What Are Data Aggregators? B-SeenOnTop
People lose trust and confidence in a brand or business when online listings are incorrect.

In a 2013 poll of more than 350 small business owners, Constant Contact found that most small business owners (85%) understood the importance of being found on major search engines, mobile device applications, and directory sites but close to half (49%) had seen errors in their listings and not bothered to update them.

A year later Search Engine Watch shared the results of a related study performed by Placeable. The Placeable study showed 73% respondents lost trust or confidence in a brand or business when their online listings were incorrect.

“Brands that fail to ensure the accuracy of search engine location data run the risk of not only missing out on new customers, but jeopardizing their relationships with existing customers as well.”

That is a problem for many time and resource-strapped small business owners because there are hundreds of local business directories across the United States that could potentially need updating. The good news is local data aggregators can help.

What Are Local Data Aggregators?

Local data aggregators are large consumer and business data gathering companies that source, match, resolve, reformat, and sell their data and services to publishers, marketers, and location-based service providers. If you get a direct mail solicitation, a phone call from a telemarketer, an e-mail offer, or targeted online advertisement, there is a good chance the company behind it got information about you from a local data aggregator.

Acxiom in Conway Arkansas is one of the largest local data aggregators - B-SeenOnTop Who Are The Local Data Aggregators
Acxiom in Conway Arkansas is one of the largest local data aggregators. By Adam Bartlett (Flickr: Acxiom Building from 2nd street) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Search engines, mobile application developers, and local directory sites all get data from the local data aggregators. The data aggregators are trusted sources of name, address, and phone number data for every unique consumer and business in the United States.

I don’t know a business owner that does not want to rank at the top of Google search results.

What Are Data Aggregators - Sample of different types of search results | B-SeenOnTop

There are three ways to do it:

  • You can pay for an advertised spot at the top or bottom of search engine result pages (SERPs) using Google’s advertising platform also known as Adwords or Pay-Per-Click (PPC). These “sponsored search results” are shown in the diagram above.
  • You can employ local SEO tactics to become eligible to appear in local (map) results for certain queries with local intent. Examples include “dry cleaners near Drexel University”, “dry cleaners 19104”, or just plain “dry cleaners” if the searcher is using a computer with an IP address in the same ZIP code as Drexel University (19104). Not every query will return local search results. When it does, local search results will usually display next, below the advertised listings and above organic search results.
  • Or you can embrace organic SEO (which usually includes content marketing) to earn your way onto page 1 and display in organic search results.

Google’s ranking algorithm is a closely held secret and no one outside of them knows exactly how it works. There is a general consensus among SEOs however, that the proximity of a business to the point of search and lots of high-quality local citations (mentions of a business by name and address or name and phone number) are key ingredients (among others) to local search success.

One of the easiest ways to acquire high-quality citations is to employ the services of a local data aggregator or citation building service.

How To Gain Access To The Local Data Aggregators

There are four data aggregators in the United States:

A fifth company, Foursquare (foursquare.com) is not a “traditional” data aggregator but should be treated as one if you’re planning to build citations.

You can access the data aggregators directly using any of the links above or via a citation building service like Bright Local, Moz, Whitespark, and Yext.

Neustar Localeze is the only aggregator that currently charges a fee for you to add your business to their distribution network. All of the citation building services charge a fee.

Why Use a Citation Building Service?

Why pay for a citation building service when you can go directly to most of the data aggregators and not have to pay?

There are three advantages to using a citation building service:

  • They simply and streamline access to the local data aggregators.
  • They help ensure data consistency and accuracy across the board.
  • They also capture and distribute additional data that can help increase conversion rates when you do show up in local business directories.

Citation building services give you a doorway into the local data aggregators. You enter your data once. It gets validated, standardized and reformatted for distribution to all the local data aggregators. If duplicates, gaps, inconsistencies, or errors are found, they will be highlighted so you can fix them before your data gets distributed.

Data consistency and accuracy are keys to local search success. Search engines do not use employer identification numbers (EINs) to differentiate one business from another. They use the business name and address or name and phone number data to tell one business from another. If your NAP data is inconsistent or inaccurate, you will not accrue credit for all your citations and you will lower your ranking potential at the search engines. All things being equal, the more (and more consistent and correct) citations you have coming in from reputable sources, the higher you will rank.

The ability to display your business website increases the potential for website visits. What Are The Data Aggregators by B-SeenOnTop
The ability to display your business website increases the potential for website visits.

Citation building services also give you the opportunity to supply additional data – things like description, tagline, website, image, hours of operation, accepted payment types, and social media links – to the local data aggregators and downstream local business directories that accept it. This data can enrich and differentiate your business listing in a crowded market. That sometimes that translates into increased click-thru rates and visits to your place of business or website.

You can compare the different citation building services here.

To see a visual representation of which data aggregators feed what directories, check out the local search ecosystem diagram on the Moz Local website.

This post was first published on the B-SeenOnTop blog as What Are The Local Data Aggregators?