On April 26th 2021, Apple Maps launched its own rating system as part of its latest iOS 14.5 release to enable customers' ratings and post photos of businesses like shops, bar, restaurants and other points of their interests. The idea is to get away from the review data from their partners like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare. They have been relying on their reviews but not anymore following the launch of their own rating solutions.
This launch comes two months after Apple Maps released new features to better their customers' navigation experience; collections, indoor Maps, and favorite locations. This article is about to clear up on what's new, what this launch means for local SEOs, and pose some pressing questions and outline their outcomes.
Apple Maps are beginning to take control. They are reducing their dependencies on the data from their partners and are now fully dependent on their own native Apple maps ratings. This new rating system allows customers and visitors to recommend business locations.
Users can rate different aspects of their experience with your business using this new system. You can receive both a thumbs down and a thumbs up simultaneously, with one rating your service and the other rating the product, just like how facebook's yes or no recommendations work. This new rating system works very differently from Google Maps, where users are encouraged to leave their reviews.
In addition, this new system also gives a new feature called upload Photos to Maps. The feature enables users to upload directly to Apple Maps, different from what was happening before this launch. Earlier, users were submitting photos to their partners, Yelp, Foursquare, or TripAdvisor, for them to appear on Apple Maps. There is a restriction regarding the age limit allowed to upload pictures to Apple Maps. You must be 13 years and above. There's a team responsible for checking all the pictures before uploading.
The system uses a built-in machine to see how frequently people have visited a certain location or place as they aim to only accept ratings from those who have physically been to that place to reduce fake reviews.
The Pressing Questions
Now that Apple Maps are starting to distance themselves from their review partners, what could that mean for the entire review economy? Also, what about the map spam? Are they really free from them? For these and other concerns, including what the future holds for the local SEOs, please read on.
So, what does this new Apple Maps ratings system mean for their partners?
Thanks to the Yelp integration with apple maps, it has a name and a position to brag about in the whole SEO circle. You'll be limiting the amount of information your prospects could get through Apple Maps if you don't allow yelp reviews; that's how important Yelp is to Apple Maps. We've seen some local SEO experts like Cori Graft encouraging people to use Yelp because of the yelp integration with apple maps. Yes, Google Maps are quite popular, but Apple Maps will soon catch up if they continue improving their software like they have been doing in the past.
Imagine how many new unique users Apple Maps receive through Yelp every month, 23.3 million reported from Statistica. That is how much reach the Apple Maps app will miss if they were to cut Yelp out completely. It's not clear how many SEO experts will still focus on Yelp if it becomes irrelevant to Apple Maps.
Will Apple Maps completely sever ties with Yelp?
This is what most people are asking. It will indeed happen, but certainly not overnight. This is a gradual process, and so far, no one knows when the new Apple Maps rating system will take over Yelp’s position in their App.
As it stands, Apple Maps still rely on Yelp and other partners for reviews to give information to their customers. It is evident that Apple Maps still needs time to fully occupy its space before they can let Yelp go, which will indeed happen in the near future.
What will they do to increase and encourage ratings?
As we’ve seen above, they intend to stop relying on their partners' reviews to give information to their customers. But for them to finally say goodbye to Yelp, they need a strong standing ground in the form of ratings. So apple needs to motivate and encourage its users to leave ratings on the App.
There are several encouraging ways to achieve more ratings including, rewarding their loyal customers with money, top badges, and other promotional perks. This is what most businesses and websites use to encourage and reward their loyal customers. They just need to decide on what will work best for them and launch it ASAP.
What about Apple Maps reviews?
There hasn’t been news about Apple Maps Reviews. This new system only talks about the ratings as users are encouraged to rate businesses in different categories, giving them either a thumbs up or thumbs down. But is that really enough, especially now that most businesses are encouraged to strictly adhere to Coronavirus WHO guidelines to stop the spread of Covid-19?
Certainly not. Searchers would want to see what other people are saying about the restaurants, shops, and other businesses they are dealing with. Though it's still early, we hope that the apple ratings is just the beginning of what Apple has in store for its users and that soon it will expand to meet all their users’ needs.
Is the “upload photo” feature as good as the written reviews?
The upload photo feature is quite unique and very different from what Google app users are used to. But, is it all that the users want to understand a place? Is it possible to upload a photo that will tell you all of the necessary information you need; location, safety measures, and their products?
As of now, it's not very clear if only the ratings and photos are enough to convince users to purchase from the App, only time will tell. Another thing that is still unclear is how checking pictures before uploading and restricting age will influence users' purchase decisions. But, the process will indeed reduce map spam cases.
Can the new apple ratings reduce fake reviews?
Unlike the Google apps review system, where anyone can write and leave a review about a business, Apple Maps use a build-in machine to see who is fit to leave a rating. In addition, this machine is able to detect customers who have visited a certain place or location severally. Thus, only loyal customers can give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the business in question.
This will most certainly reduce fake reviews as a user can only recommend the businesses they have visited.
The local SEO community, what’s their take on Apple Maps rating?
This kind of news can’t go unnoticed, and as expected, the local SEOs have taken to Twitter to make their opinions known. Some of them think that Apple took so long to bring the changes on board as they already have many apple users. On the other hand, others appreciate their efforts on improving user experience using this rating solution because it gives something different from what many are used to.
There are several mixed reactions out there, which is very common with anything new. Soon you’ll see users’ different opinions after using it and their recommendations.
Like anything new in the market, you’d want to ensure you use it to gain experience first-hand. To experience these changes, you must change to iPhone if you’re using Android, update it to apple’s latest iOS and start playing around with all the new features available. You would intend to see;
- How fast it works
- The kind of questions users are concerned about, and
- If the interface is user-friendly.
This way, you’ll understand what awaits the searchers as a business owner and also understand what to expect when you ask your loyal customers to leave a positive rating on Apple Maps. So, what’s next is for businesses to take the initiative to discover a whole new experience and normalize asking searchers to leave a rating instead of reviews.
Like you’ve seen earlier, this system doesn’t allow written review feedbacks. This is worth keeping in mind as you prepare online and offline signages to encourage your customers to rate your business on Apple Maps.
We can’t say for sure that this new Apple Maps rating solution will shake Google since there is only one differencing factor; ratings, but the concept is the same. Google Maps have the highest number of users in the navigation apps world, and it will take time and great persuasion skills for Apple Maps to come close to them.
But, it is still worthwhile for businesses to put these changes into consideration to see how their businesses will be affected if they use Apple Maps. They should possibly shift their focus from Yelp and other review firms and start looking deeply into Apple Maps.
What do you think?