All posts by Mike Blumenthal

2008 Wishes: Peace on earth, goodwill for all people and help for MapsGuide Jen

Some days it seems like the World and Google Maps are going to hell in a hand basket with intractable problems; Global warming, end of oil, the war in Iraq, mapspam etc… but I am one of those folks that is a pessimist of mind and an optimist of heart about world affairs. I see the problems, note them (perhaps too often for friends and family alike) but firmly believe that humanity can solve them. At least I have hope that we can.

The same goes for Google. I may seem like a classic kvetcher when it comes to Google. Complain, complain, complain you say, never anything good to say… However the complaints that I have noted about Google Maps just reflect my desire for them to succeed. I really want local to work and I (in my heart of hearts) am rooting for Google to be one of the companies* that sucessfully pushes local into our lives.

In fact, it was but a little more than a year ago that Bill Slawski and I did a little “Jane, you ignorant slut”** two step where I took the side that (Google) Local would improve in accuracy over time while Bill contended that the task was too daunting and that data accuracy would not significantly improve.

I really do want Google Maps to succeed so I am making a New Years Budget Resolution for Google: Hire MapsGuide Jen some help! Heck what does a good customer service rep cost in San Jose? $60,000 a year? That’s but 100 shares of Google stock. Alternatively they could ground the plane for a week. It would go a long way towards showing that Google does intend “goodwill toward small business people and peace on (Google) Earth & Maps” for 2008.
Continue reading 2008 Wishes: Peace on earth, goodwill for all people and help for MapsGuide Jen

Understanding Google Maps nominated for Search Blog Award 2007 once again has their annual Vote for the Search Blogs Awards
posted and Understanding Google Maps and Yahoo Local has been nominated in the Best Local Search Blog category. Thanks to Miriam of SolasWebDesign and Frank of for nominating this blog. I really appreciate the recognition.

It has been a fun year for me. With your help, I have learned a lot about Local Search, Google Maps and myself.  A special thanks go out to Dave, Bill, Greg, Danny, Miriam, Cathy, Chris, Chris & Matt for making yourselves available, providing insight & information and being gracious, decent people. To these folks and those of you whom I have forgotten to recognize, but have contributed so very much to my knowledge this year, I say: A Very Heartfelt Thanks!

Google Maps: Bulk Upload now broken in LBC?

Update 01/04/08 According to MapsGod Jen this has now been fixed. Jen has apparently been on leave and yesterday returned to the Google Maps for Business Group with a vengeance!

In today’s Google Maps For Business Owners another bug in the Local Business Center seems to have been confirmed. This time the bulk upload procedure seems to have broken and has been so since at least Dec. 20th:

TOPIC: Error 504

== 1 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 28 2007 10:08 am
From: “”

I believe you are also refering to my recent question with the same problem. Has anyone else experienced this, and are there any recommendations on what could be causing this?

On Dec 27, 3:24 pm, “m.storagefacil…”
> I noticed around the 22nd of Dec that I haven’t been able to upload
> bulk feed as well. I keep getting this Error. It isnt Just me, as
> im seeing that others are experiencing the same problem. Is there a fix?

== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 28 2007 10:30 am
From: “”

Oh Im wrong it is a 502 server error. Whats the fix? I dont know
but I hope someone from google looks at this blog so that we can get
back to work.

== 3 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 28 2007 2:54 pm
From: “”

Hi guys,

I am having the exact same issue – I have been trying to upload my unicode text file since Dec. 20th without success.


Perhaps the Google Local Business Center is undergoing renovations, perhaps Mapsquide Jen is on an extended holiday break (she deserves it) but the problems of customer service, mapspam, broken coupons and now the broken upload feature seem to be piling up in the forum and have gone unanswered for an extended period.

Local Links of Interest

8 White-Hot Trends Lift Local Search in ’08  – Michael Boland, Search Engine Watch

Eight local search trends will rock the search engine world in ’08. Here are the ones with the most momentum as we roll into the New Year 

Amazon Kindle does Maps – Joshua Topolsky, Engadget

Users of the device have been plumbing its depths, and have uncovered a handful of easter eggs which will make current owners extra happy, and might push potential buyers over the edge. Amongst the hidden features are access to Google Maps coupled with CDMA-based location-finding, which also allows you to quickly locate nearby gas stations and restaurants (as well as your own custom searches).

The Pogies: Envelope, Please David Pogue – NY Times

MAPPING BREAKTHROUGHS Google Maps ( has been blowing MapQuest off the map for some time now. But three new features make it head-spinningly great.

Want a coffee with your iPhone? – Brian Caulfield, Forbes

In an application with the U.S. Patent Office filed on Dec. 20, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer and gadget company described a wireless system that would allow customers to place an order at a store using a wireless device such as a media player, a wireless personal digital assistant or a cellphone.

The system could go far beyond the program that Apple announced with Starbucks in September, which allows iPhone users to press a button and wirelessly download the song playing in the background as they sip their soy lattes.

In Search of the Breakthrough Mobile Network – Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service

It’s been a tough year for municipal Wi-Fi projects and emerging wireless technologies, but with the bruises comes new muscle.

Rubber Chicken Award – (aka The Columbo) Top 10 Finalists – Vote now

top-10.gifVoting is now open for the People’s Choice Awards for the Top Humor Article of 2007.The code has been debugged, the secret algo has been run, the titles have been randomly ordered and we now have determined the Top 10 finalists for the 2007 Rubber Chicken Award for Humor in the SEM industry. The judges will once again review these and make a final determination as to just how rank they are. You may be able to unduly influence the outcome (although a good solid link might do the same :), see Matt’s take on this) and identify the people’s choice award by voting here.

