That may seem like a “let’s throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach to marketing, but the numbers show that Google’s non-stop effort to promote Google Maps is working. However, I suspect it’s much more to do with what Google is doing in its main SERPs than any of the above marketing ideas; the data seems to bear witness to that.
Heather Hopkins recently shared data on the Hitwise blog that shows Google Maps is the #5 Google property in terms of traffic, accounting for 1.56% of all visits to Google properties. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a substantial jump over numbers from 14 months ago.
Before you look at the current chart, though, let’s go back to November, 2006, and follow the growth of Google Maps from then to now.
Hitwise: November 25, 2006
The above is a Hitwise chart from late November, 2006, which shows Google Maps accounting for less than 1% of all visits to Google sites. To put this in perspective, according to the chart above, only one out of every 100 Google visitors went to Google Maps. Let’s fast forward about six months:
Hitwise: June 2, 2007
The above is a similar chart from Hitwise comparing May 12 with June 2, 2007. We’ll use the June 2 data, which shows Google Maps accounting for 1.42% of all Google visits. To continue to comparison from above, at this point one of every 49 Google visitors went to Google Maps — that’s a huge jump from late 2006. Why the increase? In early 2007, Google made a dramatic change in showing Maps content in its regular Google.com SERPs. That was followed a couple months later by further Maps integration thanks to Universal Search. And finally, here’s the chart Hitwise just posted last week:
Hitwise: January 26, 2008
The above shows Google Maps now getting 1.56% of all visits to Google properties, only a small jump from June, 2007. But it’s still progress: At this point, Google Maps now accounts for one of every 45 visits to a Google property.
Will Google Maps Continue to Grow?
In all likelihood, it will. The most recent Hitwise chart doesn’t take into account the recent change Google made to show 10 results from Google Maps on many Google.com searches. A Google spokesperson told Greg Sterling that the new display is designed specifically to promote usage of Google Maps:
Google said today that the reason it’s showing more links is because usability testing revealed that many people didn’t realize there was additional local content available beyond the three listings, despite the “more results …” prompt. Accordingly, Google said that with the 10 links it is hoping to signal people that there is much more local content a click away.
When Google made the original big change a year ago to show more Google Maps listings on Google.com, traffic to Google Maps jumped 26% in one month. Here’s another Hitwise chart showing that spike:
Here’s hoping Hitwise produces another chart like this one a few weeks from now so we can see the impact of Google’s most recent effort to lead more people into Google Maps.