Google Maps: Will More Fully Integrated User Created Content Generate Mapspam?

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?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: Will More Fully Integrated User Created Content Generate Mapspam? by

8 thoughts on “Google Maps: Will More Fully Integrated User Created Content Generate Mapspam?”

  1. Really, before I can say anything else, I have to say, “AHHH! What is that with the squirrels?!”

    What is that, Mike? It’s hilarious. Giant squirrels. Everywhere!

    Now, that I’ve gotten that out of the way, the 3rd point on your list really has me thinking. Would Google value UGC over a main business listing in the 10-pack. Could you linkbuild to, say, a UGC map so that Google would view it as more valuable than one of their own 10-pack answers?

    I wonder where this will go.
    Miriam

  2. Ah the squirrels, cute aren’t they….Olean’s civic/commercial public art project.

    Google has been generally moving user content into the main Maps index. One presumes if they feel the quality is good enough it will move into the Universal Local results…either integrated into the business listing siloh or separate…how they will rank them is unclear.

    Certainly if they can be gamed for benefit, they will be and one can only hope that Google is ready.

    Mike

  3. Squirrels are the new clowns I think.

    First time visiting your blog and I must say it’s great, thoughtful content without the usual “do this and get rich” that is so prevalent in the SEO blog universe.

    These are all good points and unfortunately I think you’re correct – the spammers will eventually be all over this and completely dilute it’s usefulness for browsers and marketers. On the silver lining side I can see it as a great vehicle for community level marketing campaigns when aligned with all the other correct elements for a local SEO/SEM campaign.
    It would also be fantastic for grass-roots public awareness campaigns for non-profits and charities.

    Cheers,
    Wayne

  4. @Wayne

    Glad that you have made it here and we welcome your contribution.

    I suppose that there is a fine line between marketers and spammers and perhaps not a line but a gradient. I agree with you that it looks like it will become part and parcel of the future local marketing campaign although the rate of adoption will be dependent on the rate that Google “opens the floodgates” and integrates it into the main results….certainly if they start showing up in Universal Local results, it will switch even more quickly.

    I like your idea of using it to aid “grass-roots public awareness campaigns for non-profits and charities”.

    Again, thanks for coming by.

    Mike

  5. Thanks for the welcome Mike.

    I think the ball is definitely in Google’s court right now and they can decide how easy they will make it for the spammers. I think the one saving grace is that it is harder for the spammers to monetize something without a hard link, especially the professional link-builders. Google also has the ability to make this a “short lived” benefit which I think could be good for everyone, especially when you think of it as part of a campaign and not just another off-page tactic.

    Personally I think there needs to be more actual Marketing in Search Engine Marketing. It would give the public a better perception of everyone who practices SEO/SEM properly. But that’s another conversation for another day.

    Cheers,
    Wayne

  6. I saw this mentioned a month ago on another blog and well people there suggested google’s dumb map idea came about because they hired the idiots who were coming up with new ideas for eBay that was killing eBay.

    Oh and to the blogmaster, you really need to fix your layout. The fonts are extremely tiny and hard to read. I have to zoom in 7 times to read more than the titles.

  7. Does anyone have any ideas on how to have user content removed from google maps? I accidentally posted private content publicly and now that information shows up under user content. I deleted the original map, but that hasn’t stopped the content from displaying.

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