Category Archives: How Yext Works

How Yext Works – Part 4: Real-Time

Wrapping up our four part series on How Yext Works, we now turn our attention toward the nature of real-time data updates, the value they present to every business, and how Yext’s solution is completely unique in this ability. Thus far, we have covered the Match and Lock process of a PowerListing, how Yext’s Dual-Sync technology works, and what happens to NAP and business listings without Yext. Today we are going to look at the real-time nature of Yext PowerListings and what that means to businesses. We often get questions on how valuable real-time data is or is not, and it’s an important topic to discuss when trying to understand the value of Yext.

Yext’s PowerListings service is a real-time service. When a change is made inside of the Yext platform to a business listing or the enhanced content around products, services, menus and more, those changes are available instantly through the Dual-Sync technology between Yext and each publisher on the PowerListings network.

Is patience always a virtue?

There is an old saying that “patience is a virtue”, but to be honest, it doesn’t seem like one. Additionally, I can’t remember the last time I was ever pleased to hear something would actually take longer in business, and I certainly haven’t had a client in any memory say, “Wow, thanks!” when I told them that a request was going to take 2 months verse 2 minutes. For some perspective, let’s look at the typical time process for submitting data through data aggregators or publisher sites verse controlling your data through Yext PowerListings.

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A comparison of real-time control of Yext PowerListings verse submission of data to the normal compilation process at data aggregators and publishers

While this diagram is for illustrative purposes only, and it certainly doesn’t cover all the details at each data aggregator or publisher, it is meant to show a typical process that may be employed to take NAP business listing data and get it properly and perfectly listed across the web. The ranges of time that it takes to get a business listing through each data aggregator or publisher varies widely, but it is safe to say it can take months as documented on Mike Blumenthal’s post, “Citations – Time to Live”. But, honestly, that doesn’t really even highlight the biggest time burden or problem facing a business trying to solve business listings issues.

At the bottom of the diagram, you will notice a large “MAYBE” next to a large “YES”, and herein lies the biggest differences between submitting data over vast amounts of time and controlling your business listing information through Yext PowerListings. No matter when or how often you submit your data through other pathways, the ultimate answer is that “MAYBE” this will correct, replace, update, or change your business listing data. This issue is well documented territory covered by Andrew Shotland and Greg Sterling and also through our Yext Quarterly publication. Data submission must continuously be made, because at any point in a data aggregator or publisher or search engine’s normal compilation process, your business listing information can (and probably will) be overwritten. This situation means that you must resubmit your information and hope that maybe it will eventually update the end publications or presentations of your business listing online.

Now that we’ve covered why not having Real-Time control over your data is severely problematic, let’s turn our attention briefly to how wonderful having Real-Time control over business listing and enhanced content really is.

Through the Real-Time control of your data provided by Yext PowerListings you can:

  • Add new products, services, and menu updates instantly

  • Change your hours of operation mid-day to take the afternoon off and let the world know about it across the web

  • Offer everyone on the planet a free smoothie with their lunch order for the next 15 minutes, and 15 minutes only

  • Capture a great new client experience or completed project and share it instantly across the web and on Facebook

  • Even officially declare the opening of your new business location by cutting the ribbon on the front door and hitting “submit” on your new PowerListing simultaneously

The bottom line is that Real-Time data control is of paramount importance to business listing information and, more importantly, the businesses they represent. This reliance on Real-Time will only grow over the coming months and years as more and more customers will come to expect that your information is up to date, accurate, and everywhere. With Yext, the Dual-Sync integrations across the PowerListings Network combined with the Match and Lock process ensure that businesses are in control of their information at all times, in Real-Time.

How Yext Works – Part 3: Dual-Sync

In Part 1 of our series on How Yext Works, we covered the Match and Lock process that occurs when a PowerListing is made. This process locks the business listing at each PowerListing network publisher, search engine, online directory, social platform and mobile app. Once a PowerListing has been locked, the Yext customer or professional marketer controls that information and all enhanced data and content for that listing until the Lock is removed. To understand what happens without the Lock, read Part 2 of our series, Without Yext.

In this third installment of our series, we want to cover how Yext is able to keep all of the name, address, phone, and rich business listing content constantly updated and correct at each of the PowerListings network sites, search engines, mobile apps, and more through our Dual-Sync technology.

