Businesses With Better Information Get 62% More Clicks

By John Wujciak

Nov 2, 2022

6 min

When it comes to winning web traffic for your business, it often seems like most search engines take an "all-or-nothing" approach: follow these friendly guidelines, and your business has a chance. Deviate in any way, and your business will suffer.

That's not exactly fair to the search engines and digital endpoints like Google, Amazon Alexa, and myriad others who provide information about businesses: they simply want to provide the best experience to the end user, and to do that, they need to be confident that business data is complete, accurate, and up-to-date.

In any case, this line of thinking gave rise to the theory that if businesses can "win" in several categories of data management and presentation, they can better convince digital endpoints (read: Google) of their worthiness to be displayed more prominently in search results. (This is an oversimplification of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, but the theory is an age-old one. It's the same idea as, "if I place my store on Main Street, more people will see my store, and they're more likely to come in.")

That said, the act of displaying more information to the consumer isn't just about placement in search rankings — it's about enticement. To go back to the shop on Main Street example: if I have a nice sign, and if my storefront is appealing, and my wares are well-displayed, more people who walk by my store will come in — and there's a good chance my sales improve. This quaint metaphor is retail focused, but the concept applies to primary care physicians, financial advisors, hotels and restaurants, and anyone who does business via at least one physical location.

Everyone wants to win more business, whether that business comes in the form of clicks to a digital storefront (listings, website) or foot traffic to a physical one. The question is: what really drives more clicks for businesses today?

What gets businesses more clicks, anyway?

Recently, the Yext Data Insights team revisited our 2021 conclusion that storing better information leads to more visibility — and ultimately more clicks — on a search engine listing.

We started with a sample of more than one thousand businesses across verticals, ranging from businesses with a single location, to Fortune-500 enterprises with tens of thousands of listed agents, physicians, or storefronts. We consulted Listings expert and Yext Product Manager Calvin Casalino to define a list of core fields for each business type. Unsurprisingly, that list included business name, address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, open/closed status, business description, and relevant images, like logos or headshots where applicable.

We found that in our diverse sample set, most businesses filled out 86% of core fields that were available to the locations that they manage. That's strong, but it allowed room for improvement. To test our hypothesis that better information leads to better engagement, we first looked at performance metrics (search engine impressions and clicks) for businesses that beat the benchmark versus those who fell short.

The results were stark. Businesses that filled out more than 86% of relevant core fields received 43% more impressions on search engines, and 62% more clicks to their business listings. This supports our hypothesis that better information leads to better placement on search engines for more searches (i.e. you are closer to Main Street.)

Better information means more engagement — not just visibility

But the fact that better information had a more profound impact on engagement than visibility (+62% clicks vs. +43% impressions) likely means that the listing was not only better placed, but also more enticing to the end user. In one fell swoop, you are closer to Main Street but you also have a better sign.

But to say that businesses with above average knowledge management see above average search engine performance is somewhat simplistic. To start making a case for a causal relationship between the two, there needs to be a correlation between increasing amounts of stored core information and increasing performance. Categorizing businesses into letter grades for the amount of core information they have stored for their locations — businesses with 90-100% of core information filled in get an A, 86-90% get a B, and 78-85% get a C – is a simple way of showing increased adoption of a strategy leading to increased results.

This categorical analysis showed that businesses who got an A for knowledge management received 49% more clicks than businesses with a B, and businesses with a B received 48% more clicks than businesses with a C.

The effect was similar for impressions, but more top-heavy, perhaps due to the fact that multi-location businesses who fill out almost every scrap of core information begin appearing together in local packs and search results, dominating the visible space and crowding out competitors — but competing with their own listings for clicks.

The final piece to the puzzle is more statistical in nature, employing a metric known as R-Squared*, which Investopedia explains as the percentage of a variables movements that can be explained by movements in another.

While a line of best fit for all businesses within the sample has an R-Squared value of 20% when applied to impressions (visibility), and an R-Squared value of 29% when applied to clicks (engagement), when applied to CTR (click-through rate, the number of impressions that turn into clicks), it has an R-squared value of 62%.

To align this with investopedia's explanation of the metric and put it all in layman's terms, when a search engine user chooses to click on an individual business listing, 62% of that decision can be chalked up to the fact that there is better information on that business's listing — either directly, because the listing is more appealing for having more complete information, or indirectly, because the more complete listing was rewarded by a search engine with better placement.

This is visually corroborated above: businesses that appear further to the right (more core information stored in their knowledge graph), also have a higher likelihood of appearing further toward the top (higher CTR), creating a sweeping up-and-to-the-right trend. Larger bubbles (more total clicks) are also more likely to appear further to the right, and businesses with more recent updates (more green) are more likely to appear both further to the right and further toward the top.

To make this actionable for all business types, further slices can be made by business size (in terms of number of locations managed) where R-Squared values are not less than 59% (businesses with 100-500 locations managed)...

...and by vertical, where R-Squared values reach as high as 87% (hospitality)...

This is all to say that if you're not actively managing your business's core information, or you subscribe to a bare-bones strategy, getting more detailed and scientific about it has concrete benefits in terms of getting you more clicks — and more business.

Click here to learn more.

*All lines of regression are forced to zero, based on the logical deduction that if a business has no information completed for a business listing that listing will not exist on search engines, and will receive 0 clicks. This function can increase R-Squared values.

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