Google Maps Business Record: A journey in search of accuracy

Earlier today EarlPearl asked the question: Where is the information turning up erroneously? in the comments section of my write-up of the business record in Maps that contained so many errors.

While EarlPearl intended the question in its simplest form it triggered a thought experiment for me. Where could it be wrong? I came up with the following list of possiblities:

•Authoritative OneBox
•Local 10-Pack
•Maps List view
•Maps Expanded View #1
•Maps Expanded View #2 (More Details)
•Organic Search Results w/ Plus Box

The answer was illustrative. For a period this afternoon the record was visible in most of those places with a surpising degree of variability. Unfortunately I didn’t do screen captures of each of them but I have my notes:

Source
Accuracy Details
Authoritative OneBox Accurate
Local 10-Pack wrong phone number (248) 746-0037
Maps List view Accurate
Maps Expaneded View #1 Accurate
Maps Expanded View #2 Many Errors Mostly from Details Section
Organic Search Results w/Plus Box NA No plus box

Much of the information that was showing was information that I had recently entered in the LBC and was accurate: website, business name, accurate phone number, street address, Suite info (added yesterday). These pieces of information had not really been available to Google until last week.

All of the inaccurate information had come from referenced links on the details page. What was surprising was that the Authoritative OneBox had accurate results yet the listing in the Local 10-Pack had an erroneous phone number.

Most of the bad information appears to have come from references in the details section of the business record in Maps. Whatever caused those details to be associated with the record was 1) the source of the bad info and 2)being given precedence over Local Business Center data in the Local 10-Pack (and elsewhere). None of those other references in the details section of the local record had any mention of Dr. Schubiner and most (with the exception of the Carbondale, IL Doctor) were about Providence Hospital.

Curiouser and curioser. I did create a post at the Google Groups Maps for Business titled Local Record of MInd Body Pain Clinic taking on a life of its own. Stay tuned for Goolge’s answer.

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Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps Business Record: A journey in search of accuracy by

11 thoughts on “Google Maps Business Record: A journey in search of accuracy”

  1. Mike -
    Your Google Groups post made me laugh.

    I have never been very clear on what the perceived added value is of those details page details. Sources seems random and I’m not sure how helpful the information is. It’s presented kind of confusingly, don’t you think?

    I really hope you do get a Maps guide answer, Mike. I’ll stay tuned on this one!
    Miriam

  2. Mike,

    I have noticed similar errors in the Google local listings for attorneys. It reduces useability and relevance of local search when Google pollutes good business profile date with bad info culled from various databases.

  3. Hi John

    Yes the errors are pervasive and it does reduce usability.

    I am hoping though that Google doesn’t say “we didn’t work on THAT problem for 18 months because it didn’t have an impact on the end use experience.” As we have seen with the previous medical record issues the maps could send emegency room visits the wrond way or inundate a secretary with unnecessary calls…

    In this case the bad phone number did show up (although temporarily) in the Local 10-Pack.

    Mike

  4. Hi Miriam

    That’s a good question. I think it is (was?) Google’s hope to provide things like specialty etc on Doctors etc. At least in the medical field they end up using such disparate choices and link them so innaccurately that they have little accuracy and no value.

    Mike

  5. Miriam

    Here is an example of possibly “appropriate” use of the detail – Sugeon Orchard Park NY.

    In this case I think that Google got the practice members accurate.

    the problem seems to stem from a link between the address, multiple offices at that location and some web signals that indicate that they should elevate the importance of certain of the those signals to the “detail” level. They then “forget” to give priority to the LBC when that happens.

    I can’t wait unitl they have my personal medical record. US medical costs per capita will go from 2.5x Europe’s to who knows how high….ah the gains from technology. :)

  6. Mike:

    Should Google cleanse the records and information on behalf of both you and your client, that would be one small step for “pain control” but I don’t think it would be a giant step for anyone.

    The root issue as you describe might well be the root signals from various sources that infiltrate the listing and add information from unknown sources.

    How confusing. If it stems from addresses in which there are multiple offices in a building…then it certainly merits correction.

    I wonder why entering data in the LBC doesn’t take precedence?

    I suppose there are many ways to “spam” the LBC and enter data from a source that doesn’t represent the owner/webmaster. Still it seems that entering data from the LBC should be the dominant source and take precedence over all other information.

    It would be neat and helpful if Google would comment upon this. Even better would be a fix. ;)

    I suppose it is illuminating into how Google thinks in seeing where the erroneous information appears and where it doesn’t.

    I just don’t get it. So many engineers, so much brain power….so little effort at correcting the problems.

    Dave

  7. Try this organic search. (It is pretty indicative of the problems with maps) ;)

    search for customer service (any city). Depending on the city you might find a 10 pack map

    Did you know that Google’s headquarters are in Mountain View, California.

    Repeat the search for customer service Mountain View, California

    ;) Not surprising. Google doesn’t make the top 10 in the 10 pack.

    Dave

  8. Mike,
    Thanks for the link to the other listing. Well…I guess that is more accurate, but I find it unnecessary clutter. All I can see those external links doing is taking the user off maps in some practically arbitrary direction…to a directory, or some page of a hospital, or something truly irrelevant.

    It makes me think of something, though. I was speaking to you Yahoo local rep this week, and I asked him to describe to me the value of paying $9.95 for their more enhanced local listing service.

    He said that one of the benefits was that it locks your registered information in as the authority source, but that otherwise, your information may be overwritten by data from an outside source (one of the places Yahoo is scraping from).

    I found this very interesting that money paid per month can lock out exterior data and presumably, eliminate the kind of error and clutter we are seeing in Google.

    Had you heard of this before, Mike?

    Dave – You surely are right.
    Miriam

  9. Hi Miriam

    I certainly was not defending the use of the “details” area. I would agree that it provides little actual benefit to searcher, too deep, too far afield….I look at it at a debugging report that gives some insight into Google’s bad data.

    I had not heard the Yahoo statement. That is very interesting, a certain conflict of interest but interesting. It is surprising that that info is not noted in their materials on line, is it? It would allow “pay for play” business title optimization. It may need to come to that at Google as well. hmm…

    Mike

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