What Happens When You Report a Problem To Apple Maps?

Apple Maps Report A Problem Screen
There have been some questions on the Apple support forum about how long it takes for a business listing update to make it to Apple Maps. While I don’t have any definitive information, here’s my speculation on how the process works when you “Report a Problem” with a business listing. If you have any insight or think I am wrong, please let me know in the comments:

According to my sources, Apple only updates its business listing index about once per month. And before an individual listing gets updated, it needs to get verified that the information is accurate. My understanding is that Apple doles the verification process out to various data vendors based on the category of the listing. So that means that the process is something like this:

1. Report a Problem submission
2. Add the submission to the batch of recent submissions and categorize update request
3. Send batch to outside vendor for verification
4. Vendor receives batch and queues it for verfication
5. Vendor verifies listing info and places into batch for submission to Apple
6. Vendor submits verfied batch to Apple
7. Apple matches up the verified data with data from other vendors (meaning sometimes the updated data gets over-written by another data vendor Apple trusts more)
8. Apple updates its listing index and (hopefully) the updated data gets pushed live

If I have come even close to accurately describing the process, as you can see before Apple pushes the update live, it could take several weeks just to make it through the verification system. And if a verified update is sent to Apple a minute after the latest index update, then it could take an additional 30 days for it to go live.

I am sure Apple is working on ways to speed up this process, but it’s likely a hugely complex system that is not easily updated.

Why Do Map Services Not Give a S%#! About Businesses?

Here Maps Logo

Perhaps I am being overly-dramatic.

I don’t need to catalog all the ways Google Maps/Places/+Local makes it hard for businesses to figure out how to work with it.  Spend a few hours over at Mike Blumenthal’s blog for more on that and you’re brain will likely explode.

This week’s launch (re-launch?) of Nokia’ HERE Maps is a prime example of a consistent trend where online mapping services, in the rush to create the greatest consumer mapping service ever, seem to treat businesses as second-class citizens/after-thoughts.

Earlier this week, I posted How To Add a Business To Nokia Maps (aka Here.net).  Typical ignorant American that I am, I had never used Nokia’s maps.  Then when they made their big, in-your-face-Apple/Google announcement, I had to check it out.  The first thing I noticed was that there was almost no effort to communicate to businesses how to work with the service.  In fact, the UI was so lacking in that regard, that in my initial draft of the post, I actually wasn’t sure how to add a business to Nokia Maps, err, I mean Here (HERE?).

Chris Sheehy of Sidewalk Branding was kind enough to save my credibility by pointing out to me that you could add a business to HERE via Nokia Prime Place.

Now go back to HERE and check out the home page, the navigation, the FAQ page, etc. and I defy you to find any information on what you can do if your business is not listed on the service, let alone any mention of Nokia Prime Place.

I get it.  Consumers come first and all that, but while Nokia’s HERE hoopla might get a lot of people checking it out for a second or two, who do you think is really going to spend time on the service in the first few weeks? My bet goes to marketers trying to make sure they are properly represented.

While they do provide a not-so-easy-to-find FAQ on what to do if the data for a business is incorrect, how hard would it have been to add a “For Businesses” section to the FAQ or the footer which mentioned that you could go to Nokia Prime Place?  And how many businesses will figure out that HERE and Nokia Prime Place are even related?  Nokia hasn’t even changed the Nokia Maps branding on the Prime Place home page.

Apple Maps is no better in this regard, hence the need for shameless blogs like this one.

And while we are on the snark, a word about the branding – too generic.  Let’s do a test.  Hey, let’s go to Jumbo’s Clown Room.  What’s the address?

a. Hold on, let me check Google Maps
b. Hold on, let me check Apple Maps
c. Hold on, let me check Here


How To Add a Business to Nokia Maps (aka Here.net)

We interrupt this Apple Maps blog to get you the skinny on Nokia’s newly announced Here maps service. While there is not a lot of available info on how businesses can work with Here (kind of like Apple Maps right?), I thought I’d cobble together any information I could find and list it here:

How To Claim Your Business on Here.net
Claim Your Business on Nokia Here.net
To claim your business on Here, search for it using the name and city. Since Here is a global service, it doesn’t seem to do well unless you add the city and state to the query. If your business comes up in the results, click on it and you’ll get a profile pop-up like the one above. Click on the “I own this place” link and you’ll be taken through a login process after which you choose either phone or postcard verification as shown below:
How To Claim a Business on Nokia Here.net

Phone verification is instantaneous. Postcard verification can take up to 2 to 6 weeks. Of course, if the phone number or address is incorrect, then you might have problems verifying you own the business. Which brings me to…

How To Report a Problem With Your Business Listings on Here.net
How To Report a Problem With A Business Listing on Nokia Here.net

Click on “Report This Place” link in the pop-up for the business as shown above and you’ll get a “Report this Place” screen below. Select “Other” and let them know that the data is wrong. Submit the correct info and wait. It will likely take them a while to update it, but that’s the breaks when it comes to maps, right?
Report This Place on Nokia Here.net


How To Add Your Business To Nokia Maps
Update August 2017 – Nokia Maps is no longerGo Nokia Prime Place and you can easily submit a new business and verify it via postcard.  I just submitted mine today. I’ll update this post when I receive the postcard.

