Considering the time you spend optimizing your website for specific keywords and Google searches, the latest updates to Google and Apple maps might have you back at the drawing boards for a new optimization strategy. Local SEO, defined as “an effective way to market your business online to people conducting local searches”, is a crucial tactic in beating your competitors and increasing traffic to your site.

Back in 2016, Google Map and Apple Map listings added two new components that made local SEO strategies rise to the top:

  • “Areas of Interest” highlights exciting parts of a city that have a high concentration of restaurants, bars and shops. This feature will benefit your business if you’re located within Google’s selected area of interest. If you don’t get listed in a popular area, don’t fret just yet!
  • “Place Labels” is a feature that surfaces major landmarks, businesses and tourist attractions; utilize your best SEO practices to earn a label.

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Areas of Interest

To access Areas of Interest, all you have to do is open your Google Map (or Apple Map) application and look for the pale orange coloring on the map. These are your city hot spots. Google and Apple have identified these areas as high concentrations of popular shops and restaurants; having your business in these identified areas seem to have quite an advantage.

What impact could this have on the travel industry? Search Engine Watch claims that around 41% of internet users use Google Maps to get directions, search locations, and for other miscellaneous way-finding information. Since businesses cannot do anything to earn or affect an Area of Interest location, Google holds some power when it comes to influencing the everyday tourist. Travelers who want to book a hotel in a city hot spot will be nudged towards locations within these Areas of Interest, which could negatively affect businesses outside the simple pale shade of orange.


Place Labels

Place Labels are features within the Google Maps and Apple Maps applications that show popular landmarks, businesses, and tourist attractions as icons within a zoomed-in view of a specific location. Since all the icons are clickable, users can find out more information about the location, such as directions, reviews, phone number, etc.

While Areas of Interest are determined solely by Google, Place Labels can be earned by businesses with strong Local SEO presence and quality reputation management.

Now you might be asking, what can I do to get labeled? Here are a few strategies to consider first:

  • Ensure your business’ NAP Accuracy across all mediums (Name/Address/Phone)
  • Verify your business on your Google My Business listing
  • Add rich content to your business listing

Businesses need rich and engaging content in order to earn a Place Label, and having a high quantity and quality of reviews is one factor that will help maintain valuable content. Encourage consumers to leave a review, and then respond to it! Show the world you are engaged with your consumers and are willing to build a relationship. Add photos and videos to your listing, and show off your most valuable assets.


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BrightLocal has identified that 91% of consumers read reviews to determine whether or not a local business is worth patronizing. If you didn’t think reviews were important, think again.

Google’s latest updates have given obvious advantages to businesses within these hot spots, on top of allowing them the opportunity to earn a listing of their own. Local SEO is becoming the newest way to win customers and encourage people to visit your business. Google has proven that you need to stay on top of your business listings to get noticed, and with strategies like “Areas of Interest” and “Place Labels”, you’ll be beating out your competitors in no time.