Author: Krystal Taing
Your business’s website and its Google Business Profile are considered the mainstays of local SEO. But, simply covering the essentials leaves a lot on the table for your competitors to take advantage of.
Extending your local business’s online presence to Apple Maps enables you to create an entry point in one of the only digital ecosystems that rivals Google’s.
Whether you’re new to Apple Maps or eager to learn more about how to better optimize your listing with Apple Business Connect, my goal is to equip you with the knowledge and strategies you need to attract and convert more customers on Apple.
Get ready to dive into everything you need to know to harness the power of Apple Business Connect and make your mark on Apple Maps.
Table of contents:
What is Apple Maps?
Launched in 2012, Apple Maps is a feature-rich navigation app that is available on Apple’s iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS operating systems.
In addition to providing driving directions, Apple Maps includes a variety of tools to help users plan their routes and explore their surroundings. Users can search for nearby restaurants, shops, and other businesses, and view ratings, reviews, and photos from other users.
Similar to other search engines and navigation sites (e.g., Google Maps, Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc.), you should ensure that your business information (address, phone number, hours of operation, website URL, etc.) is accurate and up-to-date on these platforms so that it is easier for potential customers to find you.
Apple Business Connect and its place in your local SEO toolkit
It’s never been more important to meet shoppers where they are. That having been said, there are many platforms to choose from when determining where to focus your local SEO efforts.
In terms of search market share, Apple Maps has been the default navigation app on all iPhones and iPads since 2012. This accounts for a potential active user base of over one billion devices worldwide and makes Apple Maps one of the most widely used navigation applications in the world. With the number of users searching on Apple Maps every day, ensuring your business profile appears accurately and is engaging is imperative.
“Apple crossed the 1 billion active iPhones milestone [in 2021], after selling its billionth iPhone in 2016 and then hitting 900 million active iPhone users in 2019.” — Tom Warren, The Verge
Apple Maps has continued to innovate its features over the last 10 years, with a focus on improving user experience. The launch of Apple Business Connect is in line with this trend and delivers more relevant information to searchers and provides a much improved experience for businesses as well.
The level of effort to claim, update, and publish your business on Apple Maps for a single location is fairly minimal, but the potential impact is high. As an additional local citation, Apple Maps should definitely be one of your top considerations.
What makes Apple Maps unique for local SEO?
The ways in which a consumer may search for a business or product information depends on where they are in their buying journey. At its core, Apple Maps is a navigation application, which sets it apart from the likes of Google, Bing, and Yelp (which are search engines).
This means that when users go to Apple Maps, they typically have some type of destination or action in mind, and are ready to plan out their trip. At this stage though, there is still an opportunity to present searchers with information that can have an influence on their buying decision. This is why it’s critical to complete your business listing on Apple, as potential customers are in a critical buying stage.
One limitation, however, is that Apple Maps currently only supports brick-and-mortar businesses. Local businesses that provide their service at their customer’s locations, and do not display their address, are not eligible for a listing (e.g., landscapers, electricians, etc).
The launch of Apple Business Connect
In January of 2023, Apple launched Apple Business Connect, making it easier for businesses to claim, manage, and optimize their Apple Maps listings. The much anticipated launch of Apple Business Connect replaced what was previously known as “Maps Connect,” which was a more rudimentary interface that allowed businesses to update their basic location information.
Although Maps Connect has been available for businesses to manage their location data, Apple Maps also relies on data from third-party partners like Foursquare, Yelp, and Tripadvisor to provide business information, ratings, and reviews. Apple will continue to maintain its integration with Yelp, which allows customers to see Yelp photos and reviews in the business details (also known as “Place Cards”).
Apple Business Connect takes this even further, allowing you to enhance your business listings with important details that were previously lacking and providing you with performance data (more on this below), enabling you to create better optimized and richer listings.
A guide to Apple Business Connect for local businesses
Apple has been gathering and publishing business data for years, so it’s entirely possible that your business information already exists on Apple Maps. Business Connect makes it easier to take control of that business information, further enhancing your profile with all of the details you want to share with customers.
While the availability of features may be limited by region, Apple Maps is available in over 200 countries around the world, so the majority of businesses globally can use Apple Business Connect. Apple Business Connect also supports businesses of all sizes, whether you have one location or thousands.
Creating your business with Apple Business Connect
Apple categorizes businesses into two types in order to get started on Apple Business Connect. You can either be:
One business with fewer than 25 locations
One/multiple businesses with more than 25 locations
For businesses that fall into the second category, Apple Business Connect offers the ability to delegate profile management to a third-party. This means if you are leveraging an SEO agency or third-party tool to manage your listings, you can continue to do so on Apple Maps as well. The agency or third-party just needs to be approved as an API partner and then you can delegate (or share) your business with them to manage on your behalf.
When you’re ready to configure your accounts and listings, proceed to Apple Business Connect and select the blue “Get Started” button.
01. The first thing you need to do is log in or create an Apple ID that will connect to your business on Apple Maps. Once you’ve created and logged into your account with your Apple ID, you will be prompted to begin setting up your business. Be aware that Apple requires some information in order to verify your affiliation with the business.
To begin, you need to provide:
Your business’s legal name (this does not have to be the customer-facing name if that differs; you will have the opportunity to set your display name once your business is verified.)
