Place Rewind: Yext’s Quest for Answers

Those who follow Yext know that it’s on an ongoing quest to answer consumers’ questions directly. Its Answers line of products eschews the common search paradigm of link-based results. And for businesses, it provides tools to empower them with their own site search that carries this philosophy.

We got the chance to sit down with Yext Chief Data Officer Christan Ward at Localogy Place to discuss these product philosophies and directions. This is the focus of the latest Place Rewind (takeaways and video below), including a Ted Talk-like address from Ward on everything from brain science to search history.

North Star

Going deeper on Answers, it’s is a sort of North Star for several Yext products, built on the principle that people search for answers, not links. This extends from the concept of knowledge graphs, but democratizes the capability for enterprises to have their own knowledge graph, and attract direct-navigation traffic.

Site owners can also customize Yext Answers to display custom calls-to-action (CTAs) in their on-site search results. For example, a restaurant may offer one-click access to their reservation or delivery systems. A retailer can do similar with eCommerce or curbside-pickup calls to action in its search results.

As it often goes with product “North Stars,” the above permeates almost everything Yext releases. For example, its recent Support Answers brings the answers concept to enterprise service and support. In other words, enterprises can set up Answers-like search functionality to address customer support queries.

Not long before that, Yext announced that Answers will be more accessible by local businesses. It accomplished this by extending the product line to select companies in its Channel Partner Program. This is the program that formalizes Yext’s relationship with partners that resell its software to local businesses.

Yext Extends Answers to SMBs via Channel Partners

Answers-Centric Tech

As its branding suggests, Yext Answers’ claim to fame is natural language search, otherwise known as natural language processing (NLP). That’s a fancy way of saying that it’s designed to answer direct questions with direct answers, deviating from the page/link paradigm that rules the search world, as noted.

This is a broader movement in search that Google has been moving towards over the past decade, given the knowledge panel and featured snippets. NLP is also gaining ground due to its use in voice search, where queries are more often phrased in a natural-language manner, such as full-sentence questions.

As Chief Data Officer, Ward sits at the center of all of this. And as he signals in his Place address, he has his eye on the past, present, and future. The latter includes the emergence of answers-centric tech. That not only includes voice but visual search, where there isn’t room for ten blue links but rather one correct answer.

Of course, this is all a very AI-centric endeavor. Accordingly, Yext has leaned into AI as it builds out Answers’ orbiting parts. To reinforce this ongoing evolution, it recently changed its tagline to the AI Search Company. This symbolically and practically represents Yext’s ongoing journey towards that North Star.

We’ll pause there and cue the video for more color from Christensen. Click below to register to watch the full and stay tuned for periodic installments of the Place Rewind series with more insights and session coverage.

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