Wanted: Colombo assistants


For all of you that are hot on the trail of Mapspammers this post might help to speed things up :

Hack Google (Maps) URLs for Quick Searching

Basically, the multi-step process of going to Google [Maps], typing in an address, clicking submit, etc., can be avoided by just putting all your info directly into the URL. For example typing this works:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1683 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA

So for example to find Cathy’s florist that she reported last week to Google Maps for Business Group you would simply type in the URL:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=flowers with gifted elegance

To receive your secret decoder ring send along your recently found Mapspam.

(this would also work for those of you who just use Maps a lot and are not interested in joining the Columbo Mystery Squad)

Google Maps Unique Visitors up 51.57% Year over Year


Techcrunch has a good summary of the unique visitors to each of Google’s services comparing this November to last. It appears that Maps, by Comscore’s measurement, has 17% as many unique users as Google Web Search has. This % is significantly higher than last year.

Greg Sterling has a good analysis of the numbers. However given that Google Maps data is pushed out over a number of different technologies, the Comscore count may be underestimating the number of unique users of the data set and the overall usage of Maps. Those technologies include Google SMS, Goog-411 and Google Maps for Mobile. The extent to which users of Google Maps is undercounted is unclear but it strikes me that the undercount is greater on Maps than any other Google property as it uses more distribution technolgoies than other Google products. Regardless the number of unique users of Maps is starting to take off.

goognumbers500.jpg

When a number to call might help


From the goog411 Google Group

http://groups.google.com/group/goog411?hl=en

Today’s topics:
===============================================
TOPIC: Help!!!
http://groups.google.com/group/goog411/browse_thread/thread/90a13590c0cf0b10?hl=en
================================================

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sat, Dec 22 2007 4:43 pm
From: Janu

Goog411 has been sending me the same text message every 15 minutes for
2 hours now at 10 cents a message. This is the first time I have experienced this problem when receiving text messages from goog 411.
Who do I contact to stop the messages??

Thanks for your help in advance,

Janu
================================================

If it takes this poor fellow as long to resolve his problem as it is taking (9 months and counting) for this school to solve theirs (where you will also find some earlpearl’s of wisdom), his cell phone bill will roughly equal the national debt of Kazikstan by the end of the upcoming holiday week.

Local Authoritative OneBox = I’m Feeling Lucky; or Not!


The recent posting at SEORefugee about the Denver Florist going broke due to their business being displaced by appearance of a competitor in the OneBox, has brought Google’s Authoritative OneBox into the consciousness of the search community.

The Authoritative OneBox has been the gold standard to measure success in local search marketing. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a singular local listing that shows up at the top of the main Google search results page when Google determines that a certain local listing is the authority for that local search.

It made its first appearance last October. Bill Slawski wrote up a OneBox Patent Summary in January of this year. In that same timeframe (January & February) it became more frequently displayed and there was an increase in use of the Authoritative OneBox. Previously it was shown when there was no competition locally but it started being shown more frequently and for the “dominant” local listing.

In some ways, the Authoritative OneBox is like the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google main search window. It reflects the confidence that Google has in their technology. It reflects that idea that they can determine the single best answer to a query. It is said that Google forgoes $110 million in advertising revenue by keeping the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. At some level the button reflects a certain DNA of Google and their desire to be playful yet confident in their results. It also reflects a certain arrogance: the idea that their algo is so good that it can determine the answer a searcher wants to the exclusion of all others.

The Authoritative OneBox also demonstrates the fundamental difference (and difficulties) between returning relevant results of an abstraction like webpages and returning the real results of a concrete thing like a business. When would a user ever want just one response to the query Denver Flowers?

However it raises more questions than just that.

Continue reading

Today’s Google Mapspam report – 75% chance of rain


tirerack2.jpg

Update: 12/23/07 The Tire Rack mapspam has been removed. Since none of the other spam mentioned has yet to be removed, I presume that the company rather than Google did the removing.

There have been three new reports of Mapspam at the Google Maps For Business Group in the last few days.

Our reporter in the trenches of the florist industry, Cathy, noted a variation on an old theme where a national flower reseller with local phone exchanges makes a common appearance in the Maps for the top 60 or so markets but without any local address (note the map indicator is roundmappinround.jpg and not pointedmappinpoint.jpg.)

I also noted a new type of Mapspam where a national company, The Tire Rack , created a listing for each and every independent tire store that may or may not carry their product and gave each a local business name of “TireRack Independent Recommended Installer” a local business address and the corporate #877 number.

Thus each local Tire Rack installer is listed in Google Maps twice, once with their own phone and once with The Tire Rack’s #800 (877-596-5090). The number when called took me to the corporate switchboard. They seemed to have achieved a new upload record with 3,576 listings. I tired at listing 500.

This practice does not bode well for Maps or independent tire installers. Obviously the day is near in Maps when every Addidas shoe seller or Nikon camera store will be listed with the corporate phone number. And what local retailer wants to forgo their local brand identity to have the supplier of one of their product lines pick up the phone and do who know what with the call.

Now taking nominations: The 2007 Top 10 List of the Bizarre, Funny and/or otherwise Irrelevant blog entries in the Search World


rubber_nominee.gifWe are now accepting nominations for:The 2007 Top 10 List of the Bizarre, Funny and/or otherwise Irrelevant (or Irreverent) blog entries in the Search World.To add a sense of gravitas to this exercise I have invited Bill Slawski and Greg Sterling to act as judges. To honor the SEM world’s grace while shamelessly promoting the industry and others in the industry, I have asked Rand Fishkin and Danny Sullivan to also act in the capacity as judges. And for balance and impartiality I have asked Matt Cutts (answer pending) to be the final arbiter in case of ties or other disputes (Mapsguide Jen has been disqualified as some of the nominated articles may be about her. She has acted in the capacity of comic foil for the whole year so why stop now?).We are now taking nominations. Oh and the rules.There are no rules as to whom or what you can nominate to be on this list with two exceptions:1)In the vein of shameless self promotion I am allowed to nominate my own stories/entries and2) You may also suggest your own categories and entries for those categories ( a hint…great category with but a single entry could be a winner and achieve world wide distribution…well ok I only have 380 regular readers but I am working on that).3)Judges, employees and their families may participateWhat do the winners get? Besides glory and 15 seconds (its a fast paced industry) of fame, you ask? Glad you asked: The Rubber Chicken Award of Literary Excellence to hang on your wall ..er I mean blog (I am way too cheap to actually pay for a wall plaque).Copyright Notice: This blog entry may be copied in whole or in part AS LONG as there is a link back to my site or not. Some restrictions may apply** The link should preferably be from a page with a PR of 4 or higher, it should ideally be in page or category that retains high page rank AFTER it has dropped off the front page. Nofollows are prohibited except where required by (Google’s) law. Sphinning is allowed but preferred if done by groups of 20 or more. Due to server limitations (and fear of controversy) Digging is prohibited BUT stumblupon is encouraged. However if you are inclined to Digg refer to the first rule above.

Google Maps Vs. Yahoo Local Smackdown from a programmer’s perspective


I had an interesting conversation with a programmer whom I respect this morning who was looking at Yahoo Local and Google Maps business listings (in an industry that presumably has nearly 100% website penetration). He pointed out the following:

• Google and Yahoo seem to have almost the same name/address/phone info
• But Google has much better abstracts and web pages (i.e. web site url).
• Google has about 80-90% of its business listings associated with web pages,
• Whereas Yahoo has 52% of its business listings associated with web pages

I have found Yahoo Local’s ranking algo to be simpler than Google’s but it appears that there is more difference in the backend than just that.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search