So what is Dual-Sync for PowerListings and why is it important?

Dual-Sync is the direct one-to-one relationship that the Yext platform creates across its entire publisher network. Having Dual-Sync means that at over 50 different web and mobile search engines, directories, websites and more, the Yext platform has a direct connection that allows our clients to make changes and “sync” that NAP and enhanced content and data across the network.
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For any business that has experienced the excruciating process of changing their hours of operation, their logo, their menu, or even their actual working address from site to site and app to app across the web, the benefits of Dual-Sync are obvious. Enter your changes through the Yext dashboard, and all of those changes are instantly synced across the Publisher network.

Dual-Sync continues to evolve and now incorporates rich enhanced content like menus, calendars of events, inventories, products, biographies, and just about any other content set a small business would want displayed across the web. Additionally, Dual-Sync for Facebook launched last month and has been an instant hit with Yext subscribers and partners. This direct connection across our PowerListings Publisher network makes certain that you only need to update this content in one place.
Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 10.17.24 AM
Dual-Sync not only means that we push the data and content out to the publishers, but we also receive feedback on the status of that information. While there are some nuances from publisher to publisher, this closed loop allows you to instantly know that your business listings, photos, logos, and enhanced content is showing up exactly where, how and when you want it to. Click here to see the Yext Network and the details around their Dual-Sync functionality.

Next week, we will cover the real-time nature of Dual-Sync and the Yext PowerListings Network and why that difference matters more and more.

How Yext Works – Part 2: Without Yext

This part of our series on How Yext Works is about what happens to business listings and information either without Yext or after someone has elected to not renew their Yext subscription. Having not been at Yext very long, this was one of my biggest questions and, frankly, misconceptions upon my arrival. Looking at many blog posts and comments out there, I am clearly not alone. So let’s discuss the (unthinkable) scenario of what happens after Yext PowerListings are turned off, which also provides some insight into what happens to all business listing data without Yext.

As we covered in the first installment of this series, Yext PowerListings give control of business listings to business owners and professional marketers through a process called Match and Lock.

But what happens when the PowerListings subscription is not renewed?

Does the business listing data get deleted by Yext at each publisher?  Does Yext take down the Name, Address, Phone (NAP) from each of the sites and search engines? Does the business’s online presence disappear? Lastly, does Yext put the old data back that used to be wrong?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding and emphatic, NO!

The simple answer to each of these questions is that effectively, the Lock comes off. What that means is that the NAP is not deleted or removed by Yext, but the Lock that was put in place to protect the business listing is no longer present. Once this occurs, the business listing is subject to the normal compilation process at the search engine, online directory, mobile app, or social network. In fact, because Yext no longer has this lock in place, Yext has no control over the listing directly at all, and the business listing data will now act as it normally would occur without Yext.

Further, when a PowerListing becomes inactive, the enhanced content (photos, menus, hours of operation, products, biographies, featured messages, and more) that was connected to the business listing ceases to be available. This situation happens because the Lock that provides the Dual-Sync technology that delivers this enhanced content is the same Lock that protects the PowerListing, and it is no longer connected. In reality, this content is still available on the Yext platform, but it can no longer be accessed because the Lock came off of the business listing and that connection has been severed.

Now, for the more detailed answer of why the NAP and other data changes quickly following the cancellation of a PowerListing, I pulled together a diagram to outline some of the many differences and disparate data sources at work behind a “normal compilation process” at a data aggregator, publisher, or search engine. “Normal compilation” is something of a misnomer as there isn’t really anything normal about it. From Publisher to search engine to mobile app to directory site, each utilizes a different method to match, merge, and select the NAP data it will choose to display. This process is what occurs without Yext everyday, and it only ceases to be the norm when a Yext PowerListing Lock is in place.

A detailed comparison of normal compilation vs the control provided by Yext PowerListings.

A detailed comparison of normal compilation vs the control provided by Yext PowerListings.

Looking at the diagram, a business or professional marketer can always choose between Yext and the normal compilation process. If they choose to utilize Yext, the Lock put in place will protect the business listing and ensure perfect NAP (and enhanced content) at all the PowerListing network publishers. If, at some point, the business or professional marketer chooses to not renew their Yext subscription, the Lock simply comes off, and their data is now subject to the normal compilation process. Without Yext, there are now hundreds or thousands of competing data sources fighting for control over what NAP data is displayed.

