Unafﬁliated with Apple, Inc.
Apple now appears to be publishing multi-location business listings taken directly from the businesses. Case in point, several electronic vehicle charging station chains have popped up on Apple Maps with a “provided by” notice on their profiles. As you can see from the screenshots in this post, Apple Maps is publishing business listing data from the following companies:
I also have found listings for another EV Charger network, SemaConnect, but those profiles use “More info on…” language v. “Provided by” and even though they are categorized as EV Chargers but they don’t show up for me when I search “ev chargers” or even “ev chargers Fremont” or any other city they are located in.
They only appeared when I searched for a specific street they were on such as “ev chargers hacienda dr” (a street in Pleasanton, CA) that has three ChargePoint stations and one SemaConnect station. But even then, the SemaConnect station shows up at the bottom of the list. It seems like the other companies have some kind of prioritization over SemaConnect. My speculation is that these “Provided by” businesses have the greatest amount of authority in Apple Maps’ algorithms.
Many people are saying that EV charging stations showing up on Apple Maps so soon before a new Apple event is a sign that there may be some news at the event about the rumored Apple Car. I am saying that this is even more interesting – at least from a Local Search geek’s POV – in that it’s a sign that Apple is now publishing listings it gets directly from multi-location businesses and treating them as the source of truth v. say a Yelp profile. This is most likely because EV stations are a relatively new type of business and the listings are not available in a lot of traditional databases – hard to believe, but none of these stations are listed on Yelp yet. We are now seeing other non-traditional businesses with similar “Provided by” messages like parking lots provided by Parkopedia:
Since the launch of Maps Connect, Apple has been accepting listings feeds from large multi-location businesses, but this is the first incidence I can recall where it is publishing those listings as the source of truth with branding.
It’s possible this is but the first step in a model where trusted businesses have much more control over their Apple Maps listings than say its Google-cough-My-cough-Business Listings…
h/t to AMM super fan Michael G!
On a related note: AppleMaps per the Tesla Motors Club also lists Tesla Superchargers which are categorized appropriately enough as “Tesla Supercharger”. I believe these come from either Factual’s database or else they are how Tesla submitted their listings via Apple Maps Connect. But if they came via MapsConnect, it seems odd though that Apple did not categorize these as “ev chargers”.
It’s been a while since we have seen any updates to Apple Maps data suppliers. Today I discovered an updated Apple Maps Acknowledgments page which now lists Parkopedia, a database of parking lots and garages – “The Wikipedia for parking” according to their site.
Apple Maps has updated its Acknowledgements Page as of 10/22/15 to include Foursquare as a supplier of business listings data. About two years ago there had been some confusion about whether or not Foursquare was in cahoots with Apple Maps. Nice to see this finally confirmed. I have not seen an example of Foursquare data on an Apple Maps listing but I imagine it looks just like the Yelp integration.
This is pretty great news for Foursquare. Everything I have heard from other Apple Maps data suppliers is that the traffic to these listings has been accelerating at a rapid clip – Apple apparently provides data providers traffic data on their listings – so this provides Foursquare with a great reason for businesses to engage with them.
I just noticed that businesses can now add their Apple Pay info to their MapsConnect profiles. It appears this functionality was added in early September. If you accept Apple Pay, you should definitely update your listing. When you do this, your business’ Apple Maps profile starts displaying the Apple Pay icon. I imagine at some point this icon will become more prominent and there will be opportunities to filter queries by “Accepts Apple Pay”.
Apple Maps Business Profile with Apple Pay icon
Apple MapsConnect Business Profile with Accepts Apple Pay Option
Here’s my presentation from SMXEast 2015 on initial SEO tactics for showing up in Apple’s new search algorithm:
There’s a new Apple Maps Acknowledgements page and with that there are some new data providers that we now know about:
Herold.at: An Austrian yellow pages/local marketing service co.
Rio SEO: A U.S.-based local listings management & local marketing tech co.
