Apple Watch: The Local Search Game Changer

Article originally authored by Ciara McDonnell.

On September 9th 2014, after years of speculation, Apple finally unveiled their answer to a smartphone watch, dubbed quite simply, Apple Watch. The Apple Watch, scheduled for worldwide release in early 2015, is a game changer to the industry – features include fitness apps, Apple Pay, Siri, messages, music, internet – and maps.

What’s so special about the maps app?

The maps app alone is outstanding when paired with the Apple Watch features, but coupled with its ability to perform local search and provide turn-by-turn navigation on your wrist, is when I really sat up and began to take notice.

“We have found a way to give technology a more human touch. Literally. It’s called the Taptic Engine, a linear actuator inside Apple Watch that produces haptic feedback,” the Apple Watch website says.

In plain and simple English, the smartwatch has the capability to quite literally tap you on the wrist. This is essentially the most interesting and distinctive feature about the Apple Watch. It allows the smartwatch to essentially buzz when you’re supposed to turn – providing a different sensation for each direction whether it’s right or left. This means users don’t have to glance down at their wrist and adjust their eyesight to determine the directions.

Apple Watch

Not only will users be able to experience the haptic feedback while using the maps app, but they will also gain access to the Digital Crown – a high-tech version of the traditional watch knob that will “allow you to zoom and scroll nimbly and precisely, without obstructing your view” the Apple Watch website says.

As the screen on the watch is small, the pinch-to-zoom functionality that is featured on other iOS devices would obscure the view and the digital crown eliminates that concern.

Impact on local search

What we do know is that Apple Watch will inevitably increase the number and frequency of hyper local searches, making it even more paramount for businesses to have a mobile site. As well, opting into local search, geo-targeting and various “on the go” offers like mobile coupons will give companies a competitive edge in search.

Wearers of the watch, we expect, will be looking for companies in close proximity to their exact location, so it’s critical for businesses to have a complete profile on Google Maps through the Google My Business set up. To search using the watch, the only option is dictation – there is no option to pull up a keyboard. People don’t talk or ask questions out loud the way we do when we use a keyboard to search. I wouldn’t turn around to a friend and ask “Topshop Queen St Toronto” and expect them to list out various options for me to choose – exact location, opening hours etc. Because of this, it’s essential that companies optimize for conversational keywords and search phrases people might use when utilizing Siri and optimize less for to-the-point keywords and phrases.

Businesses should optimize not only for Google but also for Bing as the search functionality conducted by Siri is fulfilled by Bing. Although Siri isn’t used that often on iOS devices currently, we can expect that organic search traffic, impressions and click-through rates will increase through Bing as users take advantage of the voice search feature embedded into the watch.

Taking full advantage of Catalysts 5 Simple Local SEO Tips and coupling those with Voice Search SEO is a good place for companies to start when transitioning into local search. According to analyst firm Canalys, the Apple Watch will make up the majority of wearable devices in 2015 making the reach and implications for companies and search gigantic. Local SEO has many advantages and opting in now before the smartwatch release will give companies a distinct advantage.

What’s next for Apple Watch?

A flash survey conducted straight after the announcement on September 9th 2014, revealed that 33% of the 1,000 respondents would be interested in purchasing the new Apple Watch. Although there was no mention of maps within the survey, I am confident that once the product is launched, it will become the most used feature of the Apple Watch.

What do you think about the Apple Watch? Can you see yourself wearing one? Will the Apple Watch change the way you conduct your search marketing efforts? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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