How Does Google My Maps Work?
When users land on the My Maps homepage, they are immediately prompted to either create a new map or open an existing saved map.
They can begin searching for location-based businesses and begin adding them to their maps.
See a search for "Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA" below.
Next, they can add specific locations to the maps.
Once they have added a few different locations, they are able to connect maps to form a route and even determine the exact distance between locations.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability to add descriptions of locations as well as images. Currently, users cannot upload images, but they can do Google image searches or enter specific URLs.
Once users have completed their maps, they can share them publically, keep them private or provide access to select users.
What Does This Mean for Local Search?
Perhaps the biggest potential impact on local search is tied to the ability to create "experience" maps that include information about businesses.
For example, if Seattle-based Café Campagne wanted to draw in consumers, it could simply create a "Tour of Pike Place Market" map. This map could include a morning starting with the best stores to find art, clothing, etc. and end with a fantastic lunch at the café.
There is definitely opportunity for businesses to utilize My Maps to their benefit. It will just take some creativity and additional effort to drive users to them via local search.