There are several reputable companies that offer services with an annual fee that are designed to keep your online local directory listings up-to-date. One way of doing this is to focus specifically on the major local data aggregators that push information out to tons of different websites. We did an experiment to see what happens if you sign up for one of the annual data provider services and cancel it a year later.
- Not renewing caused wrong information to come back.
When we did the experiment, the listing on Acxiom (which is no longer an active aggregator) did revert back to the wrong name after we chose not to renew the package annually. When I ran this by Darren Shaw, he said “If you don’t renew with the aggregators, then your data won’t be ‘managed’ by them anymore and could be updated by other sources. The aggregators are getting data from offline sources like the phone company, government registries, and utility companies, so if your info is wrong there, and the aggregators pull in new data, they might update your record with the incorrect info, and that will spread out to their entire network again”. So what likely happened here is that a utility or phone bill had the wrong/old name on it.
2 . Not renewing had no measurable impact on ranking or traffic to the business website.
After monitoring rankings & traffic, we saw absolutely no reason for concern. The inconsistent name being listed on other sites online didn’t have any measurable negative SEO impact.
3. Not renewing didn’t result in lost backlinks.
One of the things that concerned us was not renewing Localeze. According to Darren, “On Localeze when a listing expires it reduces down to basic NAP info only. No link, no categories, no description”. When monitoring the backlink profile in Ahrefs, we didn’t see any drop in the number of linking domains after choosing not to renew the data providers.
In summary, we found that the reason why you’d want to pay annually for a data aggregator would be accuracy. If you’re worried that people might see the wrong name or phone number online, it might be a good idea to stomach the annual fee. However, if you’re keeping your offline sources up-to-date, this is less of an issue. On the other hand, if your main goal is just ranking on Google, it’s likely you don’t need it.
This case study was previously presented at LocalU. To see a list of our upcoming events, visit LocalU.org.