Local Links of Interest

Google Local Maps Is Not Yellow Pages – Miriam Ellis, SEO Igloo

An insightful piece on the conflict between SMB expecations and reality in Google Maps and what Google can do to help improve the situation.

In the “not every Map Idea is a Good Map Idea” Category:

My Neighbors are Nucking Futs – Jerrold, blogto.com

Sometimes truly ill-conceived ideas meet easily-accessed technology and make it to the web. Rotten Neighbors (pardon the American spelling) is one such not-so-bright idea that somehow made it through development and has gone live online.The idea is simple. Using the Google Maps interface, you point to a house or building and tell the world how crazy/sleazy/ugly/horny/etc the occupants are.

Why Google Apps is a Serious Threat to Microsoft Office – Bernard Lunn, ReadWriteWeb.com

Not only is Google miles ahead of MS on collaboration, they have moved ahead on mobile access. I have long believed that mobile would be a key driver for Web Office. Now I can get access to my Docs from my Blackberry. When I switch to an iPhone with that bigger screen, I will be able to say “sayonara” to my laptop even more. In that world, MS Office looks like a real dinosaur.

The changing nature of Local Search

I ran across this ad for a “Local Search Expert” this morning in the Houston Craig’s List:

roofing.jpg

This ad intriuged me on a number of levels. One could draw conclusions about the SEM industry, the Local 10-Pack or the need for qualified pros in major markeets.

But the takeaway for me was that Local has arrived. Local is no longer just the province of hotels, restauarants and florists. The percieved value of this type of exposure has reached into the deepest levels of the local business world. For a roofing company to be willing to pay for the service inidcates to me the changing perception and reality that is local.

Google Maps User Survey

Google Maps does seem to be on the Self Improvement Plan of late. Today I noticed a survey to take:

googlehappinesssurvey.jpg

Here is a link to an HTML file of a copy the survey: google-maps-user-happiness-survey.html

I guess Google wasn’t happy with my one person assessment of the situation. So here is your chance to have some input. Head over to Maps, login and let Google know what you are thinking. The survey is quite short with only 13 questions and is very focused on user satisfaction and experience.

Here is the one question that might motivate you to head over:

surveyquestion.jpg

Local Links of Interest

Nokia and Google battle for the mobile web – Jack Ewing, businessweek

With the cell phone fast becoming an Internet entry point of choice, the handset maker is grappling with Google over the wireless Web

Geo-blogging with Google Maps – Scott Gilbertson, Wired

Tony Hirst, who also created the amazing Google Calendar-on-a-map mashup we told you about last month, is back with a new Yahoo Pipe that makes it dead simple to blog from within Google Maps.Taking advantage of Google’s MyMaps feature, which allows you to create and customize your own maps, Hirst has created a Yahoo Pipe that can parse the output of your map and turn it into a geo-aware RSS feed — perfect for adding a location context to your posts.

Google Earth Founder promises rural images in Google Earth to improve – Desmoines Register

Ohazama also said that Google Earth technicians are trying to update data in more rural areas, such as Iowa…. Imagery they receive for these areas tends to be washed out, so they’re currently cleaning it up so it doesn’t look like big “gray blobs,” he said, although he wasn’t sure when Iowa’s data would be refreshed.

Google Static Map api – Google Blogoscoped

I didn’t realize how valuable this could be until Google Blogoscoped showed the simple code required to make it happen. Lots of SMB websites need nothing more

...The Static Maps API seems like a nice alternative to the full-blown JavaScript API – it’s not interactive, but a little more accessible.

Google Map’s Carter Maslan: Categories upgrade coming soon

Is a Google Categories fix is on the way?

After recently completing a number of posts on the problems, background and possible work arounds to the Google Maps category issues, I was able to interview Google’s Carter Maslan, Maps Product Management Director. It appears that a fix to the category issues is on the way.

He noted that he and Google were painfully aware of the categorization issues that had been identified here and in the Google Groups postings, that he shared the small business user’s dissatisfaction and he assured me that they have been working on the fixes. Some of those may be ready is as few as a couple of weeks.

I am anxious to see the solution to this problem. I am not sure whether it is relief at finally being able to stop beating my head against the wall or that I will finally be able to start complaining about something else :) but I am glad that Google will attempt to offer up a solution. Being the skeptic that I am, I need to see to believe but I was encouraged by my conversation with Carter.

