What's the Impact of Google's New My Maps on Local Businesses?

If your local business isn’t already prominently featured on Google Maps, Google just upped the ante with a new set of upgraded features called My Maps. Allowing the user to create and share their own personal maps with their favorite locations, My Maps opens the door for a lot of new functionality.

How Does Google My Maps Work?

Starting from the My Maps homepage, you are prompted to either open an existing saved map or create a new one. You can then draw locations directly on the map, or find them in the search box and add them to your map layers. Individual map layers can be turned on and off as desired, in order to declutter your map. For instance, you could create a layer called Pizza, on which you annotate all of your favorite local pizza restaurants. Then when you were thinking about ordering a pizza, you might turn on that layer and see all of your nearby faves.

You can also create routes – for driving, walking, and bicycling – and mark them on your map to share with friends. You can add in descriptions and images of locations that you place on your map, such as landmarks or a favorite picnic spot. Although you cannot currently upload an image, you can do an image search to find an existing one.

Maps can be saved and shared with select users, or made available to the general public, which is great if you want to highlight local attractions around your hotel or other venue.

How Will This Affect Local Search?

Anything that enhances the Google Map experience is likely to increase the number of people using the app, and thereby make it that much more important for local businesses to make sure they’re showing up in local Google searches. Additionally, the new functionality is a boon for hospitality businesses who want to lure customers in by publishing interesting routes and tours that include their venues, such as a Key West “pub crawl” or a “best of Miami” shopping district tour.

How Can I Make Sure My Business Shows Up on Google Maps?

Google Maps relies heavily on Google+ page information, so the best way to make sure that your information is accurately featured is to claim and update your Google+ page, as well as individually listing your business in Google Maps. As an added benefit, the Google account you create will be the same one that you use to create your shareable maps, which you can then link to your Google+ page along with your website, Facebook page, and anywhere else you want to share your maps.

In a nutshell, the new Google My Maps functionality will have users posting everything from favorite bike routes to professional sightseeing tours, meaning a lot more users checking out the local businesses along the way, for everything from a place to get a cup of coffee to a specialty massage. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep up with the increasingly connected and mobile world and make sure your local business is prominently featured!