Yext has been known for helping businesses get all their information (like location, business hours, and such) lined up correctly on the right apps and websites — and now it’s looking to make sure the rest of the pitch is right across the Internet.
Yext, which went public earlier this year, said it is launching a feature called knowledge tags to help businesses make their websites and information more accessible to crawlers and other kinds of query services. It works by storing all the, well, “knowledge” of a business — like its products and features — on Yext and helping their websites be more searchable by engines. That’s going to be important as website usage becomes less and less important over time and people access the Internet in different ways.
“These intelligent services, they don’t really care about fonts and colors,” Yext chief strategy officer Marc Ferrentino said. “When they look at your website, they don’t see that. They see structured data, and they need to see that in the form of Schema. They can’t really see the business very well. if the services don’t know as much about them, ultimately that means fewer clicks, fewer transactions, and fewer directions. It becomes imperative that these websites are built for machine eyes.”
While this may seem somewhat incremental for a typical observer, it is potentially a big move for Yext as it considers what it looks like when websites aren’t as big as, say, voice queries. The Amazon Echo and Google Home exposed a lot of demand for a voice interface, and as more and more people get comfortable with asking questions to their devices businesses need to ready their websites to be easily searchable by the algorithms running those devices. Yext’s steps today are one in what’s likely to be a number of tools businesses will look for if website usage at its core declines.
“It is exactly priming, putting down a foundation, for them to be ready for when this revolution takes full hold,” Ferrentino said. “We’re seeing it now, and it’s happening quickly. It’s one of those things where it happens slowly and then it happens quickly, and then it’s here before we know it. Businesses aren’t unaware of it, they’re savvy. They don’t really know what to do but they know they have to do something. In the last six months, I think there’s been a massive uptick in understanding.”
Yext went public earlier this year as part of a wave of technology companies that looked to get out the door following Snap’s huge IPO. Like Cloudera, Blue Apron, and others, it sought to woo Wall Street with the appeal of its business at a moment where there was an appetite for new IPOs. For Yext, that meant convincing Wall Street that being the hub of the basic information about a business across all formats would create a lot of value.
So far, so good for Yext, which while it hasn’t had any major missteps, also hasn’t had the level of a dramatic misstep of, say, Snap. Since going public, Yext’s shares are about even, thanks partially to a big bump in its stock price yesterday which saw shares jumping more than 9%.