If you try to add a business via Here, it’s a bit more confusing.  If you are outside the US, you can go into the “Map Creator” section, zoom in on a city and click on “Add a New Place” in the nav.  There are about 100+ countries that are currently supported including Palau and Equatorial Guinea.

At this point there is no clear way to add a U.S.-based business to Here.net if it’s not already listed. I am trying to figure out how they are getting their business listing data for each country. My best guess at the moment is this list of partners for Earthmine, the 3D mapping company Nokia has acquired. If anyone has any better info, please share in the comments.

Will update this as I figure Nokia maps out.

Fixing Bad Yelp Reviews on Apple Maps

A reader writes:

I own a small business and I am struggling with Yelp. We currently have 12 reviews from reviewers. 10 are positive, 2 are negative. We can easily identify 11 of these reviewers as being real clients of ours. However, Yelp has chosen to “filter” every single one of our positive reviews and none of the negative. When I contact Yelp, they just hide behind that blanket of the “filter software” or whatever. Now, when people use the Apple Maps app, they locate us and immediately beneath our name are the 2 negative Yelp reviews.  It is my opinion that Yelp is only showing the positive reviews of businesses who advertise with them. What can I do? Thoughts?

Negative Yelp reviews are a problem.  Negative Yelp reviews that also show up on Apple Maps make the problem worse as Apple shows the most recent Yelp reviews for your business on the profile screen:

Alberto's Cantina Pleasanton Yelp Review

So even if you are a five-star restaurant, three recent bad reviews can make you look bad on Apple Maps.  Normally I would tell a business that they just need to get some more positive reviews and that will push the bad ones out.  But in the case above where Yelp’s filters are hiding the good reviews, what can you do?  To help figure this out, I consulted Matt Siltala of Avalaunch Media.  Matt is probably one of the top Yelp marketing experts, so what he says, goes.  From Mat:

First she needs to make a page on her website that will drive people to review on Yelp.  Not just have Yelp, but have all main review sites (link directly to them on this page) and then direct her customers to that page to leave reviews – Don’t ask for them to go there and leave a “Yelp” review. … let them pick what place they want.  This way you will get the users of the right groups to leave reviews on the places they use and thus eliminate the chance of them getting filtered.  This will also help distribute the wealth.  I don’t give a rats ass what Yelp says about not doing this.  You are simply showing people where they can review you because you “love” reviews … it is up to the user to leave a review wehre they want.  Yelp is stupid and two faced about their “amazing” review filter and service.  They are gonna do whatever they can to extort the most money out of business owners via their paid programs options (talk about two-faced), so business owners NEED to do all they can to get legit reviews to show up.  This example you share is my point exactly of why this is needed – they need to seek out and find active Yelp users by guiding them.

In short, you need to figure out which customers of yours are active Yelpers.  Then you need to figure out how to get them to write something nice about you on Yelp.  Finding your customers on Yelp shouldn’t be too hard, particularly if you already are connected to them on Facebook.  You’ve got a Facebook strategy right?  You can then use Facebook Connect to connect with your friends/customers on Yelp.  Of course, you could also just search Yelp.

Solving these types of problems is rarely simple, but if those bad reviews are hurting your business, they need to be solved.  Some bedtime reading for you:

Yelp Review Filter Explained
Your Business & Yelp
How To SPAM Yelp 



Acxiom Business Listings Are On Apple Maps in Canada

UPDATED: I have received confirmation from people who would know that Acxiom data is in fact being supplied to Apple Maps for Canadian business listings.  I have updated the title of this post accordingly.  Hopefully they will inform their customer service people 🙂  Sorry for the confusion.  The post below should now be treated as mere entertainment.

Last week I published a list of the Apple Maps Business Listings Suppliers by Country.  I should have qualified that post as very much a work-in-progress.  I put together the list based on the data providers noted here and then researched which countries each vendor serves.  I have also reached out to each supplier to confirm my assumptions, but thus far none have gone on the record – some have refused while others have agreed to talk, but I have yet to follow up.  It’s likely that those I do speak with won’t say much anyhow.  Apple partners are justifiably tight-lipped about their relationships with Cupertino.

In the case of Acxiom, I suspected that they were supplying Canadian data as they do offer Canadian business listings and I had seen some speculation from some Canadian SEOs that Acxiom was being used there.  I asked Acxiom to confirm this, but they did not want to go on the record.  Of course, I could have just picked up the phone, called Acxiom customer service and asked like Dale Butterfield:

Blame Canada Acxiom

Note: This doesn’t necessarily mean that Acxiom is not being used in Apple Maps in Canada.  It may just mean they haven’t told their customer service department.

