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The ridiculous name “Yext” is just one problem with Yext

We teased it in the headline, but “Yext”? Really? That’s what you want to call your business? It almost sounds like a parody of a modern-day tech company name.

To be fair, Yext actually has been around since 2006, though it really hadn’t cracked the surface of anyone’s attention until recently. (If you haven’t heard of it before, don’t worry.)

That actually adds up, because 2006 was right in the prime of tech companies coming up with increasingly silly names for themselves. While we’ll admit that sometimes it works out — no one’s laughing at “Google” anymore — that’s more the exception than the rule. (We can all agree that “Xfinity” is still just dumb, right?)

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Beyond its curious name, what is Yext?

Well, the short version on the official site says Yext “provides an integrated GeoMarketing software cloud that lets marketers manage their information online.”

If that seems a little ambiguous to you, again, don’t worry: It strikes us as rather cryptic as well. Let’s check out the About Us page for something a bit clearer:

“Yext lets marketers manage their local content, listings, store pages, social pages, campaigns, and more through the functionally integrated Yext GeoMarketing Cloud. Over 250,000 businesses, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies and top retailers use the Yext Cloud.”

Leave it to Wikipedia to make it simple: “Yext is a New York City technology company that enables businesses to update location-related information on multiple websites from one place, thereby providing a centralized Yellow Pages-like service in a more fragmented online environment.”

Well, that makes more sense. It sounds like a service that might have some benefits. So we did a little more digging.

One reason Yext seems to be gaining attention is that it just attracted $50 million in venture capital funding in June. That’s a big number, but recent history is littered with stories of tech companies attracting sizable VC funding and later disappearing from the face of the earth.

Yext is not yet profitable, and its financing reportedly comes as it’s considering an initial public offering. The funding is planned for research and development.

The company uses a process called PowerListings, and it claims that this process helps companies get new clients by using its services. When you sign up, Yext claims, it will get your company ranking highly in more than 20 search engines. It also provides personalized listings when people search for local businesses.

That might all sound good, but from everything we’ve found, Yext appears to be more smoke and mirrors than an actually useful service for legitimate companies. It seems far more focused on generating money by exploiting the ignorance of business owners who don’t understand the Internet well.

No real help in search rankings

If you haven’t done anything whatsoever to market your business, yes, subscribing to Yext will help you rank better. Of course, if you haven’t done anything whatsoever to market your business, anything you do will help you rank better.

There’s little indication that PowerListings from Yext will much of anything to change the rank of your website or company name. It might have some limited effect regarding mentions on Mapquest or Yahoo, but the vast majority of people do their searches through Google.

While Yext submits information to a variety of directories, Google+ Local Listing is not among them. That means it can’t do anything to help you with one of the most useful tools in attracting clients online.

High price, high pressure

If you’re looking to spend a lot of money (at a questionable return on investment) and spend a lot of time fielding cold calls from Yelp representatives, Yext might be for you.

Yext isn’t cheap. Prices start at $500, and you might receive a quote of $1,000 or more. That kind of investment would be worth it if Yext offered excelled ROI, but as we noted earlier, it doesn’t.

According to people who have inquired about Yext by providing information on its website, the experience is comparable to an attractive young woman smiling at the most desperate, clueless guy at the bar.

After filling out the contact form, a Yext representative calls you with a quote. If you turn down the first quote, the representative will offer a lower quote. Even if you say you’re not interested, the calls keep coming. Representatives call at all hours of the day and night, trying to sell you on a different package.

Yext also has been accused on cold calling businesses and claiming that the business inquired about its services — even if the business never did.

Again, companies that decline Yext’s services find themselves inundated with new sales pitches for some time afterward.

Duplication issues

This is a definite problem. If your business isn’t listed anywhere (outside of Google) on the Internet, duplication won’t be an issue for you.

Then again, if your business isn’t listed anywhere (outside of Google) on the Internet, you’re not interested in online marketing at all, and you’re certainly not reading this article.

In reality, most well-run businesses, regardless of their size, are listed in some online directories. For some, it might be a handful — for others, it might be dozens.

And that’s a problem if you use Yext, because in some directories it feeds, a business’s existing listing is found and is updated via the Yext dashboard. But — and this is a big but — in other cases, a Yext submission adds a second listing that matches what you put in the Yext dashboard, rather than updating an existing listing.

What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong is that you don’t want two separate listings. For example, reviews of your business can be split between listings on sites such as Yelp, which can impact your rankings and credibility.

Two stars on Yelp

As of this writing, Yext has a two-star rating on Yelp. That’s based on 44 reviews, which is large enough to be at least somewhat statistically significant. But it’s also remarkably small for a company that prides itself on helping companies market themselves.

When a big key to marketing your company in 2014 is getting a great quantity and quality of reviews on Yelp, how good can you feel about hiring a business that gets a two-star average on 44 reviews on that platform?

Some of the reviews listed on the site — and again, these are reviews that passed the Yelp Filter, meaning that Yelp considers them legitimate and credible — are extremely critical.

This one was posted just a couple of weeks ago:

“When I decided to let them ‘fix’ my listings for me, I now have a CLOSED business on Bing due to Yext! They say they have a ticket in to have it fixed but nothing yet, two months later. It has gotten to the point I may have to seek legal action. The money would be nice to have back, but having my business showing correctly on all the sites is an absolute must.”

Here’s another, also from just a couple of weeks ago:

“Terrible company. Deliberately distorting a company’s information and then profiting from it…. I’ve written my Congressman and asked that they be investigated for fraud. Several websites out there intentionally distorting company information and then when you click to “claim business” so you can correct it, all it does is redirect you to Yext. I hope the president and CEO end up in jail.”

It’s true that Yext does have 10 qualified five-star reviews on Yelp, but it has 30 one-star reviews (as of this writing)

Do you feel comfortable with a business where more than two-thirds of reviewers gave it the very lowest rating? We certainly don’t.

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