Google Maps: RSS feeds of data into My Maps?

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:

merchantcircleind.jpg

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 Joe’s Chiropractic Center Idaho Falls Id you will find one of the pins from the feed mixed into the results.

drjoe.jpg

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.

tpoix.jpg

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:

reviews.jpg

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: RSS feeds of data into My Maps? by

13 thoughts on “Google Maps: RSS feeds of data into My Maps?”

  1. Mike,
    So, basically, it’s a feed coming from Merchant Circle? Am I understanding that right? And it’s from their database of whatever local activity is going on per whatever they are recording?

    Hmm…interesting. The information in the side bar seems pretty random…announcements, coupons, reviews. I’m trying to imagine a user turning to this purposefully for a specific thing if the contents are random.

    Thanks for posting this.
    Miriam

  2. Actully I think the url of any GeoRSS* (or KML) file can be loaded into the Search box, and GMaps will offer the options to save the whole feed or individual placemarks to My Maps.

    I’ve been using this function for a long time :)

    * More about GeoRSS: http://www.georss.org/ – which the feeds mentioned uses.

    Its even possible to load non Geo enabled feeds into GMaps, with a Geocoding converter, I’ve provided an interface to one here:
    http://www.nearby.org.uk/rss-to-kml.php
    (choose the Google Maps option)

  3. “Well it appears that Google Maps is allowing a limited number of “trusted” partners to provide exactly such feeds directly into My Maps. ”

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can subscribe to any geo feeds you like. Try it with http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=http:%2F%2Fapi.flickr.com%2Fservices%2Ffeeds%2Fgeo%2F%3Fid%3D35468159852%40N01&ie=UTF8&z=3&om=0

    once you click on “Save to My Maps”, it shows up in My Maps under “Created by others”.

  4. I didn’t realize that feeds were usable this way(thanks Barry & Gregor for that info) but these results are being inserted in the standard results without my using the feed or my subscribing to it in My Maps.

    Jean, I guess I didn’t understand the value of a maplet if that is the case. I have not seen results yet included in the standard Map results.

    If you search on Chiropractic Idaho Falls Id in the map view and select See community maps at the bottom you will see thiese results mixed in regardless of whether you have subscirbed to the map or not.

    Miriam, yes the feed, which you see in its entirety, comes from the source (in this case Topix or MerchantCircle) but in a real world search like the one above it would only show “relevant” pins. For example if you searched on Dr Joe’s Chiropractic Center Idaho Falls Id you will find one of the pins from the feed mixed into the results.

    How Google is going to determine “authority” of results from community maps and how they decide when and how to integrate into the standard results and whether a community mao info is included in a OneBox result are all questions for the future.
    Mike

  5. Yes Google does index GeoRSS and KML files/feeds it finds in the wild in a Geo Index, mainly accessible though the ‘See community maps’ link you mentioned. But they are used in normal search results at times (mainly when there are few or no business listings), and available in Google earth too.

    A bit more about it here:
    http://code.google.com/apis/kml/documentation/kmlSearch.html
    and http://code.google.com/apis/maps/sitemap.html

    Of course Google doest mention exactly how these are ranked, but there has been a few patent filed in this area, as well as they probably use something like the PageRank.

    Barry

  6. The feeds can be from any kml or georss source on the web, not just Mapplets. Try searching for “flickr” on Google maps as an example

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