to get it fixed in the usual Yahoo ways, it was fixed within a few weeks if I recall. I kept the enhanced listing for a month or two and then dropped it. I just checked, corrected website is still attached. So unlike Yext, your listing doesn't revert, from what I can tell.

    Have you tried creating an email for yourself that you have access to? i.e. set up phillip@bobshouseofmonkeys.com for your BobsHouseofMonkeys client, and try using that for verifications, sometimes I have success doing it that way instead of my usual Yahoo or Gmail created by me for most verifications. That's of course if you have access to the site.

    Thanks Phil and Nyagoslav for the Foursquare superuser tip, I will start doing that for my clients who I expect never to have any checkins.

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