People at our office often use the phrase, “It’s Google’s world and we’re just living in it!”
I’m one of them — but I also think the Google’s world isn’t so bad. My favorite Google app is definitely Google Maps, and today I’ll be sharing a few features that help me plan my week, day and sometimes hour.
1. Popular Times
When you’re viewing a location’s Google My Business profile, you can scroll down past the general information to view the level of foot traffic at the establishment by the day and hour. It shows you a cute little graph that represents how busy it can be at any particular time. If you look at the screenshot below, you’ll notice that the current time (of my screenshot) is highlighted in pink. This is a LIVE look at how busy GoodLife Fitness’s Liberty Village location is at 4:58 PM on a Wednesday. According to Google, it’s “a little busy” but not as busy as it usually is at this time. If anyone asks, I use this everyday to plan my gym run.
You can also look ahead in time to help plan your weekend. Maybe you’ve been cruising Tinder and have a date to set-up, but you don’t want to bring your date to a bar only to a see a massive line outside. Certain bars or restaurants will have drastically different foot traffic on any given day (as shown by my plug of Baro Toronto, a delicious new Latin themed restaurant on King West). Once again, if anyone asks, I regularly plan dates — but never using Tinder.
I haven’t been able to figure out when or how Google chooses to present this feature, but, on the odd local listing, Google will allow you to verify how busy a location is. I accidentally stumbled upon the example below, the Drake Hotel in the King West area of Toronto, when looking up the most recent girlfriend drama of Drake, the rapper. When this feature is available, you’ll see an option to click ‘Correct?’ Afterwards, you’ll be directed to a separate page (right screenshot) where you can choose whether or not the Popular Times feature is accurate, less busy or busier than the live data is displaying.
2. Public Transit
We’ve all been there — you’re ready to leave the office but you’re wondering if you’ll make it to the bus stop on time. Well, Google Maps has you covered. At any time, you can open up the app and and click on the little blue “directions” button in the bottom right corner. From there, you’ll want to move over to the transit option. This screen shows you the next three departures in every direction (or all available directions).
Let’s say you always take the 26 bus heading west on Dupont, so you click through to that specific schedule. You’ll now see the next 12 scheduled buses and when they are expected to arrive. You look at your inbox and decide that the 4:01 PM is your bus, so you click through again and it takes you to the 4:01 bus’s specific schedule. You can now see when you’re expected to arrive at your stop.
3. Near Me
Google has been focusing their efforts on Local SEO for some time now, and there has been a significant increase in searches that contain the keyword string “near me.” Therefore, to improve the user experience, Google has implemented a “near me” area within the Google Maps app.
After opening the app, you’ll want to click on the search bar. You’ll see a drop down with a brief list of services. Clicking “MORE” will take you to a full list of services, which is optimized based on your location. My personal favorite is “PARKING.” Finding street parking in downtown Toronto (speaking of local SEO) can be a nightmare at the best of times — and I quite often have to open up Google Maps and search for the closest paid parking lot. Please note that I always pull over, park and turn my car off before using my mobile device.
To be honest, I haven’t even scratched the surface here. Google Maps seems to change every other week, so I’ll make sure I update this blog regularly moving forward.
The best time to play around with the app is while you’re using public transit and have nothing else to do. You’ll be amazed and what you’ll stumble upon.