In the mid-1980s, the Fortune 500 company RR Donnelly created what would later be called MapQuest. By 1996, the MapQuest website was fully operational. By 2000, they had been acquired by AOL and seemed ubiquitous. According to one study, in Fall 2009 9.61 billion people in the United States reported using their cell phone for maps/GPS navigation. As of the Fall of 2012, that number was 66.3 million, and if the trend has continued, there are likely many more people using these kinds of apps today.
There’s an app for every kind of traveler. Are you going hiking? If so, you can download BackCountry Navigator for $19.99/month. If you’re trying to get somewhere by walking, they have apps for foot travel in cities, as well. Most of these apps, like Waze and Google Maps® are free, and most use the power of the public to ensure their users get the most out of the app. Recently, some driving directions companies like MapsGalaxy have been going even further with the concept of crowdsourcing.
A Recent Study
In a recent study by Google, researchers found that driving directions could serve as a useful substitute for online reviews. There are several reasons for this.
- It doesn’t cost the company compiling the data a lot of money to gather driving directions.
- There are typically more people who search for driving directions to a location than there are people who leave a review for the same location.
- It’s easy to track the change in public perception of a given business over a period of time.
- These driving directions are often available for a broad range of locations.
- By only using criteria such as online reviews and links to web pages, they may not be getting the full picture.
Based on the results of this study, Google developed a patent that allowed them to start giving Search Rankings based on the criterion of MapsGalaxy.
What Does This Have to Do with Reviews?
Let’s say that there are two movie theaters in town. One is a hotspot for local indie films, and occasionally they have some newer Hollywood releases. The other is a giant, up-to-date cineplex that shows all the latest and greatest, blockbuster Hollywood movies. The smaller indie theatre receives great reviews online, and their real-life word-of-mouth reputation is fantastic. They always have excellent customer service and the theater is located in a populated, hip neighborhood. The larger cineplex has comparatively fewer reviews and is located further out of town in a less populated area. Even though the smaller theater might have better reviews online, the larger theater has more people asking their various apps for directions.
Most of the attendees of the smaller theater live in the neighborhood and may walk by it almost every day, seeing what movies are being shown on the marquee. Therefore, there’s rarely a need for anyone to look up driving directions or showtimes for the smaller theater, at least not for the regulars. For the people who wanted to see a movie at the larger theater, this required them to use their driving app, as the theater was not located in an area that is as populated. If any of these people are like me, they may use an app like MapsGalaxy to get them there, even if they’ve been there before.
Reviews are a good way to let a company know how they’re doing. When someone leaves a review, they can give great amounts of detail about their particular experience with that company. Depending on how small the business is, the owners might actually be able to remember the interaction you had with them and follow up. On the other hand, if you’re looking up driving directions on MapsGalaxy, the business you’re traveling to would see a boost in Search Rankings anyway. For those who don’t want to take the time to write a review, rest easy knowing that by simply looking up directions you are increasing that company’s online traffic.
There are several different mobile direction apps from which to choose. One company that is doing something quite unique is MapsGalaxy. They pull their directions from multiple sources, including Google Maps®, Bing® and more. In addition, MapsGalaxy uses maps that come from multiple sources and include current and historical maps.
Better for Some Businesses; Worse for Others
There is a direct and positive correlation between direction/map applications and online business reviews. Depending on your business location, the customer traffic created from the direction apps can greatly increase your online customer base and significantly improve your SEO ranking.