get in touch
No. 1593
August 29th, 2012

Check Out My New Company
You Know You Want To


Local Search Ecosystem: Fall 2012 Update

Obviously this space changes pretty quickly…all that work I put into updating this graphic earlier in the Spring had a gaping hole in it by the time summer rolled around, thanks to the impending arrival of Apple Maps.  Whether Apple knows what it’s getting into with Local remains to be seen…hopefully they’ve got a pretty flexible database architecture locked and loaded, in order to accommodate information from so many different providers.

Also, please note a few updated distribution partners of Infogroup.  They’ve always been one of the “Big Three”–and in my experience, the “Big Two,” so these additional references don’t really change their importance substantially.

At any rate, I hope the graphic is now as accurate as I can make it. A few updated comments follow below.

All references for these sources are noted at the bottom of this page.

Evidently I wrote off Acxiom too early

I mentioned in February that I saw plenty of evidence that Acxiom’s influence in the space was waning, via missing public references to usage of their data and research into client clusterf*cks in late 2011.  Whether that perception was inaccurate, or they landed a Hail Mary with Apple Maps, there is no doubt that for U.S. location-based search, Acxiom is still very relevant in this space as of August 2012.

Continued importance of Google Map Maker

I know that a lot of you asked for this in the comments on my last post, and next week I’ll be publishing a little more detailed case study about Google Map Maker, where I think it fits into Google +Local, and how to best take advantage of it to clear up data mismatches for clients.  I remain firmly convinced that Map Maker, and not the Places Dashboard, is the REAL backend for Google +Local.

Whither Twitter?

Well, just when it looked like Twitter might be making a serious move into Local Search and the small business ecosystem by rolling out its ad product for SMBs, they may have shot themselves in both feet in the Local game with their recent API restrictions. How many scores of developers that might have built the latest and greatest local search app using the Twitter infrastructure as a backbone will now look to alternate sources of Local data (Foursquare, anyone, for example)?

And as usual, I regret that I even have to say this, but:

Please respect my intellectual property and do not reproduce this graphic without my permission.  This graphic represents several dozen hours of research, design, and layout.  You are more than welcome to link to the original on, but please, don’t rip it off and republish it elsewhere on the web.  So far, I’ve not turned anyone down who’s asked permission to use it in a presentation to small business owners or other search professionals.

  • Your legend seems to be missing an arrow type, Yext has grey arrows, I’m guessing that represents paid placement and advertising?

  • Well, as I mentioned in February’s version of this, I’m not entirely sure how to classify Yext. They have a direct feed to all those places but slightly different business model. Hence the different color. How would you classify them?

  • With all of the talk of the Semantic Web, how do you see Wolfram|Alpha making an impact on the ecosystem in the future? They have already a key player for Apple’s Siri product and recently partnered with Samsung in June to power their version of Siri.

  • Thanks – as always – for going to all the work of putting this together, David. You da man!

    Some day it might be funny to do a time-lapse video that shows the Ecosystem getting bigger and messier – one year and a hundred blue arrows at a time.

    Just curious: what was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” that made you update this after ~6 months rather than ~1 year? (I’m guessing it’s some combination of Apple and Acxiom, but I didn’t know if there were any big shifts.)

  • Correction: meant to say any *other* big shifts.

  • I’d label it
    Active Feed (Sponsored Submission)

  • David, great graph as always! It’s going to be an interesting year with the new Apple Maps. Oh well with all of the other changes in local recently, I guess the best timing is now.

  • Love the emphasis on mapmaker; this is typically an overlooked tool, but it gives a pretty clear view into a location’s ‘data cluster’.

    I agree that Yext is hard to classify, but since the data is not persistent, i.e. it does not stay on the site once the term of the placement has expired, I would classify it as a ‘paid listing placement’.

  • I remain firmly convinced that Map Maker, and not the Places Dashboard, is the REAL backend for Google +Local.

    I think you are witnessing the affect of timing issues. MapMaker and verified business data from the dashboard, in theory, have rough equity as data sources for G+Local/Maps/Places Search. And except in cases of spam, the dashboard would trump.

    But (and this is a a big but) MapMaker got access to a new, faster data pipeline and because Places Dashboard was in transition it did not. Thus data in MapMaker currently makes it into the index almost immediately after an edit has been approved (the approval process can be time consuming unless you go into the forums and beg). Edits in the Places dashboard can take days and even weeks currently. But that is temporary.

    You should withhold judgement as to which of the two sources is paramount (I think that they equal) until work on the new G+ local pages and the new backend to it are done. As of now, MapMaker is the fastest way to get data into Local but in new G+local social pages, it is very likely that verified data will pass in real time to the page. In fact on currently verified and merged G+ local pages that is currently the case for things like photos and hours.

    Nice work.

  • David:
    The best email address at which to contact you regarding permission to use the graphic? Fantastic work with the update. Thanks.

  • Adam Kaufman

    This is always a great image. How about we start a conversation around duplicate listings when YEXT creates dups even after you claim a listing directly. Not just YEXT for that matter. Most of the YEXT’s and UBL’s in the space. In addition to companies like Prospect Genius, service magic create duplicate listings with tracking phone numbers. A major issue is multiple feeds creating duplicate listings. That’s why an SMB or or corporation should never take a shortcut to CLAIMING there business data.

