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In our last blog post for Local Search Insider, we shared creative ways to win the holiday shopping season with top rankings in paid, organic and maps listings. The accuracy and rankings of map listings are critical to connect and convert consumers with immediate needs, as they search for information from within the proximity of a business.

Now that Apple has launched their Maps Connect self-serve local listings portal, the need to focus on maps is greater than ever. Local search is infiltrating not only search itself, but online directories that will power the Internet of Things, opening the door for businesses to submit their own information to Apple rather than relying on third-party sites.

Google Local Carousel Update: On November 13th Search Engine Land featured the removal of the Google Carousel for specific verticals like restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and hotels. This a huge development as Google is redefining their layout for local based searches (from carousel to a 3-pack), so it’s key that brands effected by the update continue to submit accurate local business listings to the search engines.

Google Maps vs. Apple Maps – Optimize Both for Best Results

When we think of map listings for local search, we most often think of Google Maps, which lists business name, physical address, phone number, store hours and more. However, focusing on Google alone is a missed opportunity and can be detrimental to success in the local and mobile search space.

Apple Maps admittedly got off on the wrong foot by releasing before it was ready and offering a less than stellar user experience. It was so awful that it wasn’t long before Apple had to let Google Maps back into their app store.  In short, if Apple Maps wasn’t on your local search radar until now, we don’t blame you.

Fast forward to today: Apple Maps is the default app for iOS devices and there has been a fundamental change in the way Apple handles business data for Maps. Instead of aggregating business listings from third-party sources, Apple is now allowing businesses to communicate accurate business information directly to them. As Covario noted in their Apple Maps coverage, some larger businesses are being prompted to sign up for iBeacon while they’re activating their Apple Maps Connect accounts.

Apple Maps’ Controls & New Google Maps Features

Whether creating a new listing or editing an existing one, business owners now have control over a number of important business listings points:

  • Business name, phone number and physical address (NAP)
  • Business location on the map
  • Business category (up to 3)
  • Hours of operation
  • Website and Yelp URLs; Facebook and Twitter accounts

Users must sign in with an Apple ID and verify their business phone number before creating or editing a listing. It may take up to a week for a new listing or edit to appear and Apple is employing other anti-fraud measures to ensure only authorized users are updating business listings.

Just ahead of Apple’s Maps Connect news, Google added new features to their Maps offering. Now, mobile users can better plan their trips with instant access to images, reviews and ratings for businesses in a particular location. Google Maps also added OpenTable and Uber integration, enabling mobile searchers to find and book a table at a restaurant, or price and book a taxi, right from the Maps interface.

Apple and Google are in hot competition to provide the best mobile search experience for on-the-go consumers. It’s a fantastic thing for local businesses, which have greater control than ever over how their business appears across various search engines and local directories.

Now that Apple has a viable maps product, businesses can’t ignore the potential to get in front of the millions of mobile consumers using it. LSA’s Greg Sterling at wrote a fantastic guide for new users, with step-by-step instructions on creating or updating an Apple Maps Connect listing for your business.

Ready to get started? Head over to Apple Maps Connect with your business ID.

Author: Tyler Ludwig, Local Product Manager, Rio SEO

Originally posted at Localsearchinsider.org