Methods to Manage Listings| Hitchhikers Platform
What You’ll Learn
In this section, you will learn:
- The three main ways you can manage your listings
- The pros and cons of data aggregators, manual submission, and direct integrations
Three Ways to Manage Listings
There are three main approaches to manage listings. You can:
- Use data aggregators
- Manually submit data
- Use a service that directly integrates with a publisher
Data aggregators are companies that gather data about local businesses at the largest possible scale, and then sell or distribute that data out to a network of third-party online business directories, mapping services, GPS services, and mobile apps. Examples of data aggregators include Factual, Infogroup, and Localeze.
Publishers source their data from a variety of different channels, but will often use data aggregators as a base file of data because of the quantity of data they provide. However, data aggregators don’t necessarily care if the data they’re collecting is accurate and therefore, can often be the source of old or incorrect business data. Because of this, there’s no guarantee that third-party services will accept data they collect from data aggregators. And even if they do accept it, it can take weeks or even months for that information to update on the publisher. This process heavily contributes to the creation of duplicate listings, which we will cover later in the Duplicate Suppression module.
Additionally, data aggregators can only process basic information, like business name, address, and phone number. As we mentioned in earlier units, your brand is so much more than just a name, address, and phone number. In today’s world of search, consumers are asking more pointed questions and searching for specific attributes. By not powering the rich facts about your brand on third party-services, not only will consumers have a poor experience, but search engines will be less likely to surface your brand in search.
Data aggregators are also unable to provide any analytics of your performance in search. In order to receive that data you need to have a direct relationship with third-party services. This is a major negative because analytics allow you to understand how your entities are performing in search and make informed improvements.
Does it ever make sense to use data aggregators? Yes, we’ve found that it does make sense to use data aggregators at times. Data aggregators should never be the base file for your business, but it can be beneficial to use data aggregators in scenarios like store closings or rebrands. Also, data aggregators are a great affordable option for new businesses looking to get their basic information out to a lot of places.
Much like it sounds, manual submission is the process of creating or updating any business information directly onto a third-party site by hand. For example, if you wanted to update your holiday hours, you would have to sign into Google to make that update, then to Facebook, Yelp, etc. As you can imagine, this requires tedious work and is prone to user error. You can pay a company to manually submit data on your behalf or you can do this internally, but the same risks still exist.
The number of publishers and places that consumers can interact with your brand continues to grow, which means that using a manual approach is not sustainable as there will always be more services to update your information on in the future.
Even with all of the manual effort associated with them, manual submissions do not provide control over your listings and there’s no guarantee that your data won’t change. Publishers are constantly compiling data and updating their business information, so even if you successfully update your business information manually, you’ve only done so for an instance in time. The next day, or even as soon as a few hours later, your information is at risk of being updated again by the publisher.
With regards to duplicate listings, manual submissions still require that you use a separate tool that actively surfaces potential duplicates in order to effectively manage this process. Lastly, analytics can only be accessed individually from each publisher, making it extremely difficult to holistically measure your brand’s performance in search.
Integrated Service with Direct Integrations
An integrated service will create or update business information through direct relationships with the publisher. Each publisher treats data differently, which is why using direct integrations provides unparalleled speed and scale. Making one change in your platform reflects across over a hundred integrated third-party services, with most updates happening in real time. This not only significantly reduces the chance of user error but also provides confidence that no other source can change your information. Even while publishers continuously compile data from other sources, only the data stored and updated in your integrated platform will be reflected on those respective third-party sites.
Direct integrations give you the benefit of providing data fields that unique publishers accept while also providing a one to many scale, to reach many publishers at once. That way, if Google, Yelp, or Amazon have a few extra fields of data they accept, you will be able to provide that specific data to certain publishers and not others, while still reaching them all.
Direct relationships with each publisher via an API, check out the API Module, provides the ability to receive data from the publisher in the form of analytics. Analytics received via direct integrations are usually more robust and allow you to report on metrics across multiple services – this gives you a holistic representation of how your brand is performing in search.