Yext, which has been primarily known for digital presence and listings management, is entering the relatively crowded reviews arena. The company is introducing a product called Yext Reviews, which it characterizes as “a comprehensive review management solution designed to help businesses monitor, engage, generate, publish and analyze their location reviews.”
As indicated, it offers review monitoring, generation, response capabilities and distribution. There are also review-based analytics and insights. Denny’s is an example customer that is using the Yext Reviews product (this page is hosted by Yext).
Customer reviews can be solicited via email, SMS or in-app based on visits and purchases (depending on the customer and its data). Yext also promotes the fact that reviews published to the customer’s own site/app are “pre-optimized Schema.org widgets so stars appear in your organic search results.”
A unique and interesting feature of the product is “review balancing.” When a consumer is asked to write a review, an algorithm “dynamically chooses the most impactful site to direct customers to ensure an even distribution” of reviews across the internet. It’s not clear yet what impact that might have on willingness to write reviews. (If I typically contribute to Yelp and it sends me somewhere else, how would I feel about that?)
I spoke to Marc Ferrentino, Yext chief strategy officer, about the new product and specifically asked whether the company had talked to Yelp about the review generation dimension of the product. He said what Yext is doing is sending people to Yelp to write a review. It’s not screening them or otherwise trying to influence their reviews.
Most independent experts recommend that businesses ask customers to review them — in an ethical way. Yelp has historically frowned on that practice. However, the data show that when asked for a review most consumers will oblige, and generally speaking, the majority of local business customers are happy but not well represented among online reviews.
Ferrentino said that Yext Reviews can be used for any size business, from single shops to multi-location brands and enterprises. During our call, Ferrentino also remarked that businesses with more reviews (assuming comparable ratings) will see on average 50 percent more clicks. Google also previously indicated that “prominence,” which includes reviews/ratings, is a local ranking factor:
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: More reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.