Update: A Mozzer pinged me in a private Slack channel to lmk that they they are punting on listings management and working on relaunching MozLocal with more valuable features. This is slightly at odds with my guess at what happened below (but hey, #blogger), but it sounds like they are looking at baking more “Local” data into their SEO tool suite which kind of fits with my take that that is where they have the biggest advantage/opportunity. Here’s what they said:

“Moz promised to re-focus on SEO 2 or so years ago. This was the impetus behind Keyword Explorer, Link Explorer, and On-Demand Crawl. Listings management is tangential to SEO, so rather than continue to maintain a service that is utterly distinct from everything else we do at Moz, we decided to partner so that we could put more energy into improving the Local Search product outside of listings management. I think customers will be very pleased when they see what we have in store for the coming months”

Just saw the news that Moz appears to have basically outsourced Moz Local functionality to Uberall. I guess it was announced last week, but the fact that there has been zero chatter and zero news reports about this until yesterday may be indicative of what drove this deal. I have no inside knowledge of why it happened, but I have a blog so I can pretend like I know (see E-A-T).

Local listings management is a crazy game. On the one hand you’ve got YUGE brands (think Target, Kohls, Macys, etc.) who have a hard time managing the location data for thousands of businesses and would probably love to outsource the NAPPITA™ as much as possible. In most organizations I have been exposed to, “Local” is the red-headed, bastard stepchild. Think more Theon than Ramsey. Most digital orgs that have thousands of locations think of themselves as ecommerce first and “local” a far-distant second. So a service like Moz Local makes sense to keep an eye on the bastards for the brands.

On the other hand, you’ve got SMBs which everyone thinks is a gold mine because there are so damn many of them. But once you get into trying to acquire and service them, you realize it is death by 20 million cuts. So maybe you come up with this brilliant idea to partner with agencies and let them incur the hassle of servicing these SMBastards ® only to find that they have their hands full acquiring, servicing and maintaining clients and don’t always appreciate giving a cut of the revenue to another vendor, particularly for something as hard to measure as NAP consistency. And when an agency’s client churns after a few months, I imagine they are looking at annual subscription services they signed that client up for and thinking not positive thoughts.

The problem is well-funded competitors like Yext* and Uberall are playing a global game and trying to grab as much big-brand market share as they can. It’s a big market to be sure, and there’s a ton of opportunity, but there are also plenty of competitors right behind them like Brandify, Rio, Reputation.com, SweetIQ, entire villages in the Philippines, etc. making it hard to stand out.

There’s a saying in Local, “SMBs don’t buy anything, they’re sold.” Same goes for big brands for anything they can’t put on the corporate credit card. So you need a salesforce. Which costs a lot of Benjamins.

So if you’re Moz, you’re hoping that your brand equity flows over to Moz Local and all of those big brands with locations that are subscribing to your SEO tools will naturally buy MozLocal because who wants to deal with multiple vendors?

Except you’ve got well-funded and scrappy competitors on the SEO tool suite side like BrightEdge, Conductor, OnCrawl, Botify, DeepCrawl, SEMrush, Ahrefs and on and on who are likely grabbing a lot of the big brands who might use MozLocal.

So Moz has to pick its battles. And typically when that happens, the core business wins.

Acquiring GetListed (and David Mihm) to create Moz Local was a great move on Moz’ part, but it seems clear from this deal that the market has changed significantly since then. The assumptions that went into that deal likely no longer apply. Moz, like any other business, needs to focus on its biggest opportunities for future growth. It seems clear from this deal that Local, or at least this PITA part of Local, is not Moz’ future.

As for Uberall, this seems like a great move for them. With their acquisition of NavAds last year , Uberall emerged as the feisty number 2 in this game. It will be exciting to see them, Yext and the other players duke it out. The ultimate winner will likely be the popcorn industry…

*FYI LSG does consulting for Yext and our blog format is still screwed up from a PHP upgrade. Who has time to deal with this crap?

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12 Response Comments

  • Russ Jones  June 14, 2019 at 8:21 am

    This seems pretty correct. We plan on reinventing what a Local Search product should be, and part of that involves recognizing that listings management is just a small part of the whole endeavor.

  • Sarah Bird  June 14, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Agreed that it’s a big market and that keeping NAP consistent is a big and important challenge for businesses large and small. And also agree that there are great companies in our industry with various specialties. We are, and always will, look to partner with companies that do great work and will help our customers improve in search. We respect Uberall’s distribution technology a great deal and are delighted to work with them. We’re focused on helping customers, not on who writes the code.

