iOS 6: How does Apple Maps impact your business?

Today is an important day as Apple becomes a part of every SEO’s life. If you connect your iDevice to iTunes you’ll be able to download Apple’s new iOS 6, which among other things introduces Apple Maps (Apple’s answer to the long standing Google Maps app they’d previously relied on). Many business owners have asked us how Apple Maps will operate compared to Google Maps and what they need to do to make sure their business isĀ  friends with Siri.

Apple's iOS 6

Apple’s new “Maps” app is powered by Yelp.com, and while Google Maps (formerly Google Places, now labeled Google+ Local) is still a major component of your local SEO for Android devices and computers, Yelp is suddenly a much larger player in local search. It’s time to start creating your Yelp profile.

Is Yelp better than Google Maps?

We have first-hand experience with Yelp and have attended Yelp events here in San Antonio. The review site gives favor to users with a provable track record – what they call their “Yelp Elite.” That is exciting for many business owners who feared that one user could post a single bad review and tank their Google Places rating. Others are concerned that Yelp’s “review system is broken” as even positive reviews from real customers can be filtered from your profile.

Yelp Window Sticker

If you’re going to post reviews on Yelp, they want to see that you aren’t just posting the one review for yourself and that you’re active on the site as a whole. Jennifer, a commenter on a recent Search Engine Land post about the Yelp inclusion in Apple Maps, said: “I don’t like Yelp. Mostly because unless you advertise on their site your positive reviews do get filtered out.

Yelp has come a long way since its launch in 2004, even at one point rejecting a reported offer from Google to purchase the company for $500 million. This new attention directed at the company is certain to be good for Yelp, but it is important to note that Yelp has never been profitable, posting an operating loss of $16.2 million on revenues of $82.3 million in 2011 according to Business Insider.

What do I need to do for my business?

If your customers find you using a GPS enabled phone, like the new iPhone 5, you’re going to want to create a Yelp profile for your business. Take a look at your competitors, or even profiles in other industries, and notice how they have uploaded photos and other media to their Yelp profile – you want to make sure your Yelp profile makes a good impression.

Engage with your customers and ask them to post reviews on your Yelp profile. We’ve helped some of our clients create custom-designed business cards that stress the importance of their feedback. The cards contained a custom short URL that their customers can use to access their business profile page directly in order to leave feedback. This works for Google Reviews as well.

UPDATE: Many of you have told us about the new Tumblr “The Amazing iOS 6 Maps” and we have to agree, it’s awesome. This new Tumblr page collects examples of just how far from correct Apple’s new Maps App is. Was Google Maps better? For now, yes, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to plug into Yelp so you aren’t a victim too.

Are you excited about Yelp’s larger role in local search, or did you prefer Google Maps instead? Let us know in the comments!