Yodle - yay or nay?


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Wondering if any of you have dealt with yodle before - i have a new client (dentist) who is using them and i am a bit concerned for a few reasons:
1) yodle has build them a landing page BUT the content is the same on at least 10 of yodle's other dentist client sites - changing only location and company name
2)They use a tracking number for the main phone number...i know that is not only bad for google search but i wonder if client ever leaves yodle if they lose that number as well
3) yodle uses a domain name: locationkeyword.org for website URL. Client also has another website companyname.com that they use...the yodle page is ranking for a few keywords but the companyname.com is not ranking at all...if they leave yodle i'm assuming they lose the .org domain as well
4) current citations that are out there show different website URL's an different phone numbers

Thought would be appreciated - thanks
 

Linda Buquet

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Before I even read your post - when I just saw Yodle in the subject, I was going to warn you about tracking #s. That's really all I know about them is they use tracking #s that can mess up citations, COULD cause duplicates to pop up and COULD dislodge the main site's ranking.

But if on top of that they are just churning out duplicate content that's not good.

But yes you are right they own the domain and # so if the Dentist stops paying they'll shut off the faucet.
 
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Hi Shonda,

My name is Radley Moss, Director of Corporate Communications at Yodle. Thanks for your post. I wanted to respond to all of your points, which will hopefully allay your concerns.

1) There is a methodology to the website content we select for all our small business customers. During the setup process, we discuss our client?s business goals, unique selling points, service categories and locations that best identify their business, and use this information as a basis for inserting content on their website. We stack our clients? websites with keyword rich content that has been proven to work for organic search. This process has been thoroughly tested ? based on data we?ve gathered from our 30,000+ customers ? and shows the best results for conversion.

2) Tracking numbers that Yodle provides do not negatively impact online rankings. Ranking online is dependent on a lot of factors. Having a tracking number is also very important because it allows both our customers and Yodle to monitor the ROI from the online marketing campaign.

3) We don?t offer .org websites to our clients. We recommend to all our clients that they use an SEO friendly domain for their Yodle-created websites for which we provide the URL. We also provide our customers with an option to maintain their website at a minimal fee if they decide they no longer want to use Yodle for paid search advertising or SEO.

4) I?m not sure what citations you saw but Yodle algorithmically pushes our clients? information to a network of directories to ensure consistency. This automated approach means that it?s very unlikely that there will be any inconsistencies in citations.

Please don?t hesitate to contact me at rmoss@yodle.com or 212-542-5449 if you have any questions or would like to discuss anything else. I also thought that you may be interested in seeing this video testimonial from one of our dental clients - Video Testimonial - Sensible Dental/Bluebonnet Dental | Yodle.

Best,

Radley
 
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So it's confirmed that Yodle uses local tracking numbers? That could definitely hurt local rankings like Linda said, by creating inconsistent NAP information and ultimately leading to duplicate page problems. I think if they were doing what Yext does and simply create citations, I would say give it a try, but the tracking numbers are a no-go for me. I always tell clients to never use tracking numbers for local. I've had new clients sign on with me who've had tracking numbers in the past and it's pretty terrible trying to get rid of 3+ duplicates because there are so many wrong phone number variations.

Also like Linda said, if you ever cancel with them they own the numbers. Then you have all these tracking numbers out there that won't lead to your phone ringing... I'd be careful about that.
 
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Hi Shonda,


3) We don?t offer .org websites to our clients.

Radley
Radley - thanks for the reply...regarding the domain name, the website you provided my client is www.locationkw.org I'm confused by your statement that you don't offer .org websites to your clients. The other thing i was concerned about is that when i put their website content into copyscape, approx 15 other dentists websites with exact same copy came up and only kw, location, business name was changed. I have always heard this is considered duplicate content and would not be considered favorable by the search engines. I'm curious what your thoughts on that are.

Shonda
 

Phil Rozek

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They also use mirror sites with nofollow in the robots.txt. I won't even comment on this, but would be interested in Radley's take on how that could possibly be of benefit.
 
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All,

Thank you for your additional comments and questions. Here?s my feedback.

EsR ? Yes, we do use local tracking numbers. Per my initial response, our data shows that local tracking numbers do not negatively impact rankings provided they are used consistently across the web. Our ?Yodle Organic? offering respects NAP consistency across the web to achieve rankings and drive results for our customers.

Shonda ? I am checking on the domain that your client received. Regarding the website copy, the item that you brought up has not negatively impacted client performance and we have practices in place to ensure that doesn?t happen. Per my initial response, we stack our clients? websites with keyword rich content that has been proven to work for organic search. Our 35 strong product performance team, a team of data scientists and analysts, is constantly monitoring client performance. They review data from our 30,000+ customers to make sure that we?re always implementing practices that provide them with the best possible chance of generating results from their online marketing programs with Yodle.

