Can you recall when did you search for a local business on your phone for the last time? Very likely that it happened sometime in the last 24 hours...
More and more people are turning online in order to discover businesses. According to research by Brandon Gaille, an entrepreneurial blogger, 77.1 million mobile searchers (33% of all smart phone users) search for local businesses,so getting listed on online maps is absolutely crucial. Further to this, by 2015, 30% of all searches will be localised.
I recently spoke with a colleague who told how me how he searched for a local business on his iPad with an interest in purchasing their service - yet could not find a listing, which led to a missed opportunity for the business.
The local search market online is booming. Information on businesses in your surrounding area are available on websites or apps. The apps market for maps is growing at a huge rate with app downloads during the first quarter of the year up by 11% compared to the whole of 2012 according to industry sources. As only 37% of businesses have claimed their business on at least one platform, you can seize a valuable opportunity by claiming yours.
The main online maps services to get your business listed on are as follows:
Google Maps (most used online mapping application worldwide)
Bing Maps (Bing’s answer to Google Maps; utilised by Facebook pages)
Apple Maps (still being worked on heavily in order to compete with Google Maps. It will replace Google Maps for iOS as the default maps application when fully operational)
Nokia HERE Maps (used on Android, Windows 8 and iOS devices)
The difficulty level for getting your business listed varies for each platform and depends on how and where each type sources their business listings, often from 3rd party providers.
How to get into Google Maps
The easiest way to get into Google Maps for a business is to add or claim your listing. The first step is to navigate to Google Places for Business and signup/login with a company email address.
Next, fill out your information and Google will check if they have a listing already up for your business.
If you find a listing that matches your business, click it.
You will then be brought to a page where different verification options are presented; usually a phone call or postcard with a PIN sent to your business that takes 1-2 weeks to arrive.
However, if your business is not listed, you will have to select the "None of them match" option and drop a Google Maps Marker onto the point where your business is headquartered. You will then be required to receive a postcard with a PIN to confirm your business on Google Maps.
Once you receive this PIN, follow the instructions given on the postcard, enter your PIN and you are verified.
When you have control of your listing, you are able to add images, information and other material that will help to provide a user with sufficient knowledge on what your company offers.
The next step after this is to create a Google+ Business page which will amalgamate both listings once you have it verified also and allow you to enjoy the added Google+ features.
How to get into Bing Maps
The first step to get into Bing Maps if your company is located in the USA is to go to https://www.bingplaces.com/ and follow a similar procedure to the Google Places process listed above by searching for your business.
For businesses outside of the USA, there is no way to get directly into Bing Maps and instead, you must add your business to the relevant data provider for where your business is located. Bing will likely expand this in time to include other main parts of the world.
As you will see, Nokia HERE Maps provide business listings for Bing in a variety of countries which means you can get into two maps providers if you are located in one of these countries.
As Bing is a search engine that has increased its market share to 30% since its launch in 2009 , the benefits of having a listing on Bing are that you can put up online content like photos, specialties and services that showcase your business on this ever growing platform.
How to get into Apple Maps
Apple have had great difficulty in getting their flagship maps application up and running although there is no doubt that they will get it right eventually. Stay ahead of the pack and get your business listed on their mobile map application by following one of the following methods, based on your business’s location.
The first step for getting into Apple Maps is to navigate to the Apple Maps app (on an iPad or iPhone), simply called “Maps” and search for your business or location, as below:
If you cannot find your business, press and hold your finger on your location and this will drop a pin.
Press the blue information “i” button and click the “report a problem” function in the bottom right corner.
Select the “information is incorrect” option and hit “next”:
Enter your business information and submit it by clicking send in the top right corner.
There is no way to verify your listing on Apple Maps so you will just need to enter the information. In the future, Apple Maps may have a business portal.
Unfortunately, these reports take a long time for Apple to process but don not fret; you can also follow these steps and submit your business to the relevant region provider:
For business located in the USA, Localeze, Acxiom and Factual provide the business listings for Apple Maps and Yelp provide the reviews. In the U.K. the main provider is Factual.
How to get into Nokia HERE Maps
The first step to get your business listed on Nokia HERE Maps is to go to http://www.here.com/primeplaces/ and search for your business with a range of names that it could be listed under.
If you find it, all you need to do is select “This is my place”, correct the info, register an account on the site and then choose a verification option.
The email verification option is available provided your business already had a listing on Nokia HERE Maps and can be sent to an email address that is usually in the form of [email protected]
If you could not locate your business, fill in your business details when prompted and fine tune the arrow where your business is. You will then be asked to register an account and choose a verification method such as credit card, postcard, official document or phone call.
When testing the email verification method, unfortunately a lot of the time, the email simply never sent despite selecting the resend email option. The safest method is to choose the document verification procedure which requires that you upload an official document with your business address on it as below:
This method takes 2-3 days and will allow you to add extensive information on your business and possibly appear in Bing Maps.
Problems with getting listed on online maps
All maps utilise third party data sources and if your information is not consistent on all platforms, you may have an un-optimised listing. There are paid services available although little is known as to whether or not they work successfully. To combat this problem, focus on the importance of uniformity on all sources where you submit your business. Consistency is key.
Verification methods don’t always work
Maps providers also do not always send verification options as they claim to. On a number of occasions, the email for Nokia HERE Maps never arrived to the specified email address. For Google Maps, the postcard which takes 2-3 weeks to arrive does not always arrive which means that more time is wasted. Submitting a report to Apple Maps is no guarantee that your business is listed.
Information provided to your verified listing doesn’t always pull through
Sometimes, even when your business listing is verified, the information you add or change does not reflect in your listing or can take a long time to be updated as requested. Stay persistent and keep checking.
Contact us here if you need any help.