- A massive Apple Maps update has now rolled out across the U.S., with the exception of U.S. territories and Puerto Rico.
- Apple Maps has transitioned from licensing TomTom data to using its own framework for U.S. navigation data.
- Apple Maps is now used by “hundreds of millions” of people in over 200 countries, according to the company.
- Enterprise brands can customize and optimize their local listings in Apple Maps via Rio SEO’s partnership with Yelp.
Recent updates to Apple Maps and differences in the way Apple and Google curate location data have enterprise marketers wondering how to make the most of the channel.
January’s update brought faster navigation, more detailed roads and landmarks, and real-time transit updates to a wider swath of Apple Maps users. It also gives users access to Look Around, a 3D street-level view many will recognize from Google Maps.
While it was the user benefits that dominated tech industry news, the most substantial changes are in the way the company handles location data. Enterprise marketers may be interested to learn that Apple Maps has transitioned from licensing data from TomTom and other navigational companies to using its own framework.
Now that you’re aware of these updates, what does this mean for enterprise brands and how can you make sure your location data is accurate in Apple Maps—and across the local search ecosystem?
1. Claim and optimize your Apple Maps listings.
This is no small feat for multi-location brands, especially if Apple Maps hasn’t been a part of your local strategy to this point. Apple gathers data from a variety of sources (more on that in a minute) and even if you didn’t create them, you may find that there are already listings for many or all of your locations.
It’s not uncommon that there are mistakes in the store hours, map pins, and other key information searchers use to find your locations when listings haven’t been proactively managed.
If you haven’t been monitoring Apple Maps listings—or were claiming them manually, either at the corporate or the local level—you can save time and manual labor with local listings software built for multi-location brands. Enterprise listings software also enables you to push bulk changes, provide a dynamic locator for customers, and monitor hundreds or even thousands of locations for duplicates, errors, and other local data issues.
Check out this on-demand webinar and the associated Q&A for more on local listings management for enterprise brands.
2. Understand where Apple’s data is coming from.
Media have widely reported that Apple is collecting its first-party mapping data using cameras, sensors, and anonymized data from iPhones. “We have outfitted literally hundreds of planes and cars with custom sensors and lidar and driven over 4 million miles to rebuild our map from the ground up,” Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, announced at the company’s annual developers’ conference last summer.
Businesses can claim listings and manage individual locations via Apple Connect. Store hours and NAP data (name, address, phone number) can be updated, managed, and monitored in bulk using local listings software. For enterprise brands, it is important to understand where else location data may be coming from.
On Google, photos and local reviews are integrated features of Google My Business. But on Apple Maps in the U.S., Yelp Images and Reviews are pulled in for all listing types except in industries with specialized sites, such as TripAdvisor for hotels and OpenTable for restaurants.
(Note: Apple is still reliant upon third-party maps data outside of the U.S., although the company promises to bring the redesigned Maps experience to Europe in the coming months.)
That means that even if you are using enterprise local listings software, you have the opportunity to make your Apple Maps listings more compelling and engaging via these third-party sites. Here’s how.
3. Take advantage of optimizations in Yelp that populate to Apple Maps.
Ryan Weber, our Director of Client Success here at Rio SEO, explains the key elements in Yelp that impact enterprise local listings:
Yelp Review Score and Number of Reviews
Both the average star rating and the number of reviews on Yelp are featured prominently below the business name and category and above any photos. Download The Guide to Managing Local Reviews at Scale now to learn more about optimizing your local reviews profiles at scale.
As you can also see from the above screen capture, Yelp Photos are a great opportunity to showcase engaging visual content in your Apple Maps listing. As you’re planning content for Yelp, think too of its appearance on Apple and how you can use this space strategically. Could you promote upcoming events? Highlight specific products? Share the in-store experience with searchers? You can get creative here—the important piece is that you’re aware of this placement.
Yelp Review Excerpts
Each of your listings contains excerpts of three of that location’s Yelp reviews, as chosen by Apple Maps.
There are two calls-to-action for searchers to click through from Apple Maps to read more reviews on Yelp. Now, we know that soliciting reviews on Yelp is a no-no and violates the platform’s terms of service. However, brands do need a comprehensive strategy for removing barriers to leaving reviews, social listening and activating reviews insights, triaging and responding to reviews, and measuring their impact. You can learn more about that here.
Optimizing Apple Maps at Scale: The Power of Technology + Partner Expertise for the Win
Ensuring that your locations’ data is accurate and optimized everywhere that it appears across the local search ecosystem is a daunting task for multi-location brands, but it’s well worth getting right. It is possible to meet your prospective customers in every market with compelling, engaging content designed to move them seamlessly from search to a phone call, request for driving directions, or in your front door.
As a Yelp partner, our team at Rio SEO can help shape and implement a local search strategy that accounts for these lesser-known opportunities. With this partnership, we help enterprise brands customize and upload content to Yelp that not only strengthens their position on that platform but feeds into Apple Maps, as well. Take advantage of a local search audit and see what other hidden opportunities we can help uncover for you.