Last time I checked in on this topic we agreed that Apple Maps has a long way to go. If there's now a benefit to adding more to an Apple Maps listing then maybe it's worth putting energy into it. Last time I checked Apple was not a search engine so there's no ranking benefit.
I was recently asked this question by Jeffrey Magner of Bighorn Local SEO in Portland.
Apple Maps is still not a search engine but it has suddenly become a lot more interesting from a marketing perspective. Minimally, a business or agency working on its behalf should claim the business listing and track the metrics. There may be cause for even more engagement.
Apple Maps is used by a lot of people in the US. While it has primarily been a navigational tool, Apple seems to be turning the product into a discovery platform. These newest updates are part of that on-going project. (See Apple Maps: The Road to Discovery Part 1 & Part 2 to position this new development in the bigger Apple picture.)
In fact Apple is positioning Place Cards as relevant to not just Maps but Siri, Messaging, Apple Pay and more. Given Business Connect's requirement for high resolution images, I would anticipate a role for it in Apple's augmented reality universe as well.
Apple Maps was ignored by SEOs
Most SEOs didn’t pay any attention to Apple Maps before because:
- There was no "Insights" and no ability add tracking URLs
- Thus there no way to track or measure success
- If a business had optimized Yelp or TripAdvisor, the Place Card at Apple was auto populated, so why bother with more
- Apple didn't support service area businesses
Apple still doesn't (and probably won't) support SABs. Apple is offering a Map and not a search engine.
However, now that Business Connect offers Insights and appears to allow the use of tracking URLs, you can now track use cases and successes. Apple seems to be preparing for the day when they rely on Yelp and TripAdvisor less, by collecting native reviews and hi-res location imagery.
What you can now learn
Every business with a physical presence should claim its listing to get the Insights and put in a campaign URL. It is minimally worth understanding a business’s traffic from Apple Maps to make a decision about whether you should put more effort into the platform.
With the launch of Business Connect, you should now be able to ask and answer:
- How much total traffic is generated by Apple Maps?
- How much is navigational and how much is discovery?
- Where does this traffic originate?
- What kind of conversions (calls, web visits) does it generate?
- What is the value of the conversions?
David Mihm recently posted this on Twitter:
Early returns from Apple Business Connect Insights for 2 high-profile healthcare locations:— David Mihm (@davidmihm) January 12, 2023
- ~5-10% of the overall visibility of GBP (Views)
- 2-8% of the number of Website clicks
- 10-20% the number of phone calls
- 30-60% of the number of Directions requests (!)
Categories likely to benefit
I had expected to see decent conversions in hotels and restaurants but I didn't anticipate this volume in the health-care space. For many local businesses, this sort of performance is going to outpace both Facebook and Yelp in terms of delivering new business.
So what should a an agency or business do once they have verified their Apple Place Card?
If there is appreciable traffic, regardless of whether it is navigational or discovery in nature, businesses should also monitor their brand on Apple:
- Are the reviews good?
- How do they compare to competitors?
- Do the photos properly convey the correct image?
- Is the pin located accurately on the Map (Apple is a stickler for the pin being at the entrance)
If there is appreciable discovery, you should also focus on SEO. This is largely about making sure that you have a complete listing with multiple categories, have great photos and are making progress with your reviews whether they are Apple-native or third-party based. It should also include testing whether Showcases, the Google Post equivalent, is providing conversions.
The results will be category and demographicly dependent. Hotels, spas and restaurants are more likely to have success on the discovery side. Businesses that cater to a more affluent crowd or teenagers (where iPhone penetration is very high) also will likely benefit.
But these theories need to be tested. Who knows which businesses are benefitting from Apple Maps?
We can finally uncover critical metrics and make an informed decision about how much energy to put towards the Apple Maps environment.