Google Maps going 3D?

This just in from the San Jose Mercury News: Google aims for 3D World

From the article:The Mercury News has learned that Google has quietly licensed the sensing technology developed by a team of Stanford University students that enabled Stanley, a Volkswagon Touareg R5, to win the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge….

The technology will enable Google to map out photo-realistic 3-D versions of cities around the world, and possibly regain ground it has lost to Microsoft’s 3-D mapping application known as Virtual Earth….

Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, available through the 3-D link on, gives a hint of what that future will look like. Thanks to a unique approach to aerial photography, clever algorithms and the application of massive computational power, Microsoft has been able to create exact replicas of more than 50 cities, including San Francisco and San Jose.

Google Earth had 3-D cities, too. But until now, the buildings have been modeled by people, not computers, giving Microsoft’s computer-generated cities a decided edge in completeness.

Local Links of Interest:More on Google’s Universal Search

Interesting Forum conversation on the impact of the Huge Expansion of the Google Onebox at SEORefugee.

Local businesses in Universal search from Google LatLong. Note the comment: We’re excited about this first step in the integration of local results in Universal search and will continue to let you know about developments in this area over the coming months.

Taking advantage of universal search from Google Webmaster Central has some good ideas for other ways to be sure that your business shows up in the Universal Search universe. Perhaps Dave will become a video star? There is no reason to limit your reach to local and organic to achieve reach.

New Google Maps Layout- a work in progress but still unfinished

At SearchEngineLand Greg Sterling has given a mini review of the Maps layout in: Universal Search Spawns New Format for Maps.

From Greg’s post: In conjunction with Universal Search, the Google Maps team created a new “text view” that features images of local businesses and a smaller map. The placement of ads is different, below the map on the right. And there’s a pull-down menu to adjust distance.

Here’s an example for “coffee houses, New York.” The traditional “map view” is a click away. One way you get to text view is by clicking on “local business results …” in what formerly was the Google Maps OneBox (now Universal Search). You can also get there from the “text view” link within Maps.

Several other new features and bugs of note in the restaurant listings:

-Google has added a choice to view the menu provided by other sites (i.e. &

-There are a number of interface issues that give a distinct unfinished feel to the product. For example now when you select the business listing for more details and are presented with a summary of all data, there is no apparent way to return to the list view. Likewise when you view the reviews. The menu choice takes the user off-site completely which is different behavior than all other links.

The deep links of the Map product have a rushed and unfinished feel to them with little internal consistency and too much requirement for back button use.

new Maps view.jpg

Google Local OneBox for Cities: Can’t get there from here

Here are two screen shots of on the Onebox returned for “city + st” search on Google today. Note the differences in map size and the inclusion of the “get directions” field and button in one of the results. I have explored a number of hypothesis as to why & when the difference occurs (existence of adwords, proximity to searcher, population) but none of them consistently offer an explanation. Ideas?

Local Links of Interest:Google’s Universal Search

Many of the changes that we have been seeing in google Maps over the past few days have been part of Google’s new Universal search upgrade. These upgrades magnify the importance of Google Maps as they allow for “The best answer is still the best answer” local results to be inserted in all of Google’s organic search results. This will lead to a dramatic increase of exposure of local data. Greg Sterling estimates that as many as 40% of ALL searches have local intent and as Google figures out which ones are (even without the city, st modifier), we will be seeing Google Maps data much more frequently.

Google’s One-Stop Search to Yield Text and Images – NY times (reg. req’d) An overview of the changes announced at Searchology

Google Maps ‘Text View’ Part of Universal Search – Greg Sterling gives an inkling of the many changes to come in Maps in this and future upgrades.

News & Local Blending in Google 2.0: Google Universal Search– Danny Sullivan has an indepth article on all aspects of the new technology at SEL.

Google’s Universal Search Patent Application – Bill Slaski covers the relevant patent applications at SEO by the Sea.

Very Cool Google Experimental Map view  from the new Google Experimental Search area (via Greg Sterling at Screenwerk)

Google Maps now with updated display

Google Maps has recently upgraded the information that is now displayed with the business. The display now includes images, reviews and owner provided description if available. Note in the after results image, that when an owner entered description was not available, reviews were substituted. This highlights why an owner should control their listing.

Here are two images, a before and after:









Expanded use of the Local OneBox

StateWideOnebox.jpgEarl the Pearl has reported at SEO Refugee of the expanded presence of the Local OneBox on broader geographic phrases and broader business categories. He notes:

Onebox maps are now returned on searches by state names, ie Used cars Florida, Nursing School Pennsylvania. Previously its appearance was more locally focused for queries like used cars Miamia and nursing schools Philadelphia. The onebox also shows for industry secondary terms. Previously it didn’t.

All of which injects the google onebox, the google maps inserts and the google maps algo serps more prominently throughout a far greater variety of localized searches in serps.

These results are appearing both interspersed in the results(as noted by Barry S at the, at the top of the organic search results AND and can achieve featured OneBox status.

It is hard to underestimate the effect that these type of results will on these very broad (geographically) search terms will have on traffic (state + business category). It puts an all new emphasis on the OneBox and its importance for visibility. Continue reading Expanded use of the Local OneBox

Local Search not the be all and end all

Today I received a communication from a reader reporting that he was surprised that his organic “long tale search using local phrases” (i.e. service + locationpage optimization) were still producing solid results for hist website. He said “Actually surprised me.  I figured the one box would have a more dampening effect……and it may have…but this traffic is still strong.

My response: I have never felt that a Local specific Campaign could have more than a very limited overall impact on any business that has regional appeal as you can optimize for so few terms and locations (a design flaw in the algos?)….you use local to get high rankings for your bricks & mortar location and you use longtail for all of the regional variations and markets that you serve…that has been the best bet and continues to be.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search