An update to Google Maps and Google Earth, clearer satellite images and Map waypoints, should make Google Maps an even sharper tool for digital marketing.
What? You’re not using Google Maps as part of your digital marketing toolbox? You should. But we’ll get back to that a few paragraphs on down.
First, the news coming from Google at the end of June that it has greatly enhanced its Google Earth (and, therefore, Google Maps) imagery. (Even if you don’t use the maps as a tool the Google Earth imagery is fascinating to see and play with.)
Google introduced to its Earth product in 2013 a cloud-free mosaic of images to give viewers a spotless view of anywhere on the globe.
With its update currently rolling out the images are sharper, clearer, more crisp (and more detailed) than ever.
“To produce this new imagery, we used the same publicly available Earth Engine APIs that scientists use to do things like track global tree cover, loss, and gain; predict Malaria outbreaks; and map global surface water over a 30 year period,” explained the Google blog.
“Like our previous mosaic, we mined data from nearly a petabyte of Landsat imagery—that’s more than 700 trillion individual pixels—to choose the best cloud-free pixels. To put that in perspective, 700 trillion pixels is 7,000 times more pixels than the estimated number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, or 70 times more pixels than the estimated number of galaxies in the Universe.”
That’s really cool and sexy and all but, really, the bigger news is the new Google Maps waypoints for its Android app (coming soon to iOS, Google promises).
“Road trip warriors can now get multi-stop directions in Google Maps on Android,” said Google. “Just open the app, enter a destination, tap the corner menu, and then click ‘Add a stop’. To rearrange the order of your stops, tap and hold the three dot menu to the left of ‘Add stop’ and drag it to the position you want – you can even search for types of places like gas stations or restaurants like you normally would. Once you’ve added all your stops, tap ‘Done’ and your multi-stop route is complete. When you enter navigation mode you’ll have the same seamless driving experience you’re used to, whether you’re going from errand to errand or hitting scenic spots along Route 66.”
Although Google didn’t say so directly, marketeers can probably look forward in this new feature to marketing opportunity grouped around waypoints, which brings us back to…
Google Maps as search engine
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.
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.