Sure, 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.
Maps advances for iOS systems (iPhones)
Google Maps updated in late March its iOS app to include the iOS Places Autocomplete Widget.
“With the release of iOS 1.13, you can now add further custom styling to your autocomplete widget to create a consistent visual identity,” explains the Google Geo Developers Blog.
“Autocomplete functionality assists users by automatically completing the name and address of a place as they type,” Google further explains. “The autocomplete widget on iOS and Android makes it easier for you to add autocomplete functionality to your application with just a small amount of code. Also, we are adding autocomplete functionality to the place picker.”
Place picker has been a feature of the Android Maps app for a while and with the inclusion of the autocomplete widget for its iOS app, Maps also makes that function possible for Android systems as a Fragment.
What this means for marketeers is the ability to stand out even more on Google Maps, provided you make the effort.
Changes in Google Map search terms
Google announced in February some significant changes in the terms the Maps app will use – recognize – in search queries.
“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.