Voice activated speakers are changing the way you must optimize your website for years to come. Devices such as Alexa, Google Home, Apple's forthcoming HomePod and artificial intelligence already on your existing mobile devices such as Siri (Apple) and Cortana (Microsoft) will create some vacuums for local search results. You may have already optimized Google My Business for a stellar search result in local business listings on Google.com and if you ask Google Home to find the business like yours – near you chances are your business will come up in the search results. Unfortunately this is something that may not happen for certain types of businesses asking Siri to find a business like them near them.
Maps Have a Brand New Bag
I have personally spent time keeping the Google My Business Listing for SMB Strategic Media LLC, my public relations and branding firm, up-to-date to ensure it displays among geographically listed organic search results. But with the proliferation of voice activated speakers and artificial intelligence assistants, people are beginning to search for what they need in a different way. For instance, I have optimized my site to be found for search terms like “PR Expert New Jersey.” But if someone were to ask an artificial intelligence solution such as Siri, which would likely conduct the search via Apple’s Safari browser, to find a public relations expert near them within my geographical ,my business will not show up. And here’s why.
Apple Maps Dirty Little Secret
I had to try this out myself. I simply asked Siri to find a public relations expert near me (while located in the area in which I operate). Siri showed me multiple businesses near me, two that had nothing to do with PR agencies at all (that was disturbing), but most importantly none of them were my firm. However, when I asked Siri to find an NJ public relations expert the search results revealed my business as a top organic search result mainly because I did not ask Siri to find one near me.
Alarmed, I scrambled to find out how to update my business listings in Apple Maps Connect which I apparently I have been overlooking (how could have let this happen right?) After logging in to Apple Maps Connect with my handy dandy Apple ID and finding the area to enter a business location I had a rude awakening. It was asking me to enter my location --- I have web-based business with no physical address. I quickly went to the help Q&A only to discover that Apple Maps does not list web or home-based businesses without a physical public address.
This differs drastically from the widely popular Google My Business offering which actually has a process to prove that a web or home-based business owner is in fact who they are and to create a geographically specific listing for that web or home-based business that does not reveal their actual physical location. Google business listings actually support home-based business in being found in the search engine. So if your potential customers use Siri to search a business like yours near them, but if you do not have a physical address you will not be found – period.
Here a screenshot the response I received from Apple confirming my revelations:
An Appeal for Apple Maps to Recognize Web-Based Businesses
It’s time for Apple Maps to embrace web-based businesses with a physical address. Up until now this has not been a major issue, but with more and more people using voice activated AI speakers asking it to find a business near them will be a common request. With Apple releasing it’s Home Pod AI speaker this will be even more important!
If you operate any business without a physical address that has an online presence you may want to see what happens when you ask Siri to find a business like yours near you. IF your business is not found, please send Apple Maps a message expressing your disappointment and ask when they will update it to accommodate your business type. Your future growth depends on it.
Here is a link to submit a contact form: https://mapsconnect.apple.com/ui/contactus