    Also, as you know, there is WAAAY more to Local SEO than NAP distribution.

    Maybe we missed the mark with messaging? We’re super excited about our partnership with Uberall and how it’s helping us better serve customers. Your blog post did make me chuckle a bit, because we have a strong partner ecosystem that we talk about quite a lot. (Here’s a link to our recent press release that talks about our partnership with Uberall and others. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190604005176/en/Moz-Expands-Partner-Ecosystem-Delivers-Best-of-Breed-Local) The intent behind our partnerships, is to deliver more powerful resources and tools. We’re investing a lot in Local SEO right now. I’m not going to say more at this time because surprises are fun……

    By the end of summer, you’ll get to see some of our innovative Local SEO solutions. I am resisting the powerful urge to say more! We are deeply committed to helping our customers understand and excel at local SEO.

    In fact, if you’re up for a special walk through of what we’re working on, we’d be happy to connect right after our public announcement in July.

    • Andrew Shotland  June 14, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Thanks for stopping by Sarah and Russ. Happy to look at the new stuff whenever convenient. Best of luck with the relaunch.

      • Andrew Shotland  June 14, 2019 at 9:54 am

        And re the messaging, I think the soft-announce of the Uberall deal – at least as far as I can tell – decoupled from the “new Moz Local” PR you’ve been doing (which I of course didn’t see) made it seem like you were purposely underplaying it (perhaps only to the ten or so Local navel-gazers like myself that is). Seems like announcing Uberall at the same time as the new ML would have been a clearer way to do it, but I only play a PR expert on the Internet, so take it for what it’s worth.

  • Jason  June 15, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Sadly Moz punted on their product 4 years ago. They decided to increase the pricing while neglecting the issues that plagued it. It was beyond broken and a royal dumpster fire. I keep hearing the talk of them doubling down on local. It was LSG that made the prediction that Mozlocal was going to be gone. I still see that coming to fruition. Moz did not address my concerns back then, and I am not confident that they have now or will. I moved on and have a better solution. My NAP is where it needs to be, which Moz failed to deliver. I am now in the show me state. They have to prove it as actions speak louder than words and talk is cheap.

    • Andrew Shotland  June 15, 2019 at 10:11 am

      I don’t think we ever predicted Moz Local would go away. In my last review of Moz Local I did point out a number of challenges the service had at the time. I do believe Moz fixed a lot of these problems within months of that article. But we have not been a big user of the service since then.

      • jason  June 16, 2019 at 9:34 am

        Found it. It was the Feb 28, 2018 post: Who Is Next In Local Listings Management? that referenced both Moz and Uberall on the list of businesess, “would put my money on one or more of these companies getting acquired…” Here we are 16 months later and they are partnering up. At the end of the day, nobody will care who’s name is on the service, they will only care if it works. Name recognition will only carry you so far.

        • Andrew Shotland  June 16, 2019 at 9:57 am

          Damn, I should have put some actual money down as Uberall acquired NavAds about 6 months later.

          If I had to guess, Location3 and Chatmeter would be the next on the list as from the outside it appears that both are experiencing strong growth. And if I had to guess on who the acquirer would be, I am thinking either a media company that serves “Local” at scale – like Gannett buying SweetIQ, or one of the funded SEO tool sets (e.g. BrigthEdge or Conductor) that wants to shore up its offerings for brands. But again, #blogger.

          I think what we’re seeing is several of these companies morph into all of the things a brand would need to outsource to manage locations.

  • Rabby  June 22, 2019 at 3:54 am

    Genius article Andrew :).
    Thank you so much

  • Raju Galagali  June 25, 2019 at 4:52 am

    Andrew ‘s blogs are always informative & funny at the same time. Love to read your blogs bro..

  • Tony  June 28, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Great job giving an accurate (and snarky) summary of the difficulties related to listings management, and having to help big brands and/or smb’s. NAPPITA™, LOL, that’s brilliant!

  • Wolfgang Jagsch  July 12, 2019 at 6:10 am

    LOCAL SEO is more important ever. Here in good old austria it is starting now. The market is years behind the us-market. So their will be a high demand for Local SEO Solutions. Thanks for sharing. Keep on rocking!