Phil ? Yodle does not use mirror sites for any our SEO clients. We specifically build customers? websites with SEO practices top of mind. We recommend to our customers that are only working with us specifically on paid search advertising campaigns to also use Yodle-created websites. However, we do successfully use mirrored sites for our paid search advertising clients when they request we do that.

Thank you again for your input.

Best,

Radley
 

Artcetra

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One of my clients is having a very bad time with Yodle.

While disputing the charge on their credit card Yodle sent them "proof of service" which consisted of pages showing they had positioned my clients site for #1 and #2 spots under 3 different keyword phrases.

Sounds good til I plugged those keywords into Google's keyword planner. The total monthly traffic for ALL 3 keywords combined was...ZERO!!!!
Who wants to pay monthly for ZERO traffic?

Based on that and much more I've seen I would say a very loud NAY to Yodle.
 
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My opinion is that Yodle is only appropriate in very small markets with no competition where the only thing you need to do to rank is have a website that can be crawled. Other then that they are a complete waste and will never rank well in a competitive market.
 

Jim Froling

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I've had two clients use Yodle for search marketing. As part of their "bundle", Yodle also included local search ranking management.:eek:

In one case, Yodle virtually hijacked the client's Places page & account (which I had originally set up) and included the URL to the (crappy) Yodle generated site. Yet from my dash, it still showed the client's "real" URL. I still haven't figured out how they did that.:confused:

The other client (whom I did not provide local organic service to) just sat on the back pages of Google (Maps) with virtually no movement. I checked periodically out of curiosity. As far as I could tell, Yodle secured a couple of citations and that was it.

After a few months both clients cancelled Yodle and came back to me for both local organic and paid. :D Just recently the first client's hijacked Places (now G+) page came under my management again. And their local rankings are almost at the same place as before Yodle messed around.

From my observation, Yodle primarily focuses on SEM which they charge a large fee (or keyword markup, not sure) and use a very "cookie cutter" approach to campaign management. The SEO is almost like a sideline for them. And their performance here is in the same ballpark as 29 Prime, eLocal and other scam artists that give SEO a bad name (and depress our fees :mad:).
 

katandmouse

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All,

Thank you for your additional comments and questions. Here’s my feedback.

EsR – Yes, we do use local tracking numbers. Per my initial response, our data shows that local tracking numbers do not negatively impact rankings provided they are used consistently across the web. Our “Yodle Organic” offering respects NAP consistency across the web to achieve rankings and drive results for our customers.

Shonda – I am checking on the domain that your client received. Regarding the website copy, the item that you brought up has not negatively impacted client performance and we have practices in place to ensure that doesn’t happen. Per my initial response, we stack our clients’ websites with keyword rich content that has been proven to work for organic search. Our 35 strong product performance team, a team of data scientists and analysts, is constantly monitoring client performance. They review data from our 30,000+ customers to make sure that we’re always implementing practices that provide them with the best possible chance of generating results from their online marketing programs with Yodle.

Phil – Yodle does not use mirror sites for any our SEO clients. We specifically build customers’ websites with SEO practices top of mind. We recommend to our customers that are only working with us specifically on paid search advertising campaigns to also use Yodle-created websites. However, we do successfully use mirrored sites for our paid search advertising clients when they request we do that.

Thank you again for your input.

Best,

Radley
What Yodle I think is saying here is, "We highjack all your local SEO efforts by taking over your local listings, replace your phone number with ours (so we can achieve consistent NAP) and replace your website url with ours so we can send everyone to our website that we built for you and prove ROI with the call tracking number we put on that website. We work to get the website we build for you to rank by taking away or taking down everything you had going for you, including your own website."

Did I get that right? I'm sorry. Sometimes I speak what I feel, but honestly, I believe that's what was said.

I suppose there is a place for Yodle in the small business marketing world because I'm sure they are making money for their clients. So how can you argue with that? It's just that those of us in the business feel there is a better way to get better results, and at the same time leave everything under the control of the business owner.
 
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Kathy - well said...but you forgot one thing... " and we put a call tracking number and a website URL owned by us on everything so if you should leave us you lose everything."

Shonda
 

Dave

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I've had experience with Yodle and ReachLocal, two resellers with less than stellar reputations for years and more recently via this article: Small Businesses Search in Vain for Web-Ad Help - WSJ

The bad experience stories started cropping up years ago and they continue.

Some issues: All from experience:

1. Yodel and RL both resold google adwords at markups that were roughly 2 to 2.5 times actual costs. I saw that over several campaigns on a continuous basis.
2. Their reporting to clients actually obfuscates (hides) the true valuable data. They take google's data and repackage it. What you get from yodel (or RL) is vastly inferior in terms of helpful data than what adwords provides directly.
3. All the campaigns I saw were run on what is described as "broad keyword match". That is the least effective and potentially most costly way to do things. Lot of costs --little impact.
4. A lot of ads are run on Name or branding search terms. Listen on those calls. A ton of them are from non customers...vendors or other types of calls. What a friggin waste of money. I believe they do this purposefully. We've run campaigns and monitored these type calls.. Incredible waste of money via the Yodel/RL campaigns.

