Let's say you run a chain of hardware stores with locations across America. It's a blustery January day and the whole east coast has just been hit with a huge snow storm they weren't expecting. You realize that many of your loyal customers may be trying to get to your stores to pick up supplies like shovels, salt, chains for their tires, and even snow plows. While you want to open your doors to your customers, you're not sure you can open all of your locations because many of your workers will not be able get to work safely. That being said, you also don't want your customers to risk driving to your stores to get supplies only to find out that some of your locations are closed. Even if you're able to update your website with the status of each of your store locations, inevitably, many of your customers will look for information about your business in other places, such as search engines, maps, and apps. And because you likely don't manage the information about your business in all of these places across the web, many of your customers may find themselves trekking through the snow, on the way to closed locations.
Businesses across the globe face quandaries like this each and every day. One way to solve this issue is to leverage a solution that can help you reach and manage your business information, like hours of operation, across the different places it lives on the web. API integrations with publishing sites like Google, Apple, and Bing make it easy for companies to update their digital knowledge because they create a direct connection to the places where they want their information to live.
An API stands for Application Programing Interface, which is essentially a connection that enables you to build software on top of it. APIs are often described as technology that help applications or software systems 'talk to each other.' API integrations also enable developers to connect their programs to other applications, which help drive cooperative experiences and seamless data sharing.
A good metaphor to explain what APIs do and how they work is the restaurant. In this example, your order is the API call. You submitting a request for a set of data — in this case, a meal. The plate you receive from the kitchen is the response to the API call. And the menu — the food choices you have based on what the kitchen is able to make for you — serves as the API itself. In conclusion, APIs allow developers to build a program or application on top of a pre-existing data set — and in other cases, make their own meals.
So what do APIs have to do with my brand? Or my store hours? While your brand's website and app may remain central to your company's identity, they are no longer the only source of truth on the public facts about your business. Your customers leverage a diverse set of devices and intelligent services, including apps like Yelp and Foursquare, as well as voice assistants like Siri and Amazon's Alexa. It is no longer feasible to update all of this information everywhere manually. Doing so would be inefficient and most likely result in many inaccuracies (and human errors), perpetuating incorrect information about your brand across the web. Managing the facts about your business demands a digital knowledge management solution that can provide you the breadth, speed, and accuracy to update your brand's digital knowledge rapidly, everywhere you need to. Enter Yext's industry-leading digital knowledge management solution, the Yext Knowledge Engine.
Yext has over 100 API integrations with global maps, apps, search engines, directories, and social networks. Alternative solutions include data aggregators, which compile and sell data sets from sources, that for the most part pay them. And because they sell data to publishers who gather data from a wide variety of sources — data aggregators just being one of them — it's never guaranteed that your data will be published, and it if is it likely takes a very long time. Yext's API integrations provide a much more efficient and effective solution, by going straight to the source and building API integrations with the publishers themselves. These direct API integrations create a solution that allows businesses to manage and update their business information in nearly real-time and from one place.
For example, Yext's integration with Google My Business enables brands to manage their digital knowledge on Google Search, Google Maps, Google+, and Waze. This integration is just one of the many powerful integrations in the Yext Publisher Network. Without Yext, businesses would have to manually update each of their listings on every site across the web for every single one of their locations, making it nearly impossible to send out timely updates on things like store closings, holiday hours, and sales or promotions. The Yext Knowledge Engine's seamless API integrations with search engines, publishers, and more allow your business to update its digital knowledge across the web with the click of a mouse, ensuring your data is visible and correct everywhere.