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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Maps indexing and mapping geoRSS & KML files

The other day when I wrote about the RSS feed results showing up in Google Maps and some of those results showing up in the Maps results I learned a lot:

•Lior from Google Latt-Longblog pointed out that the results from user generated Maps have been showing up in the main Maps results since October.

• Gregor Rothfuss and Barry Hunter pointed out that I could, in MY MAPS save any geoRSS feed or KML into my maps. Lior & Jen-Noel pointed out that it could also come from a Maplet.

•Barry also pointed out that its even possible to load non Geo enabled feeds into GMaps, with a Geocoding converter, and he provided an interface to one here:

That all being said, I still didn’t understand how the feeds were making their way into Maps. I was under the assumption the MY MAPS were “user generated” and to some extent they are. Here is it what the LatLong Blog said:

It’s no secret that our users are the true experts on local information. Sometimes a tip from a friend or a friendly local can make all the difference.

Over the last year, we’ve been working hard to organize this local wisdom; we’ve sifted through millions of My Maps, KML files and other information created by all of you in the geoweb.

Google is in fact indexing geoRSS feeds and KML files from across the web and mapping these into Google Maps next to My Maps created in Google Maps. Occasionally Google is throwing one of these results into the top level Map results that they have indexed from across the web. I may be a little slow on the uptake as it took a while for this fact to sink in: Google is actively searching out and mapping this data. The reason that you are seeing mostly results from MerchantCircle and Topix is that those sites are the first to be geocoding their rss files.

This raises its own interesting questions:

•How is Google using this geodata? Is it being used to reinforce their top level Map results in the Maps ranking algo?

•What ranking factors does Google use to include community mapping info in these top level results? How does one influence and optimize for that? How high can one of these “blue pin” community maps entries go?

•Should a local website have a KML file indicating its location so that Google Maps creates a “community map” of that business? Does a site need a sitemap entry for this KML file?

•Will this KML file become the de facto file to indicate the bricks and mortar location of the local website? And should we start including them on the sites now?

Clearly, Google is building out a Maps structure that will include any and all geotargeted data that it can find. It will come from users with Google’s tools, or from sites generating their own KLM or geoRSS files and Google sucking that info up and mapping it.

As Google improves their ability to parse, evaluate and rank this information it is working its way into the higher level results. How this will play out in the future is unclear. Certainly it bodes for richer and more complete map information available on a broad range of devices like the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the Android phones and any device that can run Google Mobile Maps..

It also appears that any marketer of local sites will at some point need to