5. Neither yodle or RL ever adjusted the adwords campaign. Virtually one of the first things one does with an adwords campaign over time is to adjust it to get better ROI on the terms that count. The yodel/RL campaigns were geared to spending maximum dollars without regard for value to the customer

6. I'm extremely suspicious of the underlying relationships between the resellers and google insofar as what occurs with the establishment of documents that advertise and display a tracking number. Here is why:

I saw on several RL campaigns that a large number of web documents were created with the smb brand name, correct address and the tracking phone number...different than the actual number. I monitored and watched this during a period when Google's Local ALGO was creating a LOT of duplicate records that were messing with local smb's local presence.

But the smb's I followed didn't have a problem. meanwhile all across the web Local Dup records were being created via similar phenomena. But I couldn't find this via what RL was doing. I tracked down other RL accts....saw the citation type information with a "tracking phone number" but couldn't find DUPES.

What the heck was going on???? Everyone else was getting dupes.

I suspect RL and Yodel would get control of the account and pass the info to google. Google created some kind of filter wherein the web documents/citation type data with the tracking numbers would get filtered out of the record for that business.

Now that is my suspicion. As much of this that occurred, I couldn't find a dupe. And boy oh boy oh boy did I search.

Soooooo.....While I firmly believe you better work very hard to maintain clean citation records with consistent data....I also think that google and some of its reseller partners sneakily worked around this...

....and nobody knew about it.

Now on one particular Yodel acct here are some things I experienced:

1. They sold the customer on the following:
A. Organic optimization
B. Local Optimization
C. An adwords campaign.

Specifically on the organic campaign...lets say the business service is a Carpet sales, repair and cleaning for a city like Topeka. And lets also say the store is located in a pretty small neighborhood...called smallburg, located within Topeka.

Yodel optimized for smallburg carpet "phrases". That stunk. There are no searches for such a limited geo perspective. It was a waste.

Yodel promised the client optimization on the LOCAL side...so the client could show in Google maps, get pinned results...have a site that would show with reviews etc for carpet type searches.

Yodel DID NOTHING. NOTHING. No local visibility. NOTHING.

But why should they? If the smb was showing better in organic/results of any type it would negate clicks on ads.

That is where the resellers interests are in exact opposite interests than the business.

Finally of course, Yodel's adwords costs were about 2.3-2.5 times google's adwords costs. A tremendous waste of money.

Need I say more?
 

Dave

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Let me add something and reemphasize. My yodel experience included a situation that was precisely like that of Artcetra above in post 8: http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/local-search/3982-yodle-yay-nay.html#post28895

Yodel's promise to optimize focused on terms that didn't generate searches in google or elsewhere, were weird completely illogical, and a rip off to the customer.

On the adwords side my experience and pricing was similar to what others cited.

This group charges a lot and delivers very little.

but hey...they give slick marketing pitches to potential customers. ;)
 

katandmouse

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If you're following this thread, then you know that Yodel took over my client's G+ account, replaced his website url with their own and see attachment for the most overly-optimized, spammy keyword stuffed description I have ever seen (see attachment)! I removed it and put mine back in. They then came back, deleted mine again and put theirs back. They also removed his address and substituted a community miles away instead of a street address.What sort of logic and intent do you think was behind that?


Please leave your comments about that description just in case my client is wondering who to believe. ;)

 

Lloyd Silver

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An old thread with some recent comments. And I'm meeting with a prospective client tomorrow so I thought I'd bump it again to see if anybody else has any of these "awesome" stories to share about Yodle.

They got this business to move their marketing over to a new site, owned by Yodle, including all of their local as well, with a toll free tracking number. It's quite a mess.
 

katandmouse

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Lloyd, please tell them to stay away. Get on your knees and beg, whatever you have to do. They made such a mess of things for my client, and now I'm having to dig him out of deep muck, including what appears to be a big kick in the patoot from Google for the most awful, overfully optimized, keyword stuffed G+ description I've ever seen. And hopefully they're reading that so that they get some proper training and management into their staff. Hear that Yodel? Linda has the best training right here. Come and get it!

Lloyd I'm so passionate about this, I had to stop what I was doing to run over and help some other poor soul. Don't let what happened to our clients happen to yours. Please.
 

Lloyd Silver

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They are already there. I'm trying to move them away. It shouldn't be too difficult but I want to walk in with as much ammunition as possible.

So far I've found:

1. Yodle owns the domain they are doing all of their marketing from
2. There is duplicate content on that domain shared with about 40 other sites
3. They're using a toll free number instead of a local
4. They also claimed ownership of their GMB page
5. They failed to clean up previous listings so there are a ton of duplicates due to the new phone number
6. Their GMB description is incredibly spammy
7. Their GMB description is using a suboptimal category (bookkeeping services vs. CPA Firm)
8. Their website is not properly optimized for local.

And the bottom line is their rankings are horrible. It's only been about 3 months but they should be showing up higher than they are.
 

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