If you manage a business, you know the importance of getting listed in online maps and directories. But getting listed and including accurate information about your location(s), hours, and goods & services can be challenging. The big player in this game, Google, often gets things right, but it can be difficult to correct Google’s database when they get it wrong (that’s a topic for another column).
Apple, Inc. has created a rival online ecosystem including its own Maps app and accompanying business database, which stumbled out of the starting gate a couple of years ago. Apple must create an accurate maps resource as part of its plans to service consumers in a complete way, and to shoulder Google out of its products.
Enter the recently announced Apple Maps Connect for Small Business, a self-service Apple Maps business listing tool made available for free to anyone with an Apple ID.
As you might expect, Apple has provided an easy-to-use, clean and simple interface for entering and maintaining your business profile. You start by logging in and answering questions. You will be asked about your relationship with the business, (owner, authorized manager, etc.), and business name, location, and phone number. You will also be asked to verify your primary business phone number with a PIN code apple will text you (or voice call to a land line).
Next, you will confirm your business location via a map pushpin, and then you add your business category or multiple categories. You may list detailed hours of operation by day of the week, and links to your website, Facebook page if any, as well as Yelp and Twitter. These are all valuable, and the link to your website will strengthen your business site in organic web search.
After you review and submit your information, your business will be entered into a review queue, which Apple says should take about a week, and that has been the case in actual client setups. You will receive a confirming phone call at your listed business phone, also.
Overall, the Apple Maps Connect for Small Business process is simpler and easier to manage than Google’s Google My Business offering. However, you should be managing both listings carefully.
Here are some additional tips for getting your Apple Maps listing approved quickly:
- Use an email address that matches the domain of the business you are seeking to list.
- Apple will approve only businesses that can confirm a physical location.
- You may list and manage multiple businesses or locations with a single Apple ID login.
If you wish to include a business photo, Apple Maps Connect for Small Business draws its photos from Yelp, so secure a Yelp account if you don’t have one, and update your photos there.
Larger businesses with high store visitor volume may also use the Maps Connect interface to manage Apple’s “indoor positioning” navigation and photos setup.
Apple Maps Connect is available only for U.S. businesses at this time, but Apple will be rolling it out to additional nations.
Overall, Apple has provided a clean and simple interface and process for updating and verifying your business information. It hasn’t yet provided as much functionality as Google My Business, which lets you add more information and photos, and has its own review and customer comment utility through Google+. However it is a good start toward getting your business noticed in the increasingly important Apple search and maps environment.