Is Yext a Valid Link Building Strategy?
In a recent Moz Whiteboard Friday, Rand recommended all businesses should invest in local listings. About a year ago I started using Yext for this purpose. First of all, Yext helps me manage my clients’ local listings in a scalable way. Second of all it built some links to them. Links are important but do these links help my clients’ SEO efforts? Is Yext a valid link building strategy?
What is a “valid link building strategy”?
Links are a fundamental part of Google’s algorithm. That being said, not all links help a client in the same way (here’s an infographic I made about this, a while ago). Links can do three things:
- Send traffic to your site.
- Send SEO authority to your site.
- Send both traffic and authority to your site.
A link that sends only traffic is only as good as the website on which it lives. If that site gets no traffic, you won’t either. If that site has a lot of traffic, you might want the link even if you don’t get SEO authority.
Some links send SEO authority but no traffic. In this case the link might not get a lot of visitors (or any) but it helps your site rank better. Google uses links to measure the authority of a site. These links don’t have to send traffic to give you that authority.
The ideal link sends both traffic and authority. In fact, you might say that a link that could send authority but doesn’t send traffic might be a low quality link.
When developing a link building strategy, you want all three of these kinds of links.
So, the question is, can Yext help you do this?
14% of Yext listings are apps
If your listed in an app, great. Depending on how popular that app might be, you could get some traffic to your website. That might help your company gain new customers but it can’t help grow your SEO authority.
8% of Yext listing websites forbid the Googlebot
As an owner of a website, you can tell Google what it’s allowed to see. This is usually done using the robots.txt file. In some cases, you want Google to see certain pages, but not see others. Sometimes this is a technical issue- preventing the Googlebot from overloading your web server. Other times you want to protect your assets. For instance, Bing doesn’t want the Googlebot crawling and serving their listings. Bing wants you to use their search engine, instead.
In the case of the Yext listings that live on website, most of these are allowing Google to crawl them. Just because Google CAN crawl them, doesn’t mean they will be able to find them. For example, some sites only allow you to access their profile through a search box. Since the Googlebot can’t use a search box, these listings would be undiscoverable.
What are the implications to link building? If a website forbids Google from indexing a page, that link can’t give you SEO authority. It can still send you visitors, but it doesn’t help your website rank better.
30% of Yext listings websites that allow the Googlebot have nofollowed links
Of the Yext listings that are on websites, many of them have a nofollow attribute on their link. A “nofollow” attribute is something added to the HTML. It tells Google: we’re not vouching for the website on the other end of this link.
Like I mentioned, Google uses links to measure SEO authority to pages. Just because you link to a website, however, doesn’t mean you think it’s a quality site. That’s when Google suggested websites add a “nofollow” attribute to certain links. This prevents a website from passing SEO authority while allowing people to visit the site without any barriers. Links with the nofollow attribute can only send traffic- not authority.
Please note: not all the links from every Yext Listing are followable. In some cases, only the link to your special offer is followable. The main link to your homepage is not. That means authority is passing from only one of these links. It also means you need to add special offers to all your Yext Profiles.
2% of followable links from Yext listing websites have redirects
Sometimes websites want to track how many people come to your site, from theirs. In these cases they add a special link to your profile. This link acts as a counter and can show you how many people left their site, to visit yours.
Most people don’t notice these links. Google does. In fact, in some cases, links with redirects don’t count for SEO authority.
The good news for SEO: most of the links from Yext Lisitngs don’t have redirects.
In conclusion: 47% of Yext Listings could be valid links
If you consider all the factors that prevent a link from sending SEO authority to a site:
- The link must be on a webpage
- The webpage must be crawlable by Google
- The link can’t have the nofollow attribute or pass through a redirect
Then you’ll find that more than half of the links can pass SEO authority. Does that mean that the remaining profiles are a waste? No.
- They can send traffic and customers to you. If that website has traffic to send, that is. Some of Yext’s listings (to be honest) might not have much to send you.
- They can help verify your address and phone number on Google. Even if the link doesn’t count, Google trusts some of these sites to verify your information. The more confident it is, the more likely people are to find your listing in Google’s Local Pack. How consistent are your listings? Use this tool to evaluate your business’ listings.
Limitations: Just because they can help, doesn’t mean they will
Even if you consider the links that can help your SEO, Yext is still a incomplete link building strategy.
If Google can’t find it, the link can’t help you. Some of these listings are only accessible if you search their site. Since the Googlebot can’t do a site search, it can’t find the listings. If it can’t find it, it won’t give you credit for that link. If there are no internal links on the site, to your listing, the authority of the site can’t pass to your listing. If the listing has no authority, the link won’t have authority either.
Only homepage links. If you want to succeed in the SERPS, you’ll need more than homepage links. You’ll need links to interior pages. You’ll need some links with keywords in the anchor text. This is more than Yext can do for you.
Easy links are not quality. The best links are earned, not manufactured. Anyone can pay for a Yext subscription and get these links. That’s an easy bar to reach. To be successful in SEO, you’re going to need links that not everyone can get. You’ll need more than Yext links, if you want people to find you on Google.
Tips: How To Get More From Your Yext Listings
Despite these limitations, links from Yext can be a good way to get started. If you want to take these links a little further, be sure to do the following.
- Always include a special. In some cases, only the links to the special are followable. That means only those links are getting SEO value. If you neglect the specials, you miss out on these links.
- Update that special on a regular basis. Google loves fresh, new content. Give them a reason to find and index your profile by changing the special now and then. Maybe even once a month.
- Build links to your Yext Links. Some of these links pass value, if they have value themselves. If the site on which the link lives gives no links to that profile, it has no value to pass. If you take some time and build links to these links, they can pass value to your site. Of course, follow link building best practices: no reciprocal links; build from quality sites; etc. If you have to build links to get links with authority, this is inefficient. My recommendation: piggy-back on your other link building efforts to link to your company’s listing on these sites.
- Share your links over social assets. Most social media links don’t pass SEO value (for many of the reasons some Yext links don’t pass it). I’ve noticed, though, if you share a link on some social media sites (especially Twitter) Google can find the link faster. This can help you get value from their link, too.
TL;DR: Links from Yext Listings can help. They are a good start. If you want to compete, however, you’re going to need more links than just these.
Reliable Acorn provides Yext listings to clients, as part of the normal services. If you’re looking for a DIY local listings service, using Yext, you might be interested in our Greenthumb service.