Google recently introduced some privacy improvements which included Incognito mode for Maps. Incognito mode has been around for a while as a way to browse the internet in private, where your browsing history will not be saved. Incognito for Google Maps works in the same way, so that a user’s Google Maps activity will not be saved.

When opting for Incognito mode, the Google Maps user will not be sent personalised recommendations for local businesses based around their usage history. The Google Maps support page describes this change as providing ‘more ways to control your privacy on Google Maps’.

What does Incognito mode change?

When in Incognito mode, browsing and search history will not be saved in your account, your location history will not get updates and there will be no personalisation for Maps. This is not a way of being anonymous on the internet, despite the title giving that impression and it is designed simply to give the user more privacy controls.

By choosing to use Incognito mode, a number of the key Maps features will not be available, including Commute, Location History, For You and Your Places. The Google Assistant microphone will not be available for navigation.

How does Incognito mode impact businesses?

Businesses owners will be impacted to some extent, as some users will choose the Incognito mode and therefore not see the local business information that would be present when not in Incognito mode. However, any user that is actively wanting to find a local shop, restaurant or other service will not choose to go on Incognito mode when using Google Maps. Further to this, the user’s map activity will still be available to third parties for marketing purposes.

Top tips for businesses using Google Maps for marketing

The key to getting the most out of the marketing potential of Google Maps is to make your business as easy to find as possible. Having a very strong Google My Business listing will be vital in helping people to find your business.

Here are some ways that you can optimise your Google Maps listing:

1.Specify the areas you service
You have the option to add a service area and within here you can list the towns or cities that you service, or you can select a radius that you service based on your physical location. If you do not specify the areas you service, your listing will not show up in the top results in searches for those areas.

2. Get verified
Your business can get verified by Google, by sending you a PIN through the post. You then add the PIN into your account to become verified, boosting your ranking.

3. Ensure your address details are correct
It might seem like an obvious one but having the right address, as in the exact address that is used by your postal service, is critical to getting a high ranking. Some businesses have also made the mistake of not ticking the box that determines whether your address actually shows on the listing, so make sure that doesn’t apply to you!

4. Tick every category you cover
Rather than just ticking the one closest category, tick all the ones that are relevant to your business. Many businesses offer a range of services and you will get much better results if you include more categories.

5. Add photos
You can upload your own photos to Google My Business and by using a professional looking image, your listing will stand out from those without a good image.

6. Encourage customer reviews
The scores that you get on customer reviews will influence your ranking, so encourage customers to post reviews once you have provided them with services.

Don't like it? Turn it Off

If you don't fancy using the feature, it can be turned off in your account settings. Remember however that when you turn on Incognito mode, your Maps activity on that device, like places you search for, won't be saved to your Google Account and therefore won't be used to personalise your experience.


In Conclusion

Any businesses that are concerned that Incognito mode will affect their business should stop worrying and put more efforts into optimising Google My Business listing instead.