  • A new local ecosystem map is always a cause for celebration and is the first place I go to track down origins of odd listing errors. I feel like I take it too much for granted. Thanks for the work, David! I was glad to see Apple included. I wasn’t quite sure how they fit in until now.

  • How big of a role do you think the local ecosystem plays in search engine optimization, and with multiple feeds creating duplicate listings do you think a site could be penalized ?

  • A valued graphic indeed – great job David.

    That said Adam Kaufman is spot on with regards to Yext. Universal business listing tools (like Yext) are just duplicate listing generators, and using any form of tracking number is a sure way to dilute local SEO – not good at all. What wasn’t mentioned was the degree of detail Yext (types) included in a business listing – certainly not as thorough as hand submission. I had a great conversation with Yext CEO (I forgot his name) a few years ago regarding services done for some of my clients – resolution: Yext restored my clients listings to their original state – it took a couple weeks. In this conversation I was told Yext may not be a good solution for businesses who hire SEO marketers. While the honesty of the CEO earned tons (tons!) of respect from me – it has not earned my future business. Maybe tomorrow, but not today…

  • Guys,
    Thanks for all the comments on this. I have made the change suggested in terms of adding ‘paid placement’ to the legend.

  • Hey David,

    Great post as always. What are your thoughts of the Merge of Google Places to Google Local. The system seems to be broken and many SEM’s and Local SEO’ers are up in arms about the whole fiasco. In your opinion, is it best to way till the dust settles or start moving your clients over now? Thanks in advance 🙂

    – Andrew

  • Dan Lorren

    Great stuff. Probably Milo and Goodzer should also be included?

  • David, thank you very much. I am using this diagram as desktop (center of focus) for my pc.

    Favecentral is indeed an important part of the system but till today I have not figured out a way to contact them. Agreed, they require a reciprocal link if we are looking to add a listing, but how do you contact them if you want to remove a bad listing (with invalid NAP)?

    Can anybody help, please?

  • Vijay, you can email them at

    However, I’m disappointed that you ignored my copyright statement. This image should not live anywhere other than without permission. Please remove it from your screencast account. Thanks.

  • David, thanks a ton.

    My sincerest apologies for the screenshot, that was thoughtless…. removed.

  • Luke

    Geez is this a lot of info to digest. Thank you for the update and your continuous contributions to the local world. Awesome to say the least.

    I’ve seen reservations from people using paid services for local business listings. What is the consensus on paid business listings such as Yext, UBL, Citygrid, etc.? Is it worth the cost? Is there any value in paying for distribution or is it better to hunker down and manually add NAP and business info to local business sites individually?

  • Carla

    Hi David,

    I use UBL and Localeze to distribute my client’s business info to local listing directories. I handle Google Plus Local myself as it is the most important. There is an annual renewal fee to keep each listing “active.” I’m not sure why this is really something we need to do if the listing information doesn’t change…aside from being added to Apple maps and other new directory sites.

    UBL says that if our listing is removed from their database that we run the risk of being removed from local listing directories. Is that true or a ploy to get more money? I would think once something is updated or added, say on Yelp or Citysearch, it would not be taken down regardless of what is in UBL’s database.

    It is important that your business info exists and is correct across all platforms, I know. Can UBL be used as a one and done service or is it important to continue to pay them to make sure your listings are not removed?

    Here is there response:
    “if you do not renew, your record will be removed from the “active” file that we provide to directories. Different sites and distribution partners will treat deactivated UBL listings in different ways, according to their policies. Some may keep the listings active and some may delete them. This is beyond our control.

    Moreover, we believe your profile has not been distributed to many new important outlets, including the new Apple mapping service, which have appeared since the profile was originally submitted. If you fail to act, your listings will no longer be treated as coming from a trusted source, as they are currently flagged by InfoGroup and other important data providers.”


  • Hi Carla,
    It’s probably true that UBL will no longer distribute your listing as a result of you canceling your contract, but there’s nothing to say you can’t go around and claim the listing yourself at those major sites like,,, and others.

    UBL (nor ANY of the current data aggregators) should not be used as a “one and done” service…provided you have the time to claim the other search engines yourself. If you don’t have that time then I’d probably recommend renewing your contract with them.

  • Carla

    Thank you!

  • Jason Decker

    Can you recommend listing distribution service like Localeaze that works in Canada?

  • Hey David,
    I love this graphic & refer to it all the time working in local search. I just found out a couple valuable facts that you may want to factor in if you get a chance. After a lot of time spent on the phone with all three companies, apparently, DexKnows paid campaigns use tracking numbers that can feed directly into (and override claimed listing information) in both Superpages and

    If a client signs up for certain advertising packages with DexKnows, they may use a tracking number (which doesn’t necessarily need to be in the actual listing itself) that will override or create duplicate listings on Superpages and YP that those companies cannot/will not delete or edit.

    Thought you may find this information interesting.

  • Hey David.

    Should there be an arrow pointing to Angie’s List? Or are you intentionally showing it as stand-alone?

    Thank you – for the answer to the question AND for the updated graphic!


  • Hi Donna,
    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to ascertain where Angie’s List is getting its underlying baseline data from; that’s why it’s out on its own.

  • Bryan Gray

    I’ve noticed YP advertising listings share data with the CityGrid network as well.

  • Bryan, can you share a screenshot with me? I’d love to include it in the next update.

  • Jim

    David, what’s the best email I can reach you at to get written permission to use the graphic?