Should Google Maps Include a Warning Label with the 10 Pack?

gum_disease_wrning_labelGoogle treats Maps as a free resource that it provides to the public. From their point of view, any problem that exists, if it can’t be handled at an engineering level really is not significant.

For users, there is an understanding that Maps is fulfilling a critical information role in our society and there is the underlying assumption of accuracy.

The interests of the user, the business and Google soon diverge quickly when innaccuracies show up in the system. It doesn’t matter whether the problem is caused by Google (think mergings) or by a third party (think hijacking), Google is going to see it as a statistical problem with a certain priority while the patient that went to the wrong emergency room or the business loosing income will view it as problem worthy of specific oversight and intervention.

Here was a post today in the Forums that is suggesting that Google should publicly and obviously recognize this difference with a Warning Label:

Shouldn’t Google post a visible warning to users about the merged information until it’s cleared up?
Google admits it’s a problem they are trying to fix but also says it could take some time.Our bed and breakfast listing shows our name, our competition’s address, our telephone number and our competition’s web address as well as their logo that links to their site. The problem is over 90% of our business comes from our web site. We have received a few calls that were clearly addressing the rooms they saw for the other Inn, so we directed them there, but we couldn’t figure out why that was happening. It took two days and much reading to find that it was a problem Google was having. It seemed that information should have been a bit more accessible. 
And now, reading other people’s stories leads me to believe that Google should clearly post a warning to ALL users (not just those that have listings) that the Google Map information may not be accurate. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. Too many people rely on Internet information as if it’s infallible.

Google does place a warning on their driving directions:

These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly. You must obey all signs or notices regarding your route.

Should Google include a Warning Label with Local Results?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Should Google Maps Include a Warning Label with the 10 Pack? by

6 thoughts on “Should Google Maps Include a Warning Label with the 10 Pack?”

  1. Mike,

    Another great article. As a large local SEO agency we are struggling with this merging factor every day. We receive phone calls from clients who are anygry that their information is not correct or who question what we have done for them because eLocal specific details have been removed from the listing we created. When we try to explain the merging issue, most customers either don’t believe or think we don’t know what we are doing.

    Google needs to add a preferred data feed to the LBC for agencies that cannot be overwritten. We currently PIN verify every listing we put up and still Google Maps merges thereby corrupting out data. Have a review process for agencies or make us pay for enhanced listings like Yahoo Local does. Either way we need a solution to the merging problem.

  2. Hi Joe

    It is very problematic on all fronts. It hurts the smb’s in the listing, it hurts those like your self that help with listing and in the end it hurts Google who seems to have trouble creating a secure reliably functioning product. I am not sure how they will guarantee that your feed of hundreds or thousands of records won’t be overwritten when they can’t guarantee it for the one record entered in the LBC. (Although there are many very good arguments to create a more robust agency level product and support.)

    Google’s silence in a time of debacle is also problematic. On one level, I really like Google and I hate seeing them shooting themselves in the foot twice on the same problem. OK there is a problem, thats hard to admit but its understandable. Stuff happens.

    On the other hand, the total silence afterwards is not understandable. Google not only needs to be out in front of the problem on a technical level, they need to be out front on a communication level. They should be visiting their own forums to acknowledge the new merge listing poster’s problem and provide, even if perfunctory, updates to the situation.

    Instead what we see is dead silence. Thus compounding their apparent mistake with what appears to the outsider as denial or anti-social behavior.

  3. Mike, everybody is talking about this. It is not something new either. As you indicated, Google’s silence on the subject is becoming a problem. Maybe it is time for some sort letter writing campaign?

  4. I suppose the gum disease and tooth loss would be the result of jaw clenching, teeth grinding and gnashing as one watches all one’s customers be directed away to erroneous URLs, addresses and phone numbers. But don’t use Google to find a dentist to help you with these side effects…you will end up with a locksmith.

    Just saw yet another example of this the other day. A local pizza house’s record having been conflated with an unrelated chain of stores somewhere in Colorado. All their customers are being sent to a website for a business that is multiple states away. No, they don’t deliver!

    I don’t see Google putting up any warnings that would lead the uninitiated user to the correct understanding that Maps is far from perfect at this time. They let people bump their own heads and noses to figure this out by themselves…apparently little caring about the slow death of brand/application loyalty this might create.

    If Google had a real competitor (which I just don’t think they do), advertising as, “Accurate…not like Google” could really work for all of those people who’ve gotten gum disease and tooth loss. But, while a true competitor remains absent, Google is able to let all of this ride in a customer service-less vacuum and we’re all still using their service. What a situation!

  5. Yes! I’d love to know that. And yet…I’m afraid to know it. Like you, Mike, I do want Google to get it right, but they are making it so hard for me to maintain my hopefulness about them.

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