Monthly Archives: September 2012

Local Search Marketing Threat: Apple Maps

Well! Apple Shot Themselves in the Foot!

(We still think it’s worth signing up for Yelp. See below)

It seems that Apple Maps has delivered the company a bunch of problems they could do without! Places on their new maps that no longer exist, businesses in the wrong place, cloud-covered towns and who knows what other daft problems?

This picture of the Clifton Suspension Bridge appeared yesterday in the Western Daily Press and many other newspapers.

Clifton Suspension Bridge as it appears on Apple MapsNeedless to say, Apple promised to fix all the problems soon.

No threat to Google then! At least, not this week.

This update was added 21/9/2012. Read the original post below.

New Apple Maps

From now on, all new iPhones and iPads will ship with Apple’s new operating system, iOS6. Its new mapping system will displace Google maps on these devices. The change will also affect existing devices when they upgrade to iOS6.

Apple’s new offering, “May just be the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever,” or so they claim.

Whilst the system uses Apple’s own mapping software, its map data is licensed from TomTom.  It uses the business directory, Yelp, to respond to local searches.

Apple Maps

Naturally, Apple Maps has some superb features. These include interactive, 3D, highly-detailed, vector graphics maps, turn-by-turn directions, and real time traffic information.

great detail in Apple's Maps

Great Detail in Apple's Maps

It’s all fully integrated with Apple’s unique Siri, the intelligent speech recognition / activation system. Now it actually works in the UK!

There’s more information here.

Google’s Answer

Google has responded by announcing its “Ground Truth” project.

google example annotated with local data

Google example, with local data e.g. traffic restrictions and road names

Instead of relying on licensed maps, around 2008 Google started to build a whole new system – from the ground up. This combines its original map data with a huge amount of local data collected from Street View – still the best way to take a virtual tour of your destination.

Google claims that owning all the data is key, and without control of its licensed map and local data, Apple Maps will find it hard to compete. Some pundits predict Apple will return to Google Maps within two years.

So what?

With 40% of local searches performed on mobile devices, and 55% of those on Apple, this is likely to hit Google’s search market share.

Your Google Places page impressions could drop by up to a quarter, damaging your local lead generation activities.

So, with Apple Maps business data coming from Yelp, now’s the time to claim your business in Yelp’s directory. It won’t take long. And even if most iOS6 users switch back to Google Maps, it’s not a wast of time.

NB: We still recommend claiming your Yelp business listing, despite Apple’s gaff.

Don’t use exactly the same words in your Yelp entry as you do in Google Plus Local, use it to support your Plus Local page. Make it similar, perhaps with some different or extra business facts or differentiators.

Don’t have a Google Plus Local page? It’s easy. Find out how.


SEO Progress Report

SEO Progress Report

Well, it’s the beginning of September and we’ve moved from nowhere (i.e. not on the first 10 pages for our chosen keywords), to page 2 in less than a month.

bluetree s e o position chartWe’ve used SERPS position 100 to indicate that our site didn’t show up in the first 10 pages.

Position 1 is at the bottom, so the lower the better on the chart.

Note: we’re talking about “organic search,” the main results listing, not pay-per-click advertising.

How We Made Progress

This is all we did, really, to make this progress:

  1. For the last three or four months, we’ve been building content on our new website, not exposed to Google.
  2. We removed some irrelevant pages on a micro-site we’ve been hosting for a client.
  3. On 12 August, 2012, we submitted our website to Google.

That’s all. We did no page optimisation, no extra link-building. Nothing.

Why the Progress?

We’re testing our theories.

We believe Google wants to deliver the most relevant page in response to every search query. That’s the page the user thinks most relevant, not the one that a search engine optimisation team thinks.

There’s all sorts of SEO advice out there on the web, but we think we should listen to Google. They tell us to,

  • Make sure our websites are clean and tidy;
  • Follow the SEO Guidelines;
  • Deliver useful information;
  • Create good in-bound links with appropriate anchor text;
  • Make sure our pages load quickly;
  • Make a popular site…

And so it goes on. We’d normally address the first two points first, but thought it would be worth changing the sequence, to see what happens.

Well, quite a lot happened. We wouldn’t normally expect to leap up the scoreboard as fast as that. It confirms our theory that content counts for an awful lot, but there’s still some way to go.

In Our Next Report

Next we’re going to look at page load speed. Again, we wouldn’t usually address load speed now, but Google seems to be pushing it.