Long a valuable and useful navigation and search assistant, with an update rolling out just last week we now see Google Maps as a commute assistant.
Well, for Android users, anyway. Google says the update will roll out to iOS and other systems’ users soon. Android users will have, no doubt, noticed the relatively small but significant change in Google Maps layout over the past week.
Just swipe up and you’ll see three tabs that will help you find a nearby restaurant, beat traffic, or catch the next bus,” wrote Google Maps Product Manager Marcus Lowe. “Under the places tab, you’ll see curated lists of places to eat and drink like ‘best dinners,’ ‘cheap eats’ or ‘business dining,’ around you or in any location you choose.
“In one tap you can also search for other everyday spots like ATMs, pharmacies, gas stations and grocery stores. Peek at images of the area or read a short description of the neighborhood to get the lay of the land.”
Google has been slowly and steadily adding more real time features into Google Maps since it bought Waze in 2013. The enhances continue to make Google Maps a valuable apps for consumers and digital marketeers as well. Sure, Maps is a very efficient navigation tool but it’s also an extremely valuable search engine for digital marketeers.
Last week’s additions benefit both kinds of users.
“Under the driving tab, if you have your home and work addresses saved, you’ll see real-time ETAs to home and work, as well as a nearby traffic conditions report and expected delays on the road ahead,” Lowe posted. “If you don’t need turn-by-turn directions but want real-time traffic info as you take your usual route, you can tap on ‘start driving’ to go directly into driving mode.
“With the transit tab, you’ll never have to sprint to the bus again. If you have your home and work addresses saved, you’ll see a recommendation for which bus or train to take, when the next one’s coming, and an ETA for when you’ll arrive at work or home. If you’re headed somewhere else, you can swipe down to find nearby transit stations along with real-time schedules.”
What? You’re not using Google Maps for your business or organization?
Whoa. You are missing a precise azimuth for your online marketing efforts.
Yea, sure, Google Maps is one of the most popular apps in the world and, sure, we’ve come to pretty much rely on it for navigation. It’s pretty darn handy.
Google Maps as search engine
You use the app all the time often without even realizing or thinking about it but digital marketeers also need to think of Google Maps as search engine.
Digital marketeers shouldn’t neglect the opportunity Google Maps offers to guide customers directly to a place of business or a nonprofit organization which is dependent, one way or the other, on its location serving its overall mission.
Think of the many ways, as a consumer, you use Google Maps. Into your smartphone you ask, “where is the nearest coffee shop?”
What comes back in the search results? Yep, sure, a listing. But also a map, Google Map, from which you can also, then, pick a spot and navigate to it with step-by-step directions.
As a business owner-marketeer, you need to think of how you use search in that way and adapt your business or organization’s online map presence to match, respond to those search queries.
And, no, we don’t usually think of Google Maps as part of the digital marketing effort but Google Maps is also a huge search engine, connected of course to the biggest search engine in the world. If the location of your business or organization is important to your success, you can’t really afford to ignore Google Maps. You need to be there.
Changes in Google Map search terms
Google made Maps more responsive to voice queries just about a year ago which vastly improved the app’s usefulness.
“Requests using the types parameter and those specifying multiple types (for example, types=hospital|pharmacy|doctor) will continue to return results until Feb 16, 2017, but we do not recommend using multiple types in a search request,” says Google. “After that date, requests with multiple types will no longer be supported. To ensure the best possible search results for your users, we recommend using a single type in search requests.
“In addition, we are amending the list of supported types. The types establishment, food, health, general_contractor, finance and place_of_worship, will not be available as searchable types from Feb 16, 2017. However these types will still be returned in search and details results.”
Google provides a complete list and table of search terms for Maps to help businesses and organizations improve Map (and search) presence.
Make your business a destination
With Google Maps you can share a set of directions. Someone wants to know how to find your business? Go ahead, text them directions (you’ve long been able to copy a map link and email it).
How about searching a community for restaurants by cuisine? In the mood the Chinese? Search it on Google Maps. This is a big deal for restaurant marketers, obviously and step up on Yelp.
Want to know the weather in any city? Yep, on the Maps, too.
For the simple art of navigating Google Maps lets you drop pins at any point and find directions between the two pins. Yea, sure, you’ve been able to drop pins for a while but dropping two pins on separate points can make navigation that much more precise and easy.
The bottom line here is you really should take advantage of setting your business or organization as a benchmark on the Google Maps. You’re not a way point on the cartography of online marketing. You’re a destination.