6 November, 2014

Apple Maps Connect Update – two weeks on

Apple Maps Connect updateA couple of weeks ago I wrote about the release of Apple Maps Connect – the self-serve portal allows business owners to maintain and manage their business listings on iOS devices. This has long been the ugly step-child of local search, and I’m delighted to see it emerging.

While it’s not yet available in Australia, knowing what’s coming and how it works will make the process easier and faster when it does roll out. Following is a round up of what has been learned so far by colleagues in the US:

We already know the listings are very basic – name, address, phone, hours, categories, links to your website, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter. Approval is automated, so you don’t want to try anything clever that could delay the process and trigger a manual review. If your listing is clean, you should see it live in about a week. If manual – well from my own experience it can take months, over a year, or never.

It seems categories are also fairly basic – just 671 of them in total, so pick the best fit you can find. You can have up to three, and only one will show on your listing.
hat-tip: Phil Rozek and his groovy Google spreadsheet make it easier to find the closest match.

The kinds of businesses that can list is really basic – only businesses with a shopfront. In other words, no service area businesses such as tradies who come to your home.  My guess is this is an attempt to combat the enormous spam issue in Google Maps.

Businesses that may not be approved include: home-based businesses, businesses with temporary locations or without a physical address, or businesses that have not yet opened for business

Verification is widely being reported as either a piece of cake or a nightmare of waiting, as it all seems to be done via phone (even though Apple state in their help text you can do via email). Tip from Mike Blumenthal, if you’re having trouble, log out and then back in. Whatever time delay you’re experiencing seems to be reset by logging out.

Key details from Apple’s own help pages

Multi-location businesses – sorry to report, if you have less than 100 locations you must update/claim/enter them all manually. You can submit a file for uploading if you have more than that, but there’s no template specified. I’d base one on what you provide to Google. I’m also seeing reports of issues with the file upload not appearing to be working yet.
Multiple businesses at one location – I find this one fascinating as it’s quite different to Google’s approach.

…create only one profile per physical location having a distinct purpose. Departments with clearly separate purposes may have a separate profile.

Now while Google allows for departments at entities such as hospitals and universities, if a local business has multiple divisions they force you to chose only one for a local page. Here it seems if a company has different divisions focussed on clearly separate purposes, that’s okay. The devil will be in the detail of how Apple interpret “separate purpose”.

Practitioner & practice listings – like Google, it’s okay to have one listing for the doctor/dentist/etc and one for the practice.

You may create a profile for public-facing individuals if they have contact information that’s different than their business.

Change the photo? It comes from Yelp. Yet another reason to claim and update your listing there.