Why Isn’t My Business Showing Up On Apple Maps?

I have been looking into the case of the missing Didgeroo on Apple Maps.  Didgeroo, Ltd, a London SEO & Web Marketing shop, has done everything by the book (a still-mostly-unwritten-book of course) – they have a Yelp profile and they have submitted their business data to TomTom (about two weeks ago), but they still are not showing up in Apple Maps.  While I haven’t finished my investigation, there are two potential issues that seem like good candidates for Didgeroo’s snafu:

1. Address Issues
When you search for their address in Apple Maps (86-90 Paul Street London England) you get a marker that says only “Paul Street”:
Apple Maps No Street Number

But when you change the query to another address on Paul Street like “10 Paul Street London England”, you get the street number:

Apple Maps With Street Number

This makes me think that Apple Maps either has a problem with complicated address numbers like 86-90 or, more likely, it does not have this address in its dataset.  Which brings me to my second thought on TomTom Places:

2. TomTom is Overloaded With New/Updated Business Listings
As far as I can tell TomTom is the primary business listings data provider for Apple Maps for a large number of countries.  When you submit your business info to TomTom Places, before they ship it over to Apple Maps, or anywhere else, they probably have to go through a verification process which means they need to prove that the data you have submitted is correct.  Since there is an overwhelming amount of incorrect data and an equally overwhelming amount of attention being given to Apple Maps, I’ve got to believe that in the past few weeks, TomTom has received millions of new submissions/updates.  I don’t care how many people you have in the Philippines doing your grunt work, it’s going to take more than two weeks to get through a lot of these verifications.  When I think about what they must be going through, it kind of reminds me of this:

There may even be a third issue related to the underlying geo-data about the address that could be harder to solve than putting Lucy and Ethel on the line…

There are some other potential issues mentioned in my discussion with Didgeroo’s Chris Skitch here. If anyone has any other thoughts on this problem, please add to the comments. I am sure Didgeroo would appreciate it.

Apple Maps Business Listings Data Suppliers By Country

Note: This list was last updated on 9.26.16 and is very much a work-in-progress.

I have noticed a lot of confusion about how to add listings to Apple Maps for different countries. While you can do so via the “Report a Problem” screen on Apple Maps, all businesses should also make sure their data is up to date on the relevant data supplier for their country. Failing to do this could mean that your business info gets overwritten when Apple gets a new update from a supplier whose data it trusts more than the data you have submitted.

I have put together this list of data vendors by country to help make it easier to figure out where to go to update your data:

Business Listings Supplier Country
Axciom Global
Apontador Brazil
Booking.com Global
DAC Group United States
Das Örtliche Germany
Factual Global
Foursquare Global
GasBuddy Canada & United States
GreatSchools United States
Herold.at Austria
iPeen Taiwan
LinkMercado S. A. (TeleListas.net) Brazil
Neustar Localeze United States
Location3 United States
Mobilsoft SPRL Global
MomentFeed United States
NavAds BV Netherlands
PagesJaune S.A. France
Parkopedia United States
PositionTech United States
Rio SEO United States
SIM Partners United States
Swisscom Directories Switzerland
Tabelog China
TripAdvisor Global
Where 2 Get It (Brandify) United States
Yellow Pages Group Corp Canada
Yellow Pages Turkey Turkey
Yelp Global
Yext United States & Europe
KingWay Technology China
Fonecta.Fi Finland
Quandoo Europe & Asia
DTG BV Netherlands

This list is based on information found in the Apple Maps Acknowledgments page.  I’ll keep this list updated as I get new information.  Feel free to ping me if you have any.

How To Add Your Business To TomTom

TomTom MapShare Reporter

Tom Tom, the in-car navigation service, is a data provider to Apple Maps.  While it’s unclear how much business listing data Tom Tom is providing, my sources tell me they suspect that Tom Tom is supplementing listing data provided by other sources in the following countries:

United Kingdom

While in many cases, TomTom appears to source its business listing data from third parties, it also provides the ability for businesses in the above countries (except for Canada and Russia) to add their listings to the TomTom database or update an existing listing.  To do this go to Tom Tom Places and search for your company.  If it’s not in TomTom’s database, then you can add it by entering your information here.  Be sure to categorize your listing correctly when prompted.

If your business is displaying the wrong location on Apple Maps in one of the TomTom countries, you can try to correct the situation in TomTom’s database by using TomTom’s Mapshare Reporter.  Mapshare Reporter allows you to enter an address and then file a report about what you think is wrong with the address.  Warning: It does not appear to work with Chrome browsers.

At this point, it’s unclear how quickly TomTom updates its data, and how quickly TomTom updates make it into Apple Maps.  Stay tuned…