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Yext brings more answers to its site search by processing unstructured data

Anthony Ha
·2-min read

Yext Answers allows businesses to provide a better search experience on their own websites — but as the name implies, the goal is really to make sure consumers get the answers they're looking for.

"If we deliver a link [in response to a search query], we consider it a failure on our side," Chief Strategy Officer Marc Ferrentino told me.

Ferrentino said the company will be able to do an even better job of that starting on March 17, with the launch of the "Orion" update to its search algorithm.

Yext will then be able to pull answers directly from unstructured pages on a business' website. The key, he said, is that Yext can "extract structured information" from an unstructured document — whether that's a webpage, a blog post or a help document — rather than just searching for keywords. So instead of simply presenting a link or a "blob of text," it will offer a "rich snippet" that actually answers your question.

Yext Answers
Yext Answers

Image Credits: Yext

There's a good chance that you're familiar with something similar from Google's consumer search experience, where the results often include a widget with questions and answers. Ferrentino welcomed the comparison, saying this will allow Yext customers to close the "experience gap" between Google's search experience and their own.

To demonstrate the technology, Ferrentino showed me how Yext Answers could crawl pages about presidential history and then return the correct answer when asked, "Who was the only U.S. president to be impeached twice?"

Or for a more commercial (albeit slightly meta) example, he showed me how it could answer questions about Yext's technology. As another example, Yext says it could search a bank's website to answer a question about the difference between a 401(k) and Roth IRA.

Also worth noting: This change won't just improve things for businesses and their customers, but also Yext's nonprofit clients, including the World Health Organization, which is using Yext to provide pandemic-related answers online.