Google, in upgrading Google Blog search, has created an intriguing potential competitor to Techmeme. The upgraded search provides broad blog coverage, picks up stories quickly and has the potential to project blog content more widely. ReadWriteWeb noted:
The new Google Blogsearch has the potential to reach tens of millions of people and drive insane amounts of traffic.
Whether that is true for local blogs is yet to be seen. There is however a feature that highlights blog by major search terms. This could have an a positive traffic impact for hyperlocal blogs as it emphasizes blogs related to primary geo search phrases:
Earlier today when I had read that Podesta Baldocchi Florist’s listing had returned to normal in the Local 10 Pack, I had assumed that Google had cleaned up the mess and removed the offending listings from Maps.
Not so fast pardner! It seems two weeks isn’t quite long enough to purge these fellows. A number of listings are still in the index from the hijacking entity. They still show as well on the Local 10 Pack on the search Flowers Brooklyn NY. Amazing the difficulty that Google has in purging the database of listings engaged in apparently criminal activity. If this activity doesn’t warrant a full and complete ban from Maps, I don’t know what does.
9/25/08 9:30 pm Google has removed the deceptive listing and returned Kalman Belli Florist to the 10 Pack. This was reported into Google Groups earlier today by the owner.
9/24/08 10:00 pm Google has yet to remove this hijacked listing and restore the original florist to their position in the Local 10-Pack.
9/21/08- Remnants of last week’s floral hijackings are still showing in the Local 10-Pack:
Here is a Groups correspondence from one of the affected merchants:
The only guarantee against having a business listing hijacked in Google Maps has been for a listing owner to control their listing in the Local Business Center. The only way to be ranked well in Maps is for that same business to control their listing in the Local Business Center. The many blogs covering local have said time and again, take control of the listing in the Local Business Center.
It is a message that makes sense given how Google has designed the system. It is a message from Google that is clear and which Google keeps repeating. Yet I fear that we and Google are preaching to the converted.
Even businesses that want to take control of their listing and are motivated to do so are often stymied. Prior to last week’s hijacking debacle I was corresponding with a locksmith who contended that his listing had been hijacked.
I was trying to document the locksmith’s situation so I made repeated efforts attempting to get him to confirm to me that he had claimed his record in the LBC. I was unable to do so. He just didn’t get what I was asking him, no matter how many ways and times I asked. In his mind he had claimed the record but he could not tell me exactly how or where. I came away convinced that he simply edited is record using Google’s end user edit capability and returned to it regularly to correct any nefarious edits.
This posting in Google Groups confirmed my suspicions that many, motivated business owners are completely incapable of making their way into the Local Business Center (even when they think they have):
In response to the many changes that Google has made of late in Maps, Google is once again surveying some Map users (Survey URL) with questions as to speed of the service, quality of data and customer service level satisfaction. If the survey is unavailable at the link above you can view this PDF of the survey.
When Google upgraded Maps with the blueline upgrade in late July, they temporarily lost the abililty to allow easy rerouting of their directions. That loss led to an avalanche of small business complaints from companies that were using Google for daily routing of their vehicles. The most recent change to using TeleAtlas has led to a new series of complaints from SMB’s using Google’s routing noting that whole locations (not just the functionality) have been lost.
Has anyone seen Union County NC? That’s the question a small business owner outside of Charlotte, NC is asking of Google after their recent change to using TeleAtlas mapping data.
In this posting to Google Groups, this small business person, using Google Map’s routing, is complaining that the data necessary for his daily routing task is either missing or unusable due to its age. I wonder how he would answer the survey?:
Last week’s reports of hijackings of legitimate business listings in Maps highlighted wide spread abuse of both Google’s community edit AND the reviews feature. In addition to hijacking listings, the affiliate spammers have been rapidly adding bogus reviews. Most IYP sites have a rapid response to such activities and will quickly pull down a bogus review in response to a business owner. NOT GOOGLE!
This posting in the Groups highlights the issue (and provides plenty of fodder for the curmudgeon in me):
Last week, Google announced that they were switching over Google Maps data from NavTeq to TeleAtlas. At the time they noted that “there may also be some cases where the data may not be optimal”.
With Google’s rapid switch over to TeleAtlas and Google’s high visibility these reports of missing streets are likely to increase over the next several weeks as these problems with TeleAtlas’ data are uncovered. As Miriam Ellis points out on her blog, this missing Map’s data can cause incredible marketing problems to the small business that experiences it.
There are reports starting to flow into Google Groups of this being the case. What should you do if this happens to you or one of your clients?
Google has often made their technology available to encourage and support voting. In that vein, it seems likely that Google Maps will soon provide a new Google created mapplet with comprehensive voter information.
The site, currently visible at the url: http://maps.google.com/vote, will provide voting location, registration information and more. Apparently the data set is not yet loaded as the site notes: All voting location information will be available by mid-October. Until then, please check with your state or local election officials to verify your voting location.
It is likely that this project started out as a Google 20% project but given the finished look and feel has obviously become fully supported. Being able to generate a driving map for each potential voter to every polling place offers incredible benefit to every “get out the vote” organization particularly smaller ones that might not have the resources to gather this information. Rolling this out on a national scale is an intriguing example of deep local data collection and how that information can possibly affect outcomes on a larger stage. It points to a time when having in-depth local data will fundamentally change the way that the web is used.
On another, possibly related note, a reader pointed out the domain GoogleVote.com that sports the Google Vote logo above.
In honor o’ Pirate’s Day, the ever snarly, gnarly uber pirate, Maps Guide Jen is publicly making someone walk the banishment plank over in groups. She gave the fellow until sun up on Monday to comply:
TOPIC: where is my listing please???????????????????????
== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Fri, Sep 19 2008 4:21 pm
From: Maps Guide Jen
Your listings are showing up, but you also have 4 separate listings with lots of keyword spam. This is strictly not allowed under these guidelines which you should check out:
Normally we’d remove your listings immediately, but it is Friday. Please make every effort to suppress your “extra” listings over the weekend.
On Sep 8, 4:14 pm, smartie81 wrote:
My listing is not showing… I go to google and put in my postcode, nothing I put in my business name nothing.
Please can anyone tell me why and what I have done wrong, this is it below
Permanent Makeup Essex Heidi Worman
Three hoozahs! Now if some equally gnarly coder over at Google would just catch this on the front end so Maps Guide Jen can take off her pirate patch.
Lisa Barone of Bruce Clay picked up my reporting of the new Google Maps Business Listing Guidelines . She commented:
Blumenthals doesn’t seem completely satisfied with the guidelines set out by Google because they leave too much wiggle room….. He’s right in that there really could be a lot more explanation to what Google will and will not allow, but it’s a start. And really, when has Google ever given you the degree of information you secretly hoped for? Maybe one day that’ll change, but today it’s still Google’s world.
I’m just glad that some semblance of rule has been put into place over there. Watching spammy local search results pop up makes my skin crawl. I need local search to be as spam-free and relevant as it can be, because that’s the search I go to when I don’t have time to play around and I need answers now.
My question to Lisa is why should we accept mediocrity from Google on any level? Google has had ample time to make more than just a start in Maps quality. Here is the answer that I posted on her blog:
It isn’t that I am not completely satisfied with Google’s guidelines, it is that I am dissatisfied with Google’s approach to Mapspam in specific and Local quality standards in general.