A big shift is coming in Local Search, thanks to Apple

There is no shortage of those that want to challenge Google, but how many really have the resources? Apple does, and after Google took a bite out of Apple by launching the Android platform, Apple is getting ready to bite back in a way that will affect how you get found on mobile phones.

With the launch of iOS 6 this fall, Apple is launching it’s own Maps feature, the primary tool used by iPhone and iPad users to find local businesses online.¬† Here’s the kicker; according to Search Engine Land, it’s even bigger than Google’s with 100 million records vs. Google’s 80 million. This will redirect all those iPhone and iPad users through it’s own system instead of Google’s. Why? Apple wants to keep more ad revenue and get Google off the iPhone and iPad as soon as possible. With 34 million iPhone users and 67 million iPad users, this will be a big shift in how mobile users find local goods and services.

The good news is the impact won’t happen all at once, and you have time to prepare if you haven’t already. Yelp.com is confirmed to be one source of local business data, and other providers like Localeze.com have been cited by Search Engine Watch.

Is this a big deal? I think so. More than 40% of searches in Google are done on a mobile device and it’s growing, so with Apple’s market share, there is a lot of local searches on the line.¬†Want to make sure you are showing up? Here are a few things you can do right now to make sure your information is getting found.

1. Start taking Yelp seriously if you haven’t already. Restaurants, retail, and other service businesses know the importance of Yelp and the influence it has on customers. Apple Maps is going to use this ratings information and, in fact, we know that Siri is already using it.

Claim your Yelp listing, make sure your information is correct and filled out completely, and get a consistent plan in place for encouraging your customers to leave great reviews on Yelp’s website. The number and quality of reviews affect how well you get found on Yelp, so I’d expect the same in Apple maps.

2. Get your local data in perfect shape accross the numerous local search providers, expecially Localeze. The info should be exact everywhere – Local search engines, directories, yellow pages, etc. Check your company name, address, and phone number. If any of them are different, submit a change. If you aren’t listed, get it added for more exposure online. Go to GetListed.org. It allows you to check your data on several sites, but that’s just a start. There can be dozens of “directory” sites with your information on them, so a good old Google search on your company name is recommended to find where else you are listed and if the information is correct.

3. Correct any incorrect information ASAP. If you get even a hint that your company info isn’t correct somewhere, take care of it immediately by fixing it and looking for other places that have the wrong info. Do some Google searches on the bad info to see if it’s listed in more places and get it fixed. Incorrect data can quickly confuse the search engines, drop the authority of your website, and maybe your rankings if you don’t take care of it.

I’m excited to see how this changes mobile search, and I’ll be watching how this changes how you get found online.

What do you think about the change? Let me know with a comment below.

This post was written by Joey Ambrose on June 18, 2012

Joey is the President and CEO of Go Web Solutions, an award-winning web design and Internet marketing company in Tucson, Arizona. When he's not helping clients get the most from their web sites, Joey enjoys cycling, running, swimming and hiking. Contact him at: joey@gowebsolutions.com or on Google+

Leave a Reply