The Impact of Custom Digital Maps on Search Engine Optimization

October 27, 2020 by Nick Vuoto

seo custom digital maps

At their core, custom digital maps are simple. They are designed to better showcase physical spaces, allowing for digital audiences to find the right space and get the right information. That was the core premise when, Concept3D, first started building 3D-rendered maps a decade ago.

We’ve certainly come a long way since then. Today, interactive maps are powerful marketing tools, in more ways than one. Yes, they still showcase physical spaces. But they also help to communicate brand promises, outline broader complex, and help in anything from higher education admissions to HR talent recruitment.

Add search engine optimization to that list. SEO is the key to many of today’s most important digital marketing concepts, in no small part due to the fact that the world’s most popular websites are predominantly search engines. If you can place your website high in the results of relevant searches, you’re in good shape.

And here’s the thing: your digital map can actually help to boost your SEO. For a variety of reasons, it can help you leverage the map as content that drives more visitors, and improves your Google results. Let’s dig into both why that matters, and how it works.

The Central Nature of SEO in Modern Digital Marketing

Let’s start with a basic exploration of SEO, and its place in digital marketing today. When most consumers and business buyers begin their buyer’s journey, they start on a search engine. Typing in a relevant keyword leads them to a number of results related to their industry and query. If your website is part of those results, you have their attention.

There’s almost no way around this process. Search engines are the single biggest traffic source for any website in any niche, across every industry. The same study found that Google alone drives eight times more traffic than all major social media networks combined.

To be found, though, you have to make it to the first page of Google result. And that process is incredibly complex, often taking months and even years thanks to more than 200 factors influencing the rankings for any keyword. Just a sampling of these ranking factors includes:

  • The age and authority of your domain
  • Accessibility of your website in relation to disabilities
  • Your website’s speed and reliability
  • The prevalence of the keyword in your content, domain name, and metadata
  • The user experience of visitors to your site
  • Mobile and device optimization to make for a ubiquitously positive experience

We could keep going. The point: SEO might be the single most crucial piece of modern digital marketing, but it’s undoubtedly the most complex. Any effort to help improve it should be a major priority for businesses looking to leverage their website for brand awareness, leads, and customers.

4 Ways Concept3D Custom Digital Maps Can Boost SEO

That’s where we get to interactive maps. We’ll start with an important note: Concept3D built its maps not specifically to rank on Google and other search engines, but to help businesses showcase their physical spaces. And yet, through that process and a few other factors, these maps actually do have a positive impact on your SEO.

custom digital map

More specifically, we’ve found three distinct ways in which our custom digital maps can boost your SEO.

1) An Accessible Digital Experience

We’re committed to web accessibility in all of our custom digital maps. Some of that happens on the surface, such as helping our clients build wheelchair-accessible routes for their wayfinding tools. Much of it, though, is more technical in nature.

We’ve detailed some of these efforts below the surface in a recent LinkedIn series and blog summary on accessibility within the Concept3D platform:

  • Our platform uses semantic HTML to attach meaning to every interaction that happens within the map. That includes enabling screen readers to get information across, correctly labeling elements like buttons, and making sure it’s all coded using ARIA attributes
  • Through our platform, clients can make inclusive design choices that ease the use for various disabilities. That might include anything from voice controls to the aforementioned screen reader integrations.

All the above, at and below the surface, makes perfect sense from a user perspective. But here’s the thing: it also happens to help your SEO efforts. As search thought leader Moz notes in a recent article series, the overlap between accessibility and SEO is significant. You don’t necessarily optimize for one by optimizing for the others, but the signals don’t exist in isolation.

Again, that makes intuitive sense. Search engines like Google, after all, win when the user finds what they’re looking for. Internet users with disabilities use the internet as much as those without. Prioritizing accessible resources and links, like our digital maps, is a natural conclusion.

2) A Map Designed for Browsers, not Devices

Let’s face it: virtual maps and tours can come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to find a great interactive map that acts as a standalone app, leveraging the extra resources ostensibly available through this delivery choice for a more in-depth experience.

The downsides, though, are just as (if not significantly more) steep. A map designed for a specific app or device cannot cross over devices, and it’s not automatically available. In other words, a device would need to download the app first before using it; tough luck if you’ve looked at the map on an iPad but now need it on your phone.

Just as significant is the SEO implication. The fact that Concept3D apps are browser-based means they can be crawled and indexed by search engines. In layman’s terms, that means sites like Google treat them as standalone pages, which has a few significant implications:

  • The map can appear on search engine results for relevant searches.
  • Content within the map can be optimized for specific keywords.
  • The map, if set up correctly, can help the domain authority of the website to which it’s attached.

That last point is worth diving into further.

3) A Domain Strategy to Preserve Domain Authority

Search engines like Google rely on hundreds of ranking factors, but many of them come down to domain authority. In other words, they will trust websites more (and rank them higher) if these sites are credible, and have plenty of others linking to them.

Domain authority as an SEO concept is too complex to discuss in depth here. The important thing to realize for marketers is that it’s a website-wide concept, meaning that all the individual pages on your site can contribute to your overall authority.

That’s why our implementation recommendation for clients always includes leveraging CNAME records. CNAMEs, short for canonical names, are aliases that ensure different parts of a website always connect to each other, and always lead back to the same overall domain.

That last piece is why we make it such a strong recommendation. Concept3D digital maps can be implemented so that they add to your website’s domain authority instead of detracting from it. Links to your map help all pages on your website rank better, and vice versa.

4) Relevant Content to Build Link Networks

Finally, it’s important to consider how the simple fact that your interactive map is a relevant piece of content can connect to your search engine optimization efforts. SEO, after all, is built on relevant content first and foremost. When you have it, you have two types of opportunities related to link building:

  • External links, which are links from other websites to yours. A local college or university might have external links from the local tourism board, athletic association, and more. 
  • Internal links, which are links that point from one section of your website to another. You might want to link to your map from your homepage, About Us page, or even your visit/reservation pages.

Both types of links are significant ranking factors, informing search engines about the credibility and relevance of your website. The mere fact that you’re building this relevant content within your website structure can pay significant dividends in your long-term SEO efforts.

Just the Facts: The Concept3D Map-SEO Connection

Sum up the above four points, and the conclusion is clear: when built the right way, custom digital maps can play a role in improving your SEO efforts. 

That’s not a hypothetical conclusion, either. We’ve seen it happen with our own clients. In fact, one year after their launch, more than 95% of our higher education clients see their Concept3D campus map rank on the first page of search results for a search of their campus map. For 85%, it actually appears in the first spot.

Make no mistake: your primary reason for building interactive maps should still be sharing your location and providing relevant information to your stakeholders. At the same time, marketing has taken a prominent secondary role. And, as we’ve outlined throughout this guide, SEO can actually become a part of that equation.

Now, you just need to get there. Concept3D has experience and expertise across a variety of industries, and we’d love to work with you. Contact us to start the conversation about building and optimizing your own digital map. 

Topics: AccessibilityCampus MapDigital MapsInteractive 3D Map

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