Talk about doing something on the QT. In what is probably the quietest and yet still heavily influential change made by a major data provider, Localeze has done away with its free business listing option. Now the only option for businesses to add their business information to the site is the $297 per year Premium subscription plan, which is a good chunk of money for small businesses or start-ups. And it has to be paid in one lump sum!
I’m baffled by the move. How can one of the major data providers, a site that is basically required for local SEO, make such a significant change with absolutely no mention of it on its website (neither under its news and events, knowledge base, nor account pricing options) or in an email to its account holders? I found out about it, as I’m sure other marketing firms and webmasters will, when I tried to add a new client’s business listing.
The Logic Behind the Change and Its Impact
According to sources, Localeze eliminated its free option around mid-April as a means of ensuring the accuracy of its listings. Apparently, Localeze was receiving a huge volume of bogus listings with its free program, as well as many with mobile or VOIP phone numbers that made it nearly impossible for it to manage authentication under its landline phone verification system.
I suppose I get the logic behind the move. With Localeze one of the major data providers for local SEO, if the integrity of the information it is providing to search engines is bad, that affects us all. No one wants to be pushed out of the top spot on Google+Local or other local search engine results by a bogus or inaccurate listing. But if authentication is the only reason for Localeze eliminating the free basic listing, with today’s sophisticated technology, couldn’t it have come up with some other way to verify a listing? Google, for example, requires either phone or mail verification to ensure that the person editing the listing also, at the very least, has access to the phone & address of the business.
But what I question is the rationale. Localeze is charging us for something where we do all the work in providing and managing the business information. What are we getting for that $297? Well, according to the Localeze Knowledge Base FAQ, the difference between a basic listing (free) and an enhanced listing ($297 a year) is:
Your basic business listing contains Name, Address and Phone Number, one category and you can only claim a Basic listing if it is already provisioned in the Localeze database.
In the Premium listing, you can add more business categories as well as keyword information, hours of operation, products carried, URLs and other data that will help more potential customers find you in local search results.
We provide a one-stop shop for you to enter this information in a consistent way and we partner with nearly 150 local search platforms who contract with us for this information.
A Premium business listing costs less than $25 a month paid on an annual basis of only $297 a year per listing. This will be renewed and you will be notified prior to the renewal of the subscription.
Save time and money with a single, simple interface to enhance your business information on all search platforms. Our system powers millions of local business searches every day. In fact Neustar Localeze has direct contractual relationships with the largest network of local search platforms in the industry, over 150 in all and including: Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yellowpages.com, Twitter, Facebook, TomTom, and Apple and more.
Certainly Localeze must be getting some good income from those “150 local search platforms,” in addition to the companies that purchase its data. That income is entirely dependent upon them supplying accurate data. I can’t help but feel like Localeze is now charging us to do their job for them. So one has to wonder why Localeze couldn’t come up with a more affordable pricing structure that kept in mind businesses on a tight budget.
So what is the impact of eliminating the free option? Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
- Businesses already listed on Localeze under the free basic listing are grandfathered in, but they can only make one edit a year free of charge.
- Localeze has not changed its policy of claiming your listing for free if it’s already in its database. But, you can only make one change a year to that listing.
- If you’re a new business, budget $297 for Localeze.
Potential Ramifications of Localeze Pay-to-List
It will be interesting to see if the $297 fee will discourage businesses from using the Localeze service. That could lead to outdated business information, which is not something Google or Apple Maps would tolerate for long.
I also suspect very few renewals. I would think once a business gets listed, there would be no reason to change the business information, short of a change in address or phone number. So why renew each year with Localeze; there’s no discounted price for keeping your subscription active from year to year. And since your business information is in the Localeze database, it’s being furnished to local search engines. It would be more cost-effective to simply pay the Premium listing fee again if and when there are any changes to the business listing information. The counter to this is that your listing could get removed from all the sites Localeze feeds to, and that may happen to some extent, but I question whether a company who’s job it is to supply accurate business information would purposely remove that accurate business information from their database.
It also remains to be seen whether doing away with the free subscription could open up avenues for opportunists to find a way around using Localeze while still obtaining the same results. As it is, businesses can circumvent Localeze by adding their business information to other major directories that Localeze uses as citations sources. Many marketing SEO firms already do that to capitalize on local SEO. After a few months, the business listing will be in the Localeze database, so why fork over the $297?
I expect a lot more chatter about Localeze doing away with its free basic listing once more marketers and businesses learn about it. At the very least, Localeze should strongly consider devising a better pricing structure and provide this information clearly on its website. Only time will tell the true impact and ramifications of this change.
Have you been impacted by Localeze’s move to eliminate its free basic listing? How are you dealing with it? Share your thoughts and advice with us.