What are data aggregators and what do they do?
Data aggregators are organizations that build databases of information that can be used by search engines, data brokers, and marketing agencies. Essentially they help these agencies by selling them information on businesses and customers to target them better.
Where do they get data from?
These giants collect information by scanning and transcribing yellow pages directories, phone records, utility records, government offices and business registration sites. Using cookies, they can track users’ online activities and extrapolate patterns which can be used to target them later.
In the case of businesses, search engines “trust” the information sent out by data aggregators. So for example if you and a data aggregator are providing different information about your NAP, Google will probably trust the data aggregator more than it trusts you.
How do they fit into the local search ecosystem?
Most search engines and directories do not do 100% of their data collection themselves and will require a third-party that provides a verified feed of data. In this case, they rely on data aggregators to provide this information for them.
The data aggregators’ business is to make money on both sides – data buyer and provider
- Charge businesses to distribute data
- Charge directories and search sites to provide data
Even though data aggs may be providing a feed, they are not published as-is
It takes months of verifying data, modifying it and normalizing it before data aggregators incorporate it into their databases.
Data aggregators can’t be your only method of getting your information out there
It’s a myth to think that you can submit to data aggregators and you’re all set, because there’s no guarantee that any destination site will accept the feeds or process them. Even if they are processed, they may result in the creation of dupes and whole bunch of other hairy issues.
You’re mostly spraying and praying that it works
There’s no guarantee that anything’s going to work, you can’t really rely on this as a strategy for an accurate profile across the web. As a business owner, you won’t have control over what happens during the process and this can cause problems in your SEO efforts.
When a data aggregator is useful
- When you’re not worried about duplicates or creating tons of unclaimed listings
- If you’re a new business with no existing digital presence and need to get your business out there, quickly.
- When you don’t have time to create individual listings on your own and don’t have the budget to hire a contractor
- When traditional methods of correcting your business data on some sites doesn’t work. (This is again flaky since the data may never get propagated or accepted by the source site, especially if your existing profile on the site has already been claimed)
Next time someone tells you to put all your trust in a data aggregator, think twice. SEO is 20% great tools and 80% follow-up. You get what you give and the best results will always come from the work of your own hands, not a machine.