You may read the whole interview at SearchEngineLand: Google Maps Categories: Will The Pain End Soon?

Google Maps Upgrade: Report inappropriate photo

While exploring a potential new feature that would allow video to be added to your Local Business Record in Maps (first spotted by Mike The Internet Guy) I found that Google has added an ability to report inappropriate photos for any of the following reasons:

•This image infringes on my privacy
•This image violates a copyright
•This image violates a trademark
•This image contains inappropriate content or violates policy guidelines
•Other (please describe below)

Google notes: “We’ll review each image to ensure that it complies with our Terms of Service and Program Policies.”

reportinappropriateimage.jpg

In a recent interview with Carter Maslan, Product Director of Google Maps, he noted that the best way to combat spam was to rely on the masses for feedback. This appears to be the one of the steps to fruition on that direction.
Continue reading

Local Links of Interest

Google to add video to local business record in Maps – Mike The Internet Guy

Don’t Pee in the Pool. Responsible Social Media MarketingMarty Weintraub , AimClearBlog

I have never really engaged in social media marketing. When I wanted to I asked Marty for advise and was impressed with his understanding of it. This article really strikes home and while social media marketing has not yet had a huge role in local SEM, it will going forward and this is great advice.

Google Maps Street Video a funny look at the creeping intrusion of technology in our lives (thanks to Mark Lehr of WandInc.com via Greg Sterling )

View the Super Delegates on Google Maps – Rick Klau, Superdelegates.org (Thanks to Google Earth Blog)

Google Maps: More reports of merged listings

Yesterday I reported an example of two listings of different businesses with the same address being merged. There are more reports of similar problems in the Google Maps for Business Group recently being reported (here and here).

The first instance reported in the Group has a number of similarities to the case reported yesterday; it occurs in England, the businesses occupy the same address, there are issues with uploaded images, the websites are conflated and both phone numbers show in both records:

You can view the pin/profile by searching for ‘web design’ in Huddersfield. My company, Archa Solutions, is listed right at the top of the second page of results. Or follow this [ link and this link]

The issue is that our profile has been merged with the company whom we rent an office from, The Media Centre. It’s a large building that has lots of office space and many companies in this building have their own pin/profile page on Maps but have not been merged with The Media Centre’s own profile.

The Media Centre, the many companies within it and my company all have the same UK postcode – HD1 1RL, so I imagine this could be the problem. However, it only seems to have affected our business. If you click on our pin and then onto the more details section you will see that it lists two phone numbers (the second of which is not ours), it also includes some of The Media Centre’s email addresses, opening hours, service information, photos, web pages etc.

Another issue is that our company logo is not showing up. I have tried uploading the logo to Google and pointing it to a version on our web site. Both of which do not seem to work.

It is interesting that Google would merge two distinct Local Business Center records. It is possibly a spam control strategy to prevent multiple optimized listings from the same business. A technique worth trying for those that have a legitimate need to distinguish their record, would be to create more signals for Google to understand that the businesses are in fact distinct. Perhaps adding a Suite # or a second more detailed street address would do the trick.

Maybe Google is confused because they drive on the wrong side of the road.

Google Maps: Conflated Records

Rob Nicholson of VisitBritain.org has shared an unusual problem with Google Maps:

Google has combined two listings (despite me registering our business as the correct details) thus giving a “kind of competitor” the picture as a screenshot of their product and the email and url as theirs! and there doesnt seem a way to fix this with Google!

Here are the screenshots….

For the Britain London Visitor Center :

blvc.jpg

And for the apparent cause for the conflict, London Pass Collection Center:

londonpass.jpg

If anyone has experienced anything similar, I would love to know about it.

Google Maps Offers Refine by User Rating & Neighborhood Option

There has been much discussion in the local community about the impact of reviews and review star rating on local rankings. In research done last year, it seemed that the quantity of reviews had significantly more impact on ranking than the quality of reviews.Recently however Google Maps has added a new option in Maps Text View mode that allows searchers to limit listings by the quality ratings, at least in certain highly reviewed categories like restaurants and hotels.userrating.jpgNote the dramatic change in listings when 4 Stars are selected. I would agree that Ellicottville doesn’t really have any 4-star restaurants.4stars.jpgIn larger metro areas there is also a choice to refine by neighborhood. Continue reading

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