Where2GetIt/Brandify: A U.S.-based local listings management & local marketing tech co.
There are also 4 new transit data providers.
According to the latest Apple Maps acknowledgements page, last updated on 8/10/15, Tablelog.com, a Japanese restaurant guide, is now a business listings data supplier to Apple Maps. As you can see below, the implementation is identical to Yelp’s:
As best I can tell Tabelog content trumps Yelp and TripAdvisor when it has a review for a business. Yelp appears to have a fairly limited set of Japanese reviews so it makes sense that Apple would add focused regional content partners. I expect by this time next year Apple will have added content partners like this in every major country and service category.
I have been testing Apple Maps in iOS 9 for a white paper I wrote for Yext – Optimizing Local Search for iOS 9 (registration req’d) – and really like where it’s heading. For those of you not brave enough to install the iOS 9 beta on your phone I thought I’d provide some initial looks at the new interface:
Apple Maps Category Search
When you start to enter a query in AM’s search bar, it immediately shows you a list of preset categories: Food, Drinks, Shopping, Fun, Transport, Travel, Services and Health. These are likely the most popular query types. Clicking an icon takes the user to a set of relevant subcategories (see next screenshot). I imagine these could change based on user behavior.
Below the category icons you get a list of favorited locations followed by your most recent searches.
Apple Maps SubCategory Search
Similar to the previous screen except now you get related subcategories and a list of results for the selected parent category. It’s interesting that the “List View” is now the default view (v. the Map View in the current app). This is a lot friendlier than the Map View and starts to look like, I don’t know, local search results?
Apple Maps Map Results View
When you click on a subcategory icon you get a combined Map/List View. Again this is in many ways friendlier than the current default Map View. To see the List View in the current UI you need to click a “List Results” link at the bottom of the page. Certainly owning one of the top 4 slots for these subcategories is going to be desireable.
Apple Maps Business Profile (Above fold)
The business profile remains largely unchanged. The direction links have become more prominent – changing from text links to icons and moving to the top of the page from the middle. This is likely because Apple now has transit info and is an acknowledgement of how common the get directions use case is.
Apple Maps Business Profile (Below fold)
Some minor changes here – the headings of the Photos and Reviews sections have changed from “Photos from Yelp” and “Reviews from Yelp” to just “Photos” and “Reviews”. There is now a smaller “Open Yelp” text link at the top right of each section. Is this an indication that Yelp will eventually not be the only source of data or is it just a way to make it clearer that a click will launch Yelp? In the current app, it’s definitely not clear that clicking on these launches Yelp.
Apple Maps Directions Overview
Now with transit directions!!!!
iOS Spotlight Search Home Screen
When you slide the phone’s home screen to the right, you get the Spotlight Search Home Screen. It displays a row recently used apps then a row of “Nearby” icons. So right off the bat, Apple is telling us that local search is a major user behavior for Spotlight. The icons change based on the time of day. For example, this morning the icons were Breakfast & Brunch, Cafes, Bakeries and Gas Stations. Now, in the middle of the day, they are Restaurants, Fast Food, Coffee & Tea and Gas Stations. It’s unclear if these are selected based on the density of business types near me, user behavior or if they are just standard for everyone. Below these results, you get the latest stories from the new Apple News app. A lot easier than firing up Google News no?
iOS Spotlight Search Results (Above fold)
These results are of course dependent on the query, but here we see a typical local query, “bars”. iOS offers these results:
Recommended Apps: I don’t have many apps installed on my test device but it likely would show apps I have/use first. See the white paper for more on how app indexing and user activity can help you rank in these types of results.
Maps Results: Three profiles linked to Apple Maps
Suggested Websites: This is likely a combo of data indexed from Apps and Applebot’s crawl. According to Apple this content will be ranked based on “user engagement”.
Bing Search Results: aka backfill
iOS Spotlight Search Results (Below fold)
I’ll be publishing more info about the new iOS local search capabilities as I uncover them.