Google Maps limits view of Categories via Community Edits

The ability to see and change existing categories via Community edit has recently been removed by Google. David Rodecker of RelevantAds pointed out this subtle but interesting change in the Google Maps Community Edit feature that was introduced in March of 2008.

A community editor can still add a category but the ability to know how the business was (sometimes erroneously) categorized and to affect that is now gone. This change apparently occurred last week and was first noticed by LocalSplash.
before-after

It is interesting to speculate why Google removed this feature of community editing. David Rodecker and LocalSplash both noted that it allowed them to decide which categories were the most appropriate for their clients. One presumes that the either the information that Google was receiving via the feature was for the most part useless or more likely being used to disadvantage competitors. It did provide default categorization information on unclaimed businesses and was the only communication vehicle to alert Google of obviously miscategorized businesses.

I am not sure that having the ability to edit the category information is useful but knowing the category information of claimed and unclaimed businesses would provide a transparency that would be welcomed.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps limits view of Categories via Community Edits by

19 thoughts on “Google Maps limits view of Categories via Community Edits”

  1. I usually use the category section to correct wrongly listed businesses that I came across while doing searches for specific services on the internet. You won’t believe how many businesses are erroneously mis-categorized and I took the time to remove them. I am quite vexed that Google Maps removed this. I don’t know who will now monitor and fix mis-categorized listings on Google Maps. Giving access to the Google Search Community was a good way to self-correct millions of listings across the whole U.S. that were mis-categorize. Maybe Google has hired all the displaced workers that have recently lost their jobs to do these corrections. Way to go Google. Keep employing America. You just removed millions of people from doing free work for you and making the Business Categories from being relevant.

  2. I can only wonder what is going on these days in the Google Maps Laboratories. What are these Googlers concocting to replace the community from self-correcting the erroneous categories. Any insider information will be appreciated.

    George

  3. I say we blog-protest about the removal of the Business Categories in Google Maps until Google Map specialists re-think what they just caused.

    George

  4. I agree with George….google local needs to bring back the business categories so i can help my listing out by using the correct categories associated with my business

  5. Google really should bring back the visible categories list. It drives me crazy to perform a search for a specific type of business, go to the map listings, click on a location that is close to me and discover that the website has nothing to do with what I was looking for in the 1st place. Ugh! I’m not a patient person. I don’t think any avid Internet user is. The categories clearly gave the user an idea of what to expect from the associated business. I loved the Google Local Business results… but it is riddled with too many mis-categorized listings. The old results and listings gave the user an option of determining between the desired and the undesired websites. All I can say is “Good bye Google and Hello Yahoo!”. Yahoo has less clutter and competition (and yes, I know, less overall listings). But in the long run it has a higher percentage of delivering a business that fits the criteria of what I am searching for… Get it together Google.

  6. I can imagine that this feature might have been abused; creating a big challenge in maintaining correct categorization.

    Considering how important classification is, this feature is very valuable for businesses. I would assert that:

    A) In the Maps, Edit Details screen, read-only visibility of the classifications so that businesses can understand classification systems of their competitors and businesses around them.

    it should be noted that the category search suggestions in Google Maps only exposes a subset of the total categories associated with a listing.

    B) In GLBC, the capability to edit/delete underlying categories should be instated for your own claimed business listing,

    It should be noted that the GLBC Category auto-suggestions are a completely different ontology than the categories associated with most Maps listings which come from various core data providers.

    Best regards,
    David Rodecker
    Founder & CTO, RelevantAds
    “getting local business online”

  7. @David

    The third reason would be to allow the greater community to spot category abuses. Transparency is to my way of thinking always the best policy.

    As you note providing insight to the content that Google stores in their cluster about your categories would be useful…. as would visibility of reviews and other details that they might cause your record to go astray.

  8. Hi Mike,

    wanted to put an end to the mystery :) Nothing intentional here, this is just a bug that was introduced lately and will be fixed within a few days. We’re very happy with how community members are adding and fixing existing categories and we’re commited to provide more transparency, not less.

    Lior (Product Manager for Community Edits)

  9. That is good news! I hope it comes back soooon!. Thanks Loir for the update.

  10. Lior, Mike

    Don’t you think it’s better that the categories are not ‘editable’? Maybe only from a Locksmith point of view ?, but those kind of issues (I think) should be added only by the LBC; or after Google Maps will have its necessary shields against spammers & opportunists..

  11. @puresheer
    I feel strongly that within the lbc businesses should have full visibility into the cluster of info that google has assembled and at least as much ability to correct their record.

    Beyond that while I have seen the ill affects and abuses of unclaimed records only google knows if it is a net gain in quality to allow the community edits.

    Iknow when I have tried to correct totally erroneous cAtegory info it has had absolutely no impact.

  12. I have been noticing that the bigger problem is Map markers. I recently discovered that my main unverified locations had been moved to three (3) different locations, and one was in Antarctica.

    This explains why the data is not merging with the main verified location. I dragged them back to where they are supposed to be, but since more than 200 meters, won’t move.

    It appears that anyone can do it, and it is impossible to claim the unverified listings, as the post card will be sent to an address that does not even exist!

  13. This is a great example of how Google’s sunny view of human nature runs at odds with the reality of how people act out.

  14. at first I have to say that this is a realy nice post about the google maps feature. In some german webmasterforums people used this feature for local marketing. I`have heard that google will bring the complete missing features back again. Sorry for my bad english.
    cu, keep on the good work.

  15. I agree with Craig that this is definitely about the programmers’ perception of reality. It’s the difference of what people really want and what others think they should want.

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