If you want to know something about a company, you just have to type the desired information into Google – in the best case even simply into the browser’s search bar, which is linked to Google or, less often, to another search engine alternative. The search result will have already been prepared thanks to the Knowledge Graph and the industry entries called My Business. Whether opening hours, business data, explanation of important products or brands, or even map excerpts with directions to the company – the search engine giant has prepared all this in recent years in such an appealing and customer-friendly way that searchers ideally don’t even have to leave Google’s search results page. Search engine operators thus gain even more power, whereas companies often lack the clicks and opportunities to present themselves if customers no longer visit their own pages.
How Google is taking over the customer journey
Google is just one of the places where users can search for relevant information about companies and branch locations – albeit by far the most important. But how can companies ensure their information is updated in all relevant locations? What is at stake is nothing less than the reputation of companies, the opportunity to present themselves and guide the customer through the customer journey.
Howard Lerman, CEO of New York-based technology provider Yext, summed up the challenge for companies at DMEXCO 2019 as follows:
Google has become the home page for a multitude of things – and now determines the customer journey. When people enter their names in a search, companies no longer have sovereignty over the results list and, in the worst case, competitors even appear at the top of the list with an SEA ad.
How companies can regain sovereignty over their own data
Yext Answers has set itself the goal of processing data in the form of a local search – and does this much more elegantly than many other solutions on the market. With the help of AI and Machine Learning, information is clearly presented and the system learns over time what is important to the users of the brand and what they are looking for. On the one hand, this functions as a classic onsite solution on the company’s website, but also in hundreds of other directories.
Preparing company information for the knowledge graph
In addition to the New York-based company, which is currently one of the largest in the comparatively young market segment of location marketing and serves Marriott Hotels, Sixt and T-Mobile as customers, there are also alternatives. The German challenger Uberall from Berlin supports companies such as Deutsche Post and Vodafone with its Location Marketing Cloud to centrally manage and control the publication of detailed information in all locations. This serves to ensure that the correct information is correctly listed in all search engines with knowledge-graph-like applications, map services and directories.
Matching answers for various search queries
The tasks facing companies in the future are manifold: they have to predict the different intentions and search interests of customers or prospective customers and then offer optimally structured content that can then be prepared in various forms for different knowledge graphs. In addition to conventional keyword research, companies can evaluate customer ratings and inquiries.
The goal must always be not only to increase online findability, but also to strengthen one’s online reputation. This all costs money, but can also save money: “Providing data in an optimum form boosts organic traffic,” explains Marc Kriegs, Senior Sales Engineer Central Europe at Yext – which in turn saves SEA budgets and other online marketing spending. The ultimate goal consists of providing users with the appropriate answers quickly and directly on the company’s own website without requiring a detour via a search engine.
The bottom line: location marketing still has a lot of room for improvement
Ultimately, smart databases in location marketing that increase and optimize company visibility consist of more than just reallocating budgets from advertising networks like Google to the new service providers. The aim is to increase turnover and reputation, but also to provide customers with optimally prepared detailed information on their own website as well as on the websites of third-party providers. Companies like Yext, Uberall and Omnea still have a lot of upward potential because they can provide for even more efficiency with a large number of customers.