And the Top 10 Finalists are:

  1. Want traffic? Rank for High Traffic Keywords… 
  2. We Add Words to AdWords… Google Subtracts them
  3. Why eBay and Wikipedia rule Google’s SERPs,
  4. SEOs home alone – Google’s nightmare
  5. 13 Things to Do When Your Loved One is Away at Conferences
  6. SEO High School Confidential – Premiere Edition!
  7. The Sphinn Awards – Part I & –Part II.
  8. Top 21 Signs You Need a Break From SEO (2007 version)
  9. 10 Signs That You May Be a Blog Addict
  10. The SEO’s Guide to Beginners
  11. The Internet Marketer’s Nightmare
  12. Mission Accomplished—Top Ranking in Google
  13. Google Interiors – the day my house became searchable
  14. NY Times: On-line Coupon Growth 6%

    Interesting article in the NY Times today, Shifting Coupons, From Clip and Save to Point and Click about the leading print media coupon company’s move into on-line copupons. Vallassis Communications is creating a new coupon portal & brand: to cater to woman “discount seekers”.

    According to the aricle : RedPlum will join a small cadre of similar sites, like, and, that have struggled to build traffic and wean consumers off paper coupons. In the 12 months that ended in October, the number of visitors to coupon sites grew by only 6 percent over the previous year, to 20.3 million from 19.1 million, according to ComScore, an Internet marketing research company.

    This slow growth of on-line coupons is evident in Google Coupons as well. There appears to be little or no growth in either coupon users or total coupon creation.

    Even though Google has been actively promoting coupons via AdWords for over a month, they have only snagged 500 some odd subscriptions to their coupon service via Google Co-op.

    Total coupons available through Google Coupons for the major markets seems to have stayed even or declined in the same timeframe with some markets showing as much as an 18% decline in total coupons. Continue reading NY Times: On-line Coupon Growth 6%

    A new Blog: Small linux deployments

    Our newest blog, Small linux deployments, is all about the technical side of operating a local linux-based hosting and web design company and is written by Erek Dyskant.

    Erek is our System analyst, sys admin, programmer, hardware and general technical guru, a sort of Renaissance man of the Linux world. He has worked with us, off and on, since he was 16 and is both a great co-worker and a good friend.

    He is a unique package that emdodies the big view of technology, the detailed view of the hardware & software and the ability to communicate about it to geeks AND small business folks. He’s a good coder to boot, studies biology and has a detailed understanding of national and global politics. If you run a small linux based hosting company or just are interested in the details of doing so take a look at Erek’s blog, you will find it an interesting read.

    Google Maps: LBC Coupon Bug?

    This Google Local Business center coupon bug was reported today in Google Maps for Business Group. I have not verified this but there have been a number of reports of coupon problems.

    TOPIC: Coupon post


    == 1 of 1 ==
    Date: Mon, Dec 24 2007 7:50 am
    From: The Refinisher

    I asked a similar question yesterday. See this link to my

    I found out that if you do not choose an expiration date for your coupon, then it will work. It is a Google Bug. I know this is not the
    answer you are looking for, but it is all I could find. I had to manually add my own expiration date on my coupon.

    On Dec 23, 11:21 am, “t…”
    > How do you get the coupon to show up on your business map?
    > What I did or tried;
    > 1). I went here
    > 2). Clicked on the coupon tab, filled in all required fields, pressed
    > continue at the bottom.
    > 3). Read all the Editorial Guidelines.
    > And it still dosn’t show up in MY Local Business Center, Locations
    > Control Panel.
    > Thanks

    Google Maps now with PhotoSpammy Links?

    This came in today from a reader:

    I ran across this new twist with InfoUSA & Google Maps and thought I’d pass it in. Do you recall when Google Local/Maps added a photo provided by InfoUSA to many local business profiles? It’s the default image for most companies.

    A couple days ago, I clicked on one of the photos (trying to check out a phony address) and got a redirect to what I thought was a hijacked, spammy page offering a credit report. This morning I finally realized every InfoUSA photo redirects to one of those pages on with ‘an InfoUSA company’ in very light gray text at the top left. The linked photo is in thumbnail size but surrounded by an offer for a credit report on the business. Each is a lead generator since no data about the company is actually provided. Each ‘click to view’ link launches a pop-up box to register. User registration required with an offer of ‘the first 25 reports for ‘free.” Here are the TOS

    They’ve basically got ad links for InfoUSA credit reports on every business listing. Even with a business’s own uploaded pictures, the one from InfoUSA still shows under “Photos”. To experience this for yourself click on the last photo of the business (see screen shot below) in this Google Maps search example for Chelsea Fower Market in NYC..

    I wonder if this is quid pro quo between G and Info (and planned all along) or a unilateral switch to better monetize the InfoUSA data. Would love to find screen shots from the old since I seem to remember small links offering credit reports.

    It is not clear why or how those photo links are there but the links sure appear inappropriate, don’t they? Now that is a link campaign!

    Read on to see a screen shot.. Continue reading Google Maps now with PhotoSpammy Links?

    Nominations for Rubber Chicken SEM Humor Award (aka the Columbo Award)

    Updated 12/24/07 Our nominations are in. We have closed the nomination period and are now moving to the next stage of the process. The final standings will be announced before the end of the year at SEL!Take a look, give us your reader’s choice nomination for the best…..They range from the mundane to the profane. Please double check the list to make sure I didn’t miss your article or title…. Continue reading Nominations for Rubber Chicken SEM Humor Award (aka the Columbo Award)