Updated 9:00 am 1/18
One of the on-going problems confronting any local search environment is the difficulty of keeping local data fresh. The many gyrations and the long path of local data before it actually shows up in Google Maps almost guarantees a persistent accuracy problem.
Imagine though local sites that are closer to the end user and with “fresher” data feeding that data in real time into a Google My Maps environment. The implications are significant as RSS feeds from local sites provide a way to provide a potential layer in Maps that is “guaranteed fresh”. (Credit goes to Greg Sterling for providing insight & clarity on this point.)
Well it appears that Google Maps is allowing a limited number of “trusted” partners to provide exactly such feeds directly into My Maps. Merchant Circle with reviews and coupons and Topix with news are providing RSS feeds of their data to Google Maps via My Maps.
Here is a screen shot of a Merchant Circle Coupon feed from Indianapolis that shows up in Google My Maps:
At the bottom of the feed this disclaimer appears:Displaying content from feed.merchantcircle.com The content overlaid onto this map is provided by a third party, and Google is not responsible for it.
To view this feed in Maps just click here: Local Activity for Indianapolis, IN. There appear to be similar feeds for every city that MerchantCircle covers. Just to clarify, these results from the feeds are showing up, mixed in with standard Community Map results. It is conceivable to me that at some point they will be further blended with standard Map results in the future. For example if you searched on Dr Joeâ€™s Chiropractic Center Idaho Falls Id you will find one of the pins from the feed mixed into the results.
Topix.com also seems to be providing feeds of news stories (see screen capture below) which offers up the interesting possibility of viewing news stories through a geo specific lens.
The feeds can be added to a user’s My Maps collection. Here is a screen shot of a MerchantCircle review (hint: read the review to understand why we so need the immediacy of RSS in Google Maps )from a feed that had been thus saved: