[Update 12/19/2019: Acxiom has officially retired its directory, meaning we no longer submit to it as one of our big four data aggregators. Foursquare has taken its place.]
Post last updated: May 2020
We see a lot of questions in forums and blog comments asking ‘which citation service is best?’ so we thought we’d provide a useful resource that compares six popular citation services and list the pros and cons of each. Those looking to compare, for example, Moz Local pricing and Yext pricing, have come to the right place.
Yes, there are many other citation listing services out there, and, yes, if we had more time we’d like to cover them all! But for the sake of efficiency and time, I have opted to cover what I see as the most prominent services in the market (apologies to other providers that I have overlooked).
It goes without saying that I have included our own Citation Building Service ‘Citation Builder’ in this list. I have tried to remain impartial and give a genuine, unbiased view of each service using the information I have available to me through our own trials (where available), from platform websites, and from feedback from others who have reported back to me after using these services.
We will publish all* comments made on this post so that service providers, customers, and readers can share their comments and advice as well. This way our readers will get maximum value from this resource.
*Caveat: Any comments which are purely self-promotional or link-grabbing will be deleted.
This post is pretty long, so to help you jump to the part that you’re most interested in, we’ve made it easy to go straight to the information you want:
Citations (aka local business listings) are a key part of local search optimization. A citation is a mention of your business on a third-party website – typically a local business directory, event site, industry/niche directory or review site. These mentions contain your Business Name, Address and Phone Number (also known together as NAP) but the listing can (and should) contain many more details about your business, like a description of your products or services, business hours, types of payments accepted, images, etc.
Having lots of citations that all display the exact same, accurate info about your business can help improve your ranking in local search results. Accuracy and ‘quality’ of your citation listings is considered the most important citation factor — sheer quantity has value but is trumped by quality (see our Expert Local Citation Survey results). Keep in mind that not all citation sites are equal in the eyes of Google, Bing and Yahoo! Make sure that you only work with and get listed on quality citation sites.
Cleaning up inaccurate data, merging duplicate listings, and creating new listings is a critical part of local search optimization.
However, manually going through each site to find, update or add a listing yourself is very repetitive and time-consuming. But there is help at hand! In this post we compare six well-known local listing services and present essential facts that you need to know so that you can select the best service for your needs.
Citation building can be handled in a number of ways. Broadly, these fall into two camps:
Citation service providers go direct to the directories/citations sites they use and update or submit business data to them. This process is either done manually by real people or it’s done via automated means – typically via APIs or data-uploads direct into directory databases.
Local Data Aggregators curate data about local businesses and sell or distribute that data to third-party directories, mobile apps, GPS providers, etc.
This review is USA-centric, focusing on citation listing services that are available in the USA, but only some are available outside the USA.
The US local data market is more evolved and structured than in other countries. There are three central data aggregators (Foursquare, InfoUSA, and Neustar/Localeze) that distribute their data out to the wider universe of directories and citation sites.
In the overview of each service further down the page, I briefly mention which countries they operate in and how big their networks are in each country.
This aggregator model doesn’t really exist in other countries, although there are some smaller aggregators and even some directories that re-distribute data to other directories.