New Google Maps Improvements a Boon for Marketers

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Google-MapsLong ago, in the time of the ancients, there were these things called “road maps”. From huge sheets that could be folded into glove box-sized pamphlets to books feature every road in a city, for generations, a road map was the best way to find where you were going. The introduction of GPS signalled the beginning of the end for road maps, and smartphone apps like Google Maps put the nail in the coffin.

Though you’d be hard pressed to find a motorist under 30 with a road map in their car, Google isn’t satisfied and is still working to make Google Maps even better. Google recently made some changes to Google Maps on Android. This article will list these changes and they help marketers.

Google has made the user interface easier to use by adding voice actions in navigation mode. For example, users can find out how much longer until they reach their destination or have the map display current traffic without having to fiddle with controls. As many Google Map users utilize the app when they drive, adding voice actions will  make the product safer to user.

Not every Google Maps user is trying to drive somewhere and several of the new changes will benefit the alternative-method travelers. Google Maps have included directions for bikers for some time. This newest update adds elevation data to these bicycle routes. Better still, they’ve added a tool for comparing the elevation for multiple routes. For cyclist who are want to do less climbing, this tool is a godsend.

Google is also adding information about the ride-sharing service Uber, which allows users to connect with private drivers. Google Maps now has the Uber card shown in the car tab of navigation instead of just public transportation and walking. This is also very useful for modern travellers. When travelling by private-car transport like Uber (or Lyft, for that matter), the route options are much different than for someone who is walking or someone who is confined to the pre-scheduled public transportation route.

Of course, not every change to Google Maps was so important. Android Police, who first listed all the change details, mentioned a few changes that were mostly cosmetic. For example, the saved Your Places now appears in a slide-out navigation menu. Additionally to reach Your Places, the icon in the search bard was switched from a person to the voice icon. And finally, with truly minimal importance, the ETA is no longer in bold type.

According to Lifehacker, the changes should have rolled out onto android devices during the past few weeks. Anyone who hasn’t seen the changes on their phone yet and don’t want to wait for the automatic update can download the APK for themselves. Though changes to the iOS version weren’t immediately announced, it stands to reason that Google plans to implement the same improvements for iPhone and iPad users.

Anything that encourages people to use Google Maps is good for marketers. Google Maps is an excellent medium for brand discovery. When people type in an address, they are given a list of nearby businesses whose Google My Business (formerly Google Local) information can be reached with a single click. For any business using Google+ for marketing, increased use of Google Maps means an increase in exposure for their brand. For example, consumers often search for restaurants nearby them, and so on, and being discoverable on Google Maps can have a real effect on revenue.

As much as we may be nostalgic for an old-fashioned paper road map, they were never as useful for small business owners as Google Maps is today. Marketers need to be thankful when Google does anything to make the app more useful and make sure their company’s information is accessible and accurate on Google My Business.

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