Your business’s country or region
Your business’s physical address
Your business’s phone number (used for verification)
You should also add more details about your location (including descriptions, images, and so on) once you’ve created and verified your business.
02. Once logged in, Apple will prompt you to select your business type. Your options are:
a. Small Business — As mentioned above, these can be individual businesses or franchise-style businesses with between 1 and 24 locations.
b. Enterprise — Businesses with 25 or more locations.
c. Third-Party Partner — This category is for tools and agencies that manage Apple Maps listings for other Small Businesses and Enterprises.
03. Next, Apple Business Connect will walk you through the five-step process for creating your business.
You will need to search for your business to determine if it already exists on Apple Maps. If you find the correct business, select it and proceed to the next step. If it doesn’t already exist on Apple Maps, select “Add a new location with this name.”
04. Next, you will fill out or confirm the rest of your business details, as well as confirm the location of your entrance (on the map).
05. You will then be prompted to add your operating hours, including holiday and secondary hours.
These hours (as well as any additional details) will not be published to your Apple Maps Place Card until you complete all steps and verify your business. It’s still important to ensure this information is accurate as Apple will review your information during the verification process.
06. Once you have completed these steps, you will be prompted for verification. Based on the information provided, Apple may give you a few options. You can:
Skip verification — You will be taken to the Business Connect portal where you can continue adding information about your business. However, you will need to return to complete verification at a later date in order to publish this information.
Verify your business by phone — Apple will provide a verification code to the phone number you provided earlier, so make sure this is a phone number you have access to in order to receive the call.
Verify your business by uploading documents — You will be prompted to upload legal business documents (such as a lease or utility bill). In order to be eligible, these documents should have the same legal name and address you provided in the first steps of setting up your business. Otherwise, you may risk failing verification, which will delay publishing your information to customers on Apple Maps.
Apple states that the verification process may take up to five business days. Once your listing is verified, it will begin to show on Apple Maps to searchers and potential customers.
Apple Business Connect features: Completing your Place Card
Once your business is verified (or while you wait for the verification process to complete), you can begin optimizing your listing, or Place Card. '
Much in the same way that you might invest time to optimize your business details on other sites and search engines, you want to add as much rich detail about your business as possible so potential customers have everything they need to make a decision.
Review Apple’s photo and text standards and guidelines prior to completing your Place Card to ensure that your data complies with Apple’s standards. Place Cards allow you to publish the following information about your business:
Place card header: A business photo and logo
Display name: The real world name of your business
Call to action: Buttons that allow users to take an action. You should choose the most relevant calls-to-action to add to your business profile. The options include:
“Add to Favorites”
“Add to Guide”
“Save as Contact”
“Share this Place”
Showcase: You can add special offers and events to your profile that will stay published for 30 days. Showcases can include:
A brief title or headline (up to 38 characters)
A description of the offer or event (up to 58 characters)
An additional action button
About: A description of your business and this specific branch/location
Photos: Additional photos of your business, service, or products
Address: Complete address of this location (which may be the same one you used to verify your account)
Phone: The direct phone number for this location
Hours: The hours this location is open for customers
Website: The website for this business or specific location
App: The link to your app in the App Store
Categories: The type of business this is (you can find the full list here).
Good to know: You can select applicable attributes from the list below.
Accepts Credit Cards, Contactless Payments, Accepts Apple Pay
Status (whether the location is open, permanently or temporarily closed)
For official documentation about completing your Apple Place Card, review the Apple Business Connect User Guide.
Measuring your success on Apple Maps with performance data
Referred to as “Insights,” performance data about how users interact with your business on Apple Maps is a new feature of Apple Business Connect. This can inform the types of information you publish by cluing you into the details that are more (or less) important to users, as well as other success indicators.
Apple Business Connect Insights include data for search and the Place Card. Insights are not available until up to three days after a location is verified, and data remains available for up to 12 months if the listing was previously published on Apple Maps. If you just created and published your business on Apple, the Insights data will begin reporting after that date.
Insights from search includes data on two core metrics:
How many times a business was tapped on in search results
What users searched before selecting your business. This is broken into the following categories:
Name or Brand Searches (a name or brand associated with this location)
Category Searches (a product, service, or business category related to this location)
Other Searches (basically all other types of searches either related to an address or city, as well as anything that doesn’t fall into the brand or category searches)
Place Card Insights (shown below) show data about what happens once a user views your Place Card and the types of actions they take.
You can see the number of views and taps to action buttons on your Place Card. This data is likely the most valuable of the Insights as it shows how many potential customers you are driving to your business.
Remember, local SEO doesn’t just happen on Google
What happens if your business’s Google rankings start to decline? Investing heavily in one search ecosystem has its benefits, but smart businesses know to cover their bases so that their success doesn’t hinge upon a single platform or algorithm.
That’s why it’s important to continuously monitor and refine your listings to ensure accuracy and effectively engage potential customers—whether they’re on Apple Maps, Yelp, Google Maps, or another local platform. Now that you’ve gotten started, continue analyzing the performance of your listing and adapt your strategies as needed to stay ahead. By staying proactive and responsive, you can maximize your business's local SEO potential.
Krystal Taing - Global Director of Pre-sales Solutions, Uberall Krystal Taing is the Global Director of Pre-sales Solutions at Uberall. She is a Google Business Profile Platinum Product Expert and faculty member at LocalU. She helps brands at managing hybrid customer experiences.