Google Maps Needs a Public Face

Google Maps has no real public persona that equates to Matt Cutts on the organic side of the Google house. Cutts has taken on the role of guide, teacher, disciplinarian, webmaster liason, diplomat, conveyor of the company line and industry  spokesperson for Google. You may not always agree with him but he has earned our respect.  

There is no one from the Google Maps team with the same standing in the Local community. Carter Maslan occasionally has the public interview & Jen Chin (aka Maps Guide Jen) attends conferences and is the occasional poster on local blogs and now in the Google Helps Group, Maps Guide Jade posts to the Google Maps Help Forum Announcements

Maps Guide Jade, a relatively new addition to the team, makes regular public proclamations….they tend to the cheery, energetic, over the top and occasionally polyannish statements of an enthusiastic 22 year old (I am guessing here…my age bias is showing :) ).

She tends to hyperbole and some of the statements she makes are questionable (i.e. “Google Maps is the #1 mapping destination site globally”). Others seem to me just wrong. Here is one that I noticed where she recommended that businesses make a community edit of their business rather than claim it in the LBC when making a move: 

Just moved location for your business? Or the information Yellow Page provided online isn’t quite up-to-date? No worry! The function of the user edits of business data in real time would solve your problem in no time.

I am glad that Google has decided to give Maps Guide Jen some help in the forums, every helping hand makes the job of getting an answer to pressing questions easier….but I think it is time to give Google Maps a consistent, technically oriented, mature, and measured public face with whom to communicate. My vote is for Jen but if not her then someone else that is given the ability to speak freely, publicly & in a timely fashion on Google’s behalf.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps Needs a Public Face by

8 thoughts on “Google Maps Needs a Public Face”

  1. Hi Mike,

    A. Totally agree
    B. I’m not sure Mapsguide Jade was wrong given statements from Jen @ SMX West yesterday. It appears community edits do go live immediately in the maps, but require manual validation before they go live in the main SERPs.

    As an aside, I had a conversation with one of Jen’s colleagues (I believe her name was Diane) who is the product manager for maps.

    She said she was very interested in my feedback and asked if I had any questions regarding maps

    I said, “I wish I had a way to out spammers without identifying myself, and no I don’t really have any questions. I have smart people like Mike and David to help me out and they know more than you’ll ever tell”.

    And then I shared with her my philosophical view “I think you guys are negligent for releasing a product which has so much impact on small businesses and is so clearly a work in progress”.

    She said, we realize this has an impact and of course didn’t agree with me that it was negligent.

    So I asked for her card. She said they don’t carry cards. I asked for her email and she said “you can communicate with me through Jen”.

    Arrogance of the highest order! You want my feedback but block any attempt at communication? BS! It’s really that they want us to feel like our feedback is valued and they then arrogantly block access to real dialog.

    It was a very frustrating experience and made me once again wish for FTC action to break up this hideously arrogant monopoly.

    Will

  2. Hi Will
    Any reports back from SMX are welcome!

    Your story of your interaction with Diane (?) really speaks to why they need a public spokesperson that can not just act sincere but be sincere.

    As to Maps Guide Jade advice…what good is changing a record in Maps if it doesn’t change in the main SERPS? If a business needs to do both things, than she should say so…otherwise I stand by my statement that it is bad advice.

    Mike

  3. Wow, Will, that is some story. Interactions like that do not speak well of Google. Obviously, the woman you spoke to was not authorized to behave otherwise, but it only augments the wisdom of Mike’s suggestion that we really do need SOMEONE with whom we can speak about the very real damages being done to small businesses by Google’s prominent yet highly flawed product. If not Jen, if not Jade…then who? Where is that Matt of Local?

    I’m pretty sure that Mike would agree that, while he truly enjoys giving his best thoughts on troubleshooting Maps, he doesn’t work for Google and all of us have been left talking to one another, trying to figure out what is going on rather than being able to get the straight talk from the horse’s mouth.

    You were pretty straightforward with the lady from Google, Will. I wish the folks in Mountainview would take seriously what you said.

    BTW, I’m so eager for news from the conference.

    Miriam

  4. I’m in total agreement. There is no where to turn. Most times I’m left holding my head in my hands groaning.

    Businesses put a lot of stock in Google Maps and are very frustrated with the lack of coherent answers I can give them. My favourite is
    “Google is another word for challenging.”

    I have no idea as to when data up dates really – I have to approximate from last uploads. I have listings that are now showing as “not verified” (as we learned perviously) which worries clients.
    Now they are not even loading URLs as I’ve provided to them – just because the wind is coming in from the NorthWest. I have no understanding of any type of logic that they may be using. If any at all.
    They decide what information they are going to upload and what they aren’t – regardless of what we send them. I’m at my wits end most days.

    I’m all for Maps Guide Jen. Provided that she’s going to be able to talk on behalf of Google and not put anyone off as in the case of Diane(?) and Will. Such a wonderful experience I don’t doubt. Yikes.

    As a matter of fact why don’t we start a Facebook group ” Maps Guide Jen for the public Face of Google Maps” ?

    Joan

  5. I think there really are two issues here…one is a public spokesperson that can educate, cajole and speak to us, with us and for us….about the issues on a grand scale….

    The second goes back to the need for a customer support/customer relations model that offers real opportunities to get questions answered.

    Miriam noted:

    I’m pretty sure that Mike would agree that, while he truly enjoys giving his best thoughts on troubleshooting Maps, he doesn’t work for Google

    Ahmen to that….yet on some days, I am the only person in the Maps Business help group answering questions…half of which I ignore because there is no way to fix them without Google intervention.

    Mike

  6. Well I am in awe of your wisdom – You are my Google Guru.

    I often think ” I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy”

    Must be a difficult cross to bear… But I’m glad you do so.

  7. Ah, no crossses for me…they are heavy and prevent sleep at night…particularly if there are nails involved

    Mike

  8. Google likes to think of itself as a global player.In reality it is acting like an irresponsible adolescent.

    It’s time for the company to take reponsibility for its actions and to do the right thing.

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