There’s not much published on the Web about how to rank well in Apple Maps. While the nature of a mobile map result makes “ranking” sort of an ephemeral thing – the order & radius of results will vary depending on the searcher’s physical location – there are a factors that seem to most positively correlate with showing up prominently in Apple Maps:
• Category relevance to query
• Keyword in business name
• Proximity to searches’ centroid (user’s and/or city’s)
• Yelp & Other Providers’ Meta Data – It’s very unclear how important reviews are for rankings, but they likely affect CTR. Meta data like Price rating, hours, etc are important.
Of these perhaps the most confounding is “Category relevance to query”. This is because Apple Maps does not appear to do a lot of keyword-to-category mapping. For example, here’s a shot of an Apple Maps desktop result for “hot dog”:
But look what happens when I change the query to “best hot dog”:
Apple Maps knows “hot dog” is a restaurant category and brings up a set of hot dog restaurants for the query. It doesn’t understand that “best” is a modifier of “hot dog” so instead it treats it like a business name search and it looks for businesses that have “best” in their names and are in a category related to hot dogs. In this case the two businesses listed are both in the “Sandwiches” category.
Some modifiers appear to be driven by Yelp’s meta data. For example, this query for “cheap hot dogs” brings on $ and $$ (pricing data from Yelp) businesses in the Hot Dogs category:
But what happens when Apple Maps doesn’t have a mapping of the query modifier to a category. Check out this result for “delicious hot dog”:
In this case, Apple Maps decided that “delicious hot dog” was a geo-query so it sent me to Calle Delicias in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. I’m not sure why. “Delicias” is close to “delicious”, and “Mayaguez” is kind of close to “merguez” which is a type of sausage so…
The moral of the story: Stop stressing that you don’t rank for various keywords in Apple Maps. Neither does anyone else.