Apple’s recent announcement of the new Apple Maps feature officially puts an end to their Google Maps relationship on all new iOS devices. Their new maps product, which Apple developed from scratch and comes pre-installed in iOS 6, promises more accurate local business listings and driving directions, and a clean and crisp “Siri” look. With its release later this year, Apple Maps creates serious local search competition with Google. This is the latest in Apple and Google’s clash for mobile phone users.

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‘More Listings than Google’

According to Bloomberg, Apple has announced that although their Maps app is not due for release until fall, it already has 20 million more listings than Google. Their local business information comes from sources like TomTom and LocalEze, as well as OpenStreetMap and Yelp listings. The beta version still has to be populated with data, but once complete, Apple promises users access to updated local listings, accurate driving directions, millions of user reviews and available deals. Whether or not businesses will have full control over their listings will be discovered once the product launches this fall.

Local businesses may prepare their listings for these changes by optimizing their Yelp listings. If all of the information will come from Yelp listings, that will provide businesses more control over their information, making Apple Maps a more reliable source of information than its Google Maps predecessor.

The Competition: Google+ Local

Apple’s announcement of its new Maps feature coincides with Google’s announcement that they are replacing Google Places with Google+ Local. Since the launch of Google+ and Google+ Pages for Business, those engaged in local search waited for the integration of Google Places with their profiles. This new update gives businesses more power over their listings because their verified business profiles will appear all over Google – in their search results, Maps and mobile applications.

Google+ Local gives users access to free reviews from Zagat and a Circles filter feature, which will show reviews and recommendations from other Google+ users and colleagues. The Zagat 30-point rating also provides accurate insight on each establishment. They use numeric ratings instead of a five-star scale, which Yelp still uses today. This prevents every rating from staying at just 3.5 stars. The Google+ Local pages also provide more images and personalized results for users, displaying local listings people from their circles have previously reviewed.

Their listings feature all this information across all platforms, whether on SERPs, Google+ Local page searches, or when using Google Maps on any Android phone. The verification process require for Google+ Pages for Business accounts helps in guaranteeing more quality listings in the future, which Apple’s new Maps app has to match in order to stay in the local search arena.

What this Means for Local Search

Preparing for the arrival of Apple Maps and optimizing for Google+ Local is very important if businesses want presence in these platforms. This is especially important for Apple Maps, because the app only displays the top three listings on the first page, unlike Google’s top 10. Signing up with Yelp free, updating local business information, and encouraging customers to post reviews and rate are only some ways businesses can prepare for this new product.

Local businesses may already optimize their Google+ and Google+ Pages for Business accounts with updated information and images. Adding relevant circles and encouraging reviews and ratings also helps boost listings up the results. Constantly updating Google+ Local pages and profiles may also help prioritize local listings in the local search results pages in the future.

Is Amazon Joining the Picture?

GigaOm recently reported that Amazon purchased the 3D mapping startup company UpNext. The latest acquisition has sparked speculations about a major Kindle Fire upgrade or an Amazon smartphone featuring their own native maps application. This deal marks Amazon’s re-entry into the mapping and directory industry, and they could be potentially competing with Apple Maps and Google+ Local in the future.