Everything You Need to Know About The Apple Maps Rebuild
In 2017, comScore reported there were about 85.8 million iPhones owners in the US. Of those 85.8 million users, only 23.3 million (11% of the navigation app market share) actively used the iPhone’s integrated map, Apple Maps. Apple Maps’ notorious low-quality map has been following behind Google’s footsteps for years. In an effort to compete with Google Maps’ whopping 154.4 million active users each month and 67% market share, Apple Maps is currently in the process of rebuilding. With this complete app overhaul, we’re expecting to see an improvement in both user-base and local listing features.
Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps
The Apple Maps Rebuild
Apple Maps is working on rebuilding with a large focus on improving the accuracy of the system. Announced on June 29, the rebuilding of Apple Maps will rely on anonymous user location data, user feedback, and a fleet of vans equipped with sensors to collect mapping data in an effort to improve the maps system. That’s right, Apple will be rebuilding its map from the ground up, instead of relying on a variety of third-party mapping services like TomTom, OpenStreetMap and others. Don’t worry, iPhone users do have the ability to opt-out of the anonymous data collecting.
Here are some of the improvements Apple Maps is working on:
- Better road networks
- Pedestrian information for walkable spaces
- Better representation of park and terrain areas
- Improvements to building shapes and sizes
- Front door guidance to businesses
- Improved search results
- Spotting road construction
- Accurate 3D renderings
- AR integration
- Visual redesign
Local Listings for Apple Maps
One update we’re hoping to see in the Apple Maps rebuild is in their local listing information. Apple currently relies on third-party services like Yelp and Foursquare for most of their listing information. It wasn’t until 2016, that Apple released Maps Connect to help businesses take control of their local listings on Apple Maps. Unfortunately, if you’re a multi-location business, bulk uploading/updating is not supported directly through Apple Maps unless you have over 1,000 locations. Instead, large enterprises and agencies would need to work with a listing management service like Chatmeter to bulk upload listing information to Apple Maps.
Unlike, Google My Business, the Apple Maps local listing information is minimal. The information a business can provide in Maps Connect is as follows:
- Business name
- Phone number (verified)
- Business Category
- Business location (Place the location marker closest to the entrance of your business to improve the quality of Apple Maps)
- Business Hours
- Social media and other relevant accounts
When it comes to local search the Apple Maps’ algorithm is not as sophisticated as Google and can sometimes lead to search errors. For example, I searched for “best sandwich near me” and the results took me to a restaurant named “Best Donut and Deli” 11 miles away. However, if I do a much simpler search for “grocery stores” it can accurately populate the closest stores nearby. Its ability to interpret unbranded search queries with modifiers (i.e. best, delicious, new) needs work, which is something that we’re hoping to see in the rebuild.
Apple Maps’ rankings have even stumped Local SEO Guide’s, Andrew Shotland, who could only find four “ranking factors”.
- Keyword in the business name
- Third-party meta data like Yelp and Foursquare
Let’s hope the rebuild helps to make improvements to how Apple Maps ranks searches.
It would also be nice to see improvements to Maps Connect by adding reviews, menus, product or service lists, about sections and more, without having to rely on third-party data. These updates have not yet been confirmed, but if Apple wants to compete with Google Maps it seems like the logical next step.
The Benefits of Apple Maps for Local Businesses
When it comes to local business listings, and even managing local business listings, Google definitely reigns supreme. However, Apple Maps has some unique features that can help make it more competitive after the rebuild. Apple’s integration with the Apple Watch, Siri and Yelp make it the perfect map for local search.
(Source: Tech Republic)
Apple sold more watches during the 2017 Holiday season than Rolex, Omega and Swatch combined. Apple’s wearable technology is perfect for on-the-go local search. The watch’s integration with Apple maps makes it easy for users to follow directions with vibrations before each turn (walking or driving). Because the watch does not use an app to deploy the map, Apple Maps is the number one wearable technology map provider at 21% of the market share.
Apple Maps and Siri
For the 85.8 million iPhone users in the nation, Siri is the go-to voice assistant. When it comes to mobile search, voice is 3x more likely to be used than text. This gives Apple Maps 3x the chances to be selected as the map of choice for local search directions on the iPhone, regardless of the user’s preferred map of choice.
We already discussed how Apple Maps only provides basic business information within the app. However, the integration with Yelp helps to supplement Maps Connect listings by contributing relevant business information to the Apple listing. Apple Maps uses Yelp to populate information like; reviews, photos, useful tips (reservations, kid-friendly, delivery), and pricing.
In order to be relevant in Apple Maps searches, make sure both your Apple Maps and Yelp listings are updated and accurate. Complete your Yelp profile to include as much information and photos as you can. Don’t forget to respond to your Yelp reviews in order to increase your search rankings, as well.
Apple has made it clear that their rebuild of Apple Maps is one of their top priorities. We’re hoping the trillion dollar business will be making improvements to its map that make it a serious competitor to Google. A test version of the map update will launch with the release of the iOS 12 update, the official release date will be announced tomorrow but is expected to be available September 18th.