From there, each of the 50+ publishers, search engines, website directories and mobile app platforms, as well as several data aggregators, will need to each be sent owner claims and submissions of business listing data. You as the owner of the business or professional marketer representing them will need to make these submissions, repeatedly. Remember, this isn’t any different than if you attempted to claim and maintain perfect NAP information without Yext at every one of the Publishers in the PowerListings network.

One last, very important point on this topic. There is no permanent solution to business listing data staying correct or in control of a business or professional marketer without maintaining the Lock from PowerListings. Either a business must continue to submit their data to each and every one of the normal compilation processes repeatedly, or they can utilize a manual service to do so. Every compilation platform will make mistakes, overwrite key data points, and occasionally accept wrong or false data as they are not the business owner or the professional marketer whose livelihood depends on this information being correct and perfect at all times in all places. Further, submission is no guarantee that the data will be updated, accepted, corrected, or even created.

Remember, this is in no way the fault of the publishers, search engines, data aggregators or even the businesses and professional marketers trying to correct the data. Getting perfect location information (and hopefully enhanced content) about businesses correct across millions of businesses is extremely difficult and time consuming. Each party is doing their best, but with thousands of sources, match algorithms, nuances, and opinions on how to do this, the process will continue to be time consuming and difficult for all parties.

In other words, Yext is the most time efficient and cost effective way to maintain control of your business listings across the web.

How Yext Works – Part I: Match and Lock

Over a series of blog posts in the coming weeks, I want to explore some of the basics of exactly How Yext Works. As a newcomer to Yext, my interest in outlining this is two-fold.  First, I hope to define some basics about PowerListings that I have learned since arriving at Yext, and second, these posts may serve as a primer by which future discussions and debates may be had about how fundamentally different the location data ecosystem is and how businesses should best navigate.

When a business or brand purchases a PowerListings subscription, the first thing that occurs is the Match and Lock.  Both are absolutely critical steps in the creation of a PowerListing.

The Match process is exactly as it sounds and happens the moment the initial name, address, phone number data (NAP) and other information for the business location is entered into the Yext dashboard. The following diagram is certainly not meant to be exhaustive or too detailed, but it gives us a simple framework to reference.

Match & Lock

All match systems have similarities, but all are unique in how and what they match against. Without going into the complexities, it is important to point out that this algorithmic process is a science unto itself, and will continue to evolve industry-wide.  We will later discuss these algorithms and their place in data compilation strategies in a subsequent post.

In the diagram above, all of the normalization and match processes are unique to Yext, but it is the thick blue lines that repeat the various matches across the PowerListings network that truly differentiate the Yext Match and Lock process.  When Yext doesn’t find a match to a current client, we then proceed to run a match against every PowerListing Publisher partner in the network to identify the business listings that match.  This happens through a custom integration point with each Partner and is not a scraping mechanism common to other platforms.  In other words, as Yext attempts to find a match or not, our PowerListing is connecting to the actual database and unique IDs at each PowerListing Publisher.  Which makes the next step, which is even more unique to Yext, possible.

The Lock process occurs when Yext identifies a business listing match at a PowerListing Publisher site.  The Lock is completely unique to Yext, as all other data suppliers, aggregators, and even direct submissions from business owners do not “Lock” the listing from being changed or altered.  Yext takes control of the business listing at each PowerListing Publisher and is no longer subject to changes from hundreds or even thousands of other sources.  You can read about those sources in our explanation of the “normal compilation process”.  While its a complex process, you can relax in knowing that for the most part, you only see the benefits and results in the screenshot below showing how my business listing has been “PowerListings Synced” across the entire Publisher network.

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.53.51 AM(Our clients see “PowerListings Synced” once the Lock is in place)

Remember, the Lock is one of the key features of a PowerListing.  It’s what enables our clients to have total control over their business listing data across the PowerListings Publisher network.  It’s where citations come from and it’s how our dual-sync technology enables our clients and partners to solve the massive issues facing business listing data inaccuracies while also creating the opportunities that come with content rich business listings across the world’s top publisher sites, search engines and mobile apps.  More on that in our second post on How Yext Works: Dual-Sync.