A few months ago, Google introduced photos, videos, coupons, links and other flair that businesses can add to their Google search results for $25 a month, as part of the company’s effort to dominate the local advertising market.
The move threatens the bread and butter of locally-focused sites like Citysearch, which is owned by IAC—especially considering Google can prioritize its listings, called Places, ahead of Citysearch’s or Yelp’s.
Yext launched a similar feature today called Yext Tags, right now just a 50-character highlighted message that businesses can use to distinguish themselves in a list of search results. Businesses can control their tags from Yext, updating the message simultaneously across Yext’s partner sites.
Yext started out offering pay-per-call listings in its network of Web directories. Local businesses could sign up and have their listings show up on Yext.com as well as sites like Superpages.com. Then the company rolled out real-time reputation management to local businesses, a site that helps business owners monitor what people are saying about them online.
Now Yext wants to establish itself as a hub where business owners can control their listings across the Web from one place.
Yext has partnered with several of the leading listings sites on the Web, but not Google—leading to the impression that Yext represents an anti-Google alliance.
When asked if he was organizing an anti-Google coalition, CEO Howard Lerman demurred.
Yext would love to add Google’s Places pages to its network, he said.
“Our goal is to create a comprehensive tag for local businesses. Our thesis as a company is that local is going to be fragmented and the pace of fragmentation is accelerating,” he said, citing Groupon and Foursquare which have emerged as sources of information about local businesses.
He declined to say whether he is talking to Google. Maybe the ten ex-Googlers on Yext’s engineer-studded staff can help with negotiations.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries