If you haven’t already heard, Apple unveiled their plans for “Apple Maps” last Monday at their Worldwide Developers Conference. They are entering the big arena of Local Search here, in which they are trying to compete with Google as the main map provider for Apple products. That’s a tall order and it definitely isn’t going to be an easy win!!
Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) recently launched as well, already having 80 million local business listings and years of experience and input about what works with local search and how to (supposedly) give people the results they want. Apple claims to be starting Apple Maps out with 100 million listings.
In Mike Dobson’s blog, he says he thinks “Apple decided to produce a mapping/routing/local search service on the basis of branding, not on the basis of this being an area in which the company possesses, or could ever hope to wield, a significant competitive advantage.”
This could be true. Maybe Apple doesn’t know what they are getting into. On the other hand, maybe Apple Maps will blow everyone out of the water! One way to judge the quality of data being served is the data sources. Here is a list of what seems to be the providers for Apple’s Maps data, according to Greg Sterling:
- MapData Sciences Pty Ltd.
- MDA Information Systems, Inc
- Urban Mapping
It seems that data and ratings for listings will come from a special blend of Acxiom, Localeze, and Yelp, all on top of a Tomtom-based map.
This brings even more to the local optimization table. Not too worry though – as long as you have been following best practices, you should still be ok. The basics for tackling Apple Local optimization for now are the same for all local optimization:
- Make sure your business is correctly listed with the primary data providers: Localeze, Acxiom, and InfoUSA.
- All of these listings need to be 100% consistent with NAP – your Name, Address, and Phone number.
- Stay on top of your Yelp listing. Make sure it has the exact same data as the providers above. Monitor reviews and get as many high ratings as you can! As of now, when someone asks Siri for a recommendation, rankings seem to be heavily weighted based on number of reviews.
- You’ll need to make sure your business address shows up correctly across TomTom and TeleAtlas maps so that people can actually find your business once they select it.
That’s it for now! As long as you have been able to effectively manage the current local search ecosystem and you have a decent number of positive reviews on Yelp, you will be starting out on the right foot with Apple Search. They seem to be pulling data from many of the same providers for the current search ecosystem. Unfortunately, although Apple has a history of great product design, this has nothing to do with data management. Only time will tell if Apple’s local index delivers more relevant results, rather than just more, than Google.
As always, let us know what you think! We’ll be monitoring this issue so check back for updates as it is inevitable that Apple will have to do some adjusting to find a comfortable algorithm once they roll out these new features, and the game may change quite a bit.