Unafﬁliated with Apple, Inc.
There’s not much published on the Web about how to rank well in Apple Maps. While the nature of a mobile map result makes “ranking” sort of an ephemeral thing – the order & radius of results will vary depending on the searcher’s physical location – there are a factors that seem to most positively correlate with showing up prominently in Apple Maps:
• Category relevance to query
• Keyword in business name
• Proximity to searches’ centroid (user’s and/or city’s)
• Yelp & Other Providers’ Meta Data – It’s very unclear how important reviews are for rankings, but they likely affect CTR. Meta data like Price rating, hours, etc are important.
Of these perhaps the most confounding is “Category relevance to query”. This is because Apple Maps does not appear to do a lot of keyword-to-category mapping. For example, here’s a shot of an Apple Maps desktop result for “hot dog”:
But look what happens when I change the query to “best hot dog”:
Apple Maps knows “hot dog” is a restaurant category and brings up a set of hot dog restaurants for the query. It doesn’t understand that “best” is a modifier of “hot dog” so instead it treats it like a business name search and it looks for businesses that have “best” in their names and are in a category related to hot dogs. In this case the two businesses listed are both in the “Sandwiches” category.
Some modifiers appear to be driven by Yelp’s meta data. For example, this query for “cheap hot dogs” brings on $ and $$ (pricing data from Yelp) businesses in the Hot Dogs category:
But what happens when Apple Maps doesn’t have a mapping of the query modifier to a category. Check out this result for “delicious hot dog”:
In this case, Apple Maps decided that “delicious hot dog” was a geo-query so it sent me to Calle Delicias in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. I’m not sure why. “Delicias” is close to “delicious”, and “Mayaguez” is kind of close to “merguez” which is a type of sausage so…
The moral of the story: Stop stressing that you don’t rank for various keywords in Apple Maps. Neither does anyone else.
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.