I’ve been using Yext for a few years now- to help manage my clients’ local listings. Why? 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 in 2021?
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:
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?
I first ran this data a few years ago, and recently updated it for 2021. One of the most significant changes was that fewer links help with SEO. Some of this could be due to Google’s recent cracking-down on websites linking out to others- by holding websites accountable for the websites to which they link. In short: this is not as helpful of an SEO play as it once was.
If your listed in an app, great. Depending on how popular that app might be, you could get some traffic to your website or get some phone calls. That might help your company gain new customers but it can’t help grow your SEO authority.
I’ll also mention that not all Yext listings have links- even if they do provide information on a web page. At best, these could send your business phone calls or help with NAP (name, address, phone) consistency.
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.
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.
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.
If you consider all the factors that prevent a link from sending SEO authority to a site:
Then you’ll find that more than only 18% of the links can pass SEO authority. Does that mean that the remaining profiles are a waste? No.
Some of these listings are designated “??” By that I mean I was unable to determine the SEO value of them because none of my clients qualified for submission to that website. For example, some listings are only relevant to restaurants.
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. Yext can help with this (a little) by linking to your “special” using achor text links- but I’d suggest their value is marginal at best.
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.
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.
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 will help you create a custom digital marketing strategy that does just that.Ready to Talk?