After solving one of the biggest issues with local business listings — keeping them up to date, and easily synchronized across a variety of local services like Yelp and Yellowbook — Yext is now aiming to make those listings even more useful.
Today the New York City-based company is launching PowerListings+, an upgraded version of its existing PowerListings product that will let companies add information like staff bios and product descriptions directly into their local listings.
Yext already lets companies manage their core business information, like their address and hours, from a single location. But with PowerListings+, it’s bringing additional listing information that’s never been easily accessible before to listing providers like Yelp.
“Today [local search] is all about the where… But we don’t think that’s enough, we don’t think that creates the best local discovery experience,” Yext chief executive and co-founder Howard Lerman said in an interview with VentureBeat. “[PowerListings+] enables a business to go beyond the “where” and answer the who, what, when directly on their business listings.”
A doctor’s office could list all of its nurses and doctors with a PowerListings+ Staff Bio, or a yoga studio could list its classes using the Event Calendars listing. Companies can also list detailed descriptions of their products and services, and of course, restaurants will be able to add their menus. This is the sort of information that’s typically found on a company’s website, but those are rarely easy to use when you’re on the run (especially if they’re not even formatted for mobile devices).
Companies can add the new data into PowerListings+ manually, via a spreadsheet, or they can choose to have Yext crawl their website to grab the information. Lerman describes the website crawling feature as “semi-automatic” — some of it is handled automatically, but then a Yext employee combs through the data to make sure it’s correct. Eventually, Lerman says Yext will let companies use their local listing data to power a website, if they don’t have one already.
“This is a pretty big advancement,” Lerman said. “This next layer of data doesn’t exist in the world in a structured format way very well, it’s scattered all over the place. It doesn’t exist in most publisher indexes in a structured way… It’s our vision to be the authoritative global gateway for location information between consumers and businesses, so the more data we have, the more value we have for publishers…”
Yext just recently raised $27 million in a fifth round of funding, bringing its total to more than $65 million from Marker, CrunchFund, Sutter Hill Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), WGI Group, and others. The company sold off its pay-per-call business last fall, and it’s now focusing entirely on local listings.