Those of us who are in the business of helping local businesses improve their websites are always looking for it – the Local SEO Unicorn.
The Local SEO Unicorn is the mythical creature that will simplify the process of consolidating and publishing information for our clients across the most important major local directories.
If we can just find it and capture it, we can get local citations done, with beautifully consistent NAP (Names, Addresses & Places), and without the hassle and expense of how it’s done now.
Enter Moz Local.
If you watch their “How it Works” video you might think you’ve spotted the Local SEO Unicorn. And for $49 per year no less!
The video promises:
- An easy, affordable way to manage your online listings
- All you have to do is upload your data, and with the click of a button your data is distributed across the web.
- With all the time and money you save, you can focus on other things (whatever those are)
There it is – the Local SEO Unicorn! Just waiting for us to catch it! Can it really be true?
I couldn’t resist. So we paid our $49 and signed up one of our clients.
What They Don’t Tell You
After setting up our first project and going through several rounds of emails with their technical support folks, here are a few things they DON’T tell you in the video:
Filling out their spreadsheet is no easy task
Some of the fields require short codes that you have to take the time to figure out. You know when there is a “Help” page on filling out a local listings data form you’re in for a long afternoon.
You STILL have to create all these local accounts
This was, without question, our biggest disappointment. Our process has traditionally been to claim and verify each of these local directories manually, and this is the big expense and time commitment mentioned in the video that we hope to better manage.
All Moz Local does is offer you a button to click so you can start the process of manually claiming most of the missing listings.
Making matters worse is the fact that Moz Local only has API setup with a few directories (Foursquare is one of them) that you can create a “one click” listing as they call it.
So other than this very small group, all Moz Local will do is give you a cute graphic which tells you to go and manually create an account. Thanks for nothing.
Data feeds are inconsistent
Moz Local indicates many directories are either missing or incomplete, which simply isn’t true. According to their customer support they are working on this. However in my mind this greatly undermines the value of a dashboard that displays incorrect data.
Actual Client Results
Here are some examples of screenshots from the first project we created.
The client is a local attorney. Before submitting to Moz.com, we spent more than 2 weeks claiming and verifying about 30 local directories which we confirmed were live prior to this exercise. And while we certainly didn’t expect to get a 100% score, the score we did get seems awfully low.
You can imagine our surprise to find a score of just 45% after having done this much manual work:
Here is a collection of “unclaimed” directories that Moz Local told us we needed to claim on our first project. However we had already claimed most of these manually (specifically at Hotfrog, Yelp & Yahoo which all showed as blank), so clearly there’s a problem somewhere!
No offense to Moz.com. They’re a great organization with good tools.
But IMHO this one doesn’t do a whole lot, at least not yet.
There is definitely value to submitting your data to the underlying feeds that supply local directories, but you can get this in a number of places such as UBL and Localeze, so the Moz Local offering is not new or especially good in that respect.
As far as I’m concerned it’s bad advertising to claim how easy and simple this is when it actually is not. This service does NOT prevent you from spending a lot of time claiming profiles. It just doesn’t.
I can’t stand when software providers dangle that carrot and pull it away once they get your money.
Sorry gang, the Local SEO Unicorn evades us once again, just proving that there really is no substitute for manually updating and verifying the most important local listings for local businesses.