Ten years ago, would you have thought that everyone would be carrying a GPS (global positioning system) in their pocket? Now that everyone and their grandmother are walking around with smartphones, the day has come--your partner, friends, and every random app you give permission to knows where you are at any time.
For years Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and now Apple have been building their own database of maps. Lists of restaurants, services, and "places of interests" for users to scour. Add in companies like Yelp and Foursquare, which populated their databases using crowd-sourced listings, there is a whole lot of location and listing data to compete with the traditional Yellow Pages directory.
For any business, one of the key worries is: "How do customers find us?" In the past, the Yellow Pages was the only directory, and the question was whether you wanted to pay to stand out within it. Now, while it is a bit of a hassle, every business should take the time to add their information to the various providers and ensure that the information is up to date.
The applications that pull from the different map databases typically are used by customers in the nearby vicinity and, thus, more likely to immediately visit your business. For example, using Nokia's City Lens (a program on their Lumia phones), a user launches the app, selects "Nearby", and points of interest are listed, including which direction and how far they are located from where the user is. Foursquare works similarly. Click on the "Explore" button and nearby places are shown, sorted by what seems popular based on the number of tips and likes.
Of course entering your data also helps "juice" search engines--more listings via these different sites that link back to your site means higher search ranking and, thus, more chance of being seen via search. Additionally, since Foursquare, Yelp, and possibly the others let developers utilize their location database, the exposure in additional apps can be useful.
Get listed, get discovered!