If “citations” are the new link than it appears that georeferences are the new citation.
Geotagging of photos, a common georeferenced data type, is gradually making its way into the mainstream. There has been a clear and steady integration of the technology into consumer products and a growing consumer awareness of the feature. Android and iPhone now automatically geocode images and iPhoto has recently been upgraded to include the ability to geocode photos. This all is making it easier for end users to learn about and implement geotagging in their personal workflow.
In a late 2006 piece, When will GeoCoding impact Local Search? I noted that it might be 5 years before geotagging of images was widely adopted throughout the marketplace and it had significant impact on local search. We are definitely well along that path.
Flickr and Panoramio have long had the capacity to geotag and display these images in a mapping context. The use of georeferenced data sets is rapidly increasing across the Internet and particularly within Google products. Google Maps added the capability to show geotagged photos in a given area. Google has added geotagging to Blogger and Maps has long been indexing KML files & the related photos for georeferences. Clearly Google Maps & Earth like end user generated georeferenced data and photos.
Now however, business listings within Google Maps are boldly showing geotagged images within the User Content area of the listing. It appears that Google Map’s actually loves geotagged photos when they come from Panoramio and there is every reason to believe that it is helpful in Maps ranking.
Having an image like the above included in your business listing at Google involves a few simple steps:
First post the image to Panoramio. A user account is required.
If the image is not already geotagged when it is uploaded then you must go through the steps to do so within Panoramio.
You should add the business name to the photo title and business name & street address to the comments. This will allow the image to be clustered correctly with with your Google Business listing.
A note will appear indicating that the photo needs to be approved before inclusion in Google Earth. From my experiments it takes roughly 4 weeks for these images to show up in a Google Maps business listing and one presumes that not all images are approved.
There has not been testing to determine if in fact the quantity and quality of references showing in the “User Content” tab affects ranking. But given their highlighted position it is likely that Google is signally their importance. If “citations” are the new link than it appears that georeferences are the new citation.
Regardless of any impact on ranking, the size of the included image confers a certain visual authority and stature to the business record in and of its own. It is “buried” within the record and not that many folks will see it but the effort is minimal. There is the added benefit that the image will also be included in Google Earth and in the general Google Maps image search.