2020 Customer Experience Differentiator: Gaining Brand Publicity Through Better Search
IBM estimates that 90% of the world's online data has been created in the past two years. In other words, content is being posted to the internet at a faster rate than ever. Much of that content is explored through Google, controlling 88% of the search market, as the world’s most powerful search engine and reigning champion of language processing.
While many brands are churning out unreliable content, slapping a URL on it, and stuffing it in Google’s search engine, it’s harder than ever for businesses to differentiate themselves and deliver their own answers. Worse, it’s harder than ever for customers to find what they’re searching for. Hovering around a market value of 80 billion, search has become an extremely competitive market in the past decade.
Despite the market’s importance to businesses trying to relay information, and consumers, well, consuming it, the market remains oversaturated with biased machine learning algorithms and outdated seo practices, larger quantities of lower quality customer feedback, fake news, and quite generally, unreliable content.
That’s why businesses from local mom-and-pops to the largest tech enterprises (Apple, Facebook, Snapchat, Yelp, Instagram, and Google itself) are partnering with cloud-based search companies to deliver more reliable content, increase relevant search results, enhance brand reputation, and deliver optimal customer experiences to niche target markets. Yext, a partner of each of those enterprises, is doing exactly that.
“Shouldn’t the answers come from you?”
In reference to Yext, former tech start-up and recently publicly traded search company, T-Mobile Senior Search Manager, Glenn May, pointed out the exponentially growing problem brands are facing and Yext is solving. “Every day customers ask questions about your brand. Shouldn’t the answers come from you?”
In other words, brands need to find a better way to speak for themselves, differentiate themselves from third-parties and over saturated search results, and figure out how to answer the questions that customers are frequently asking.
Just over two months ago, Yext Answers was released, the search product that’s beginning to turn heads.
In an interview with CEO Howard Lerman, conducted earlier this year, he compared user-generated content to “tyranny,” and claimed the company’s “founding principle is that the ultimate authority on how many calories are in a Big Mac is McDonald’s.”
To further Howard’s point, competitors, self-proclaimed experts, and media outlets with ulterior motives oftentimes display information about a brand that may or may not be true. This information competes with McDonald’s information in Google’s search algorithm, giving customers a cluster of inconsistent information.
However, it’s the brand’s job (McDonald’s) to display the correct information about themselves or their products and services (like how many calories are in a Big Mac). As Glenn May says, “shouldn’t the answers come from you?”
Yext answers to search-based problems
According to tech crunch, “It’s a theme that Lerman returned to when he demonstrated the new product… running a number of Google searches — such as ‘student checking account’ — where a brand might want to be relevant, but where the results mostly come from SEO-optimized advice and how-to articles from third-party sites,” similar to the way a self-proclaimed health expert delivering advice or competitor fast food chain might display misinformation about a Big Mac.
“The world of search became pretty cluttered with all these self-declared experts,” said Lerman.
While the development wasn’t (deploying engineers who have spent two years building the search engine), the goal with Yext Answers is easy. It has the capability to turn any brand’s website into a reliable source that customers can turn to for questions they need answered.
While Google makes small SEO changes to their search algorithm every year, Lerman says that for the most part, “the algorithms that are there today are the algorithms of 1995. It’s keyword-based document search.”
Organizations that use Yext Answers get analytics about what people are searching for on their site. If people are searching for a question that the site isn’t answering, businesses can then take advantage of their company’s knowledge base, creating actionable customer analytics for brands to rectify information silos.
CCW Digital recently got in contact with Yext and here’s what they had to say:
"We believe the future of site search – of all computing really – is natural language," said Zahid Zakaria, Senior Director of Customer Insights & Analytics at Yext.
"We're all being trained by Google, Alexa, and others to expect direct answers to natural language questions in search, and we bring these high expectations with us to company websites when we click the search bar on the homepage to ask a question about the business. However, traditional site search based on keyword indexing often cannot answer even the most basic questions about a business, which disappoints the user and causes us to bounce back out to a search engine to try to find what we need. At Yext, we saw this problem and created Yext Answers, a site search technology based on natural language processing and a knowledge graph of structured facts, that can return direct answers to the user. Not only does knowledge graph-based site search provide a better customer experience, but it results in more transactions. One financial institution using Yext Answers saw a 25% higher conversion rate with Yext Answers than with traditional site search."
Oversaturated content combined with faulty search practices makes it very difficult for customers to pinpoint solutions to their needs.
Whether it’s third-party media outlets, self proclaimed experts, or competitors displaying information about a business, brands need to regain their voice and deliver answers to customers. Those who do will create next level customer experiences in 2020.