Google Maps is one of the most used mapping apps in the world. The first version of Google Maps was released in 2005 as a simple GPS app. It has since evolved into an essential resource to learn about a community, business, or area. Google is consistently rolling out new updates and features to match the needs of businesses and customers alike.
We all know that people are turning to technology to find information. They’re also beginning to trust that information more than ever. Because the world around us is constantly changing people are looking for information that can be updated in real-time. We trust institutions like Google to provide the most relevant information available about the world around us.
Is the local hardware store open on Easter? What time does the café close? Does the neighborhood grocery store require employees to wear masks? What does the city’s most popular moving company look like from the outside?
As Google continues to give us as users high-quality information, we will naturally trust it more and more. To take their user experience to the next level, Google Maps is rolling out three new ways for users to add useful information that will benefit others.
What Is Google Maps?
Google Maps is a free app that provides users with turn-by-turn navigation, public transit information, photos and ratings of places around them, and so much more.
Users simply download the Google Maps app and choose what they’re looking for. They can view a broad regional map, populated with important locations like parks, local businesses, municipal buildings, trails, and roads. They can narrow their interests through a quick search.
If they’re after the best sushi restaurant in New York they can search for that term and Google will return a massive list of options. To help make the decision easier, Google includes photos, reviews, ratings, price point, menus, and other information. Everything at the fingertips of the user.
By clicking on an option, the user can quickly call the restaurant, visit the website, or get directions.
The same options are available for every business regardless of industry.
How User-Generated Feedback Makes Google Maps Different
What makes google different is its ability to capture information from real people. When someone visits a local business, they can immediately share their experience online. They can upload photos of the business and the business’s products. They can leave a review. They can ask a question. They can suggest an edit if they find information that they believe to be incorrect. They can engage with the platform, rather than just take in the information that the platform gives them. This is incredibly powerful.
The three new ways to update Google Maps
Google announced on March 11, 2021, that Google Maps is rolling out three new ways for people to contribute new information to the world.
- Photo Updates – Users can post quick photos directly into reviews and store listings. Rather than reviewing a business, users can now directly post photos of a store location, including food, clothing, and other items. When someone snaps a photo of a restaurant, they can quickly update the map with the recent photo and a short text description. These photos will appear in the “Updates” tab of Google Maps. The important distinction here is that a user does not need to leave a review or rating to post these pictures.
- Draw New or Missing Roads – In over 80 countries users can already report road updates on Google Maps. However, this newest update takes it one step further. On desktop only, users can now draw lines to add missing roads, change road directionality, delete inaccurate information, and rename roads all in an instant. In areas where construction is prevalent, this feature will become popular as the quickest way to keep transit information accurate.
- “Local Love Challenge”-For the entire month following the announcement, Google is inviting users to participate in the “Local Love challenge.” This is a push from Google to get people to support local businesses by composing reviews, updating factual business information, and uploading photos. Google’s goal is to update over 100,000 businesses in only a month. This is the first nationwide challenge of its kind.
Why These Updates Matter to Small Businesses
With technology constantly changing, small businesses need to be aware of what’s happening around them. While keeping up with Google may seem trivial compared to things like payroll, purchasing, and fulfilling orders the reality is that these changes are taking place in the palms of every person that enters your business. Every customer that ever orders from you. Every potential customer that may one day find you. By recognizing the changes, your small business is poised to take advantage while others may not.
Encourage your employee to share the information with customers. Restaurant owners can encourage customers to upload photos of their newest menu items or drink of the month. Contractors can encourage customers to leave a review as part of the “Local Love challenge.” Small businesses in high construction areas can leverage Google’s new road feature to make it easier for customers to navigate to the front door. Marketing and SEO companies that cater to small businesses should be sure that their clients are pushing for more reviews and more engagement with customers. The real-world implications of just these three updates are limitless. The first step is being informed.
With so much going on, it can be easy to forget that Google Maps is still a very important part of the lives of billions of people around the globe. Google continues to update and refine Maps to help people around the world get where they need to go with confidence. Even though this update was introduced just days ago, you can be sure that thousands are taking advantage of the new features. Let’s do our part to ensure that small businesses and their customers gain the largest benefit from this update.
By Nick Valle