In the past I have written extensively about how Google was indexing KML & RSS files and integrating that information into Maps and why that made having your own kml information and geo sitemap important.
At the LatLong Blog, Google has announced that this user generated map content will now be more fully integrated with Maps results:
[W]e’ve recently taken yet another step on our quest to make Google Maps more user driven: fully blending user-created content into our search results.
Some of our more regular users may have noticed that we’d been sparingly doing this for a while now, occasionally surfacing results from KML, GeoRSS, or Wikipedia we crawl from the web, along with photos and videos we think would be useful – but now we’ve opened the floodgates! From now on, you can expect to see more higher quality user-created content to show up, often intermixed with our traditional results.
As examples of this integration google noted non mainstream searches that would not like have many IYP type entries like “falafel carts in nyc” and “bridge collapse in MN“. My own example would be “squirrels in Olean NY“.
It is conceivable to me that user generated content might offer a way to expand a business categories on the very long tail of local searches. Given the low volume of users currently inside of Maps (just how low you ask? well lets not go there…) compared to those seeing the 10Pack, this might not produce incredible immediate results. But Maps traffic is on the rise and the highlighting of this content might provide significant future benefit.
This raises a number of questions:
1)Will these results be visibly integrated with businesses that have strong category presence now?
2)How will they rank this content? Will it use a similar system to the current maps ranking algo?
3)Will it start showing up in the Local 10-Pack?
4)Will spammers be able to use it to infiltrate traditional category rankings?
5)Will Google put spam guards in early on or will they wait until it is a tidal wave?