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One of Google’s most successful services is Google Maps. Despite its popularity, it hasn’t really changed since its release just under eight years ago. Until now that is! Google recently announced, at the company’s annual conference, that Maps will be getting a large makeover that could impact businesses. Whether this is a benefit to your business may depend on whether or not you have a Google+ profile.
Here is an overview of the upcoming change to Google Maps and what it could mean for your business.
The new version of Maps aims to bring a more personal map to users. It is currently an invite only update, but Google has noted that all users will be updated sometime between August and November this year.
The first thing you will notice when you see the new layout is that the maps themselves have been visually updated. Major roadways are now highlighted, while smaller roads are muted. This generally makes the map look less cluttered and easier to read. In truth, it looks a lot closer to the mobile app. Beyond that, Google Earth has been integrated into this new version of Maps.
While the new maps are easier to read, the biggest change is to the overall layout. In the existing Maps, when you search for a business or location a bar on the left of the screen displays search results and highlights businesses on the map with pins. The new version does away with the results bar and instead provides a drop-down card with businesses and locations shown as red dots on the map.
How the new Maps will work
Google has made the new Maps more dynamic. In the current version, when you search or simply look at a map everybody sees the same results and a static map is shown to all users. In the new version, the map will be different for each user. Search results and identified businesses will be different based on your preferences, reviews, friends and search history.
Beyond that, the map itself is highly flexible. If you click on a business or landmark, it will change to show you similar businesses in the area, with closely related businesses bolded and popping out at you. Clicking on a bolded business will bring up a card on the left of the window with more information, including contact details, reviews, Street View, 360 Panoramas, (if available), and photos. Clicking on the card will open the business’s Google+ page.
What does this mean for my business?
The most important factor to note about the new Google Maps is that Google has made your Google+ page an incredibly important part of your online presence. When a user searches for a business on Google Maps, they will be able to filter results based on top reviews and their Circles. What this means for you is that if you have had some less than positive reviews, or don’t have a Google+ presence, your business will show up lower on search results, or may not even register on some personalized maps.
Essentially, Google wants to promote quality businesses that have an active presence on Google+. If you haven’t been focusing on your Google+ profile, it is time to start doing so. You should ensure that your information is correct and up-to-date, and that you are posting content on a regular basis. You will also need to build up your contacts and encourage customers to review your business on Google+.
While the new version of Maps won’t be out for a few months yet, it is wise to get ready for it today. If you would like to learn more about the changes and how you can prepare for these, please get in touch with us.
Published on 4th June 2013 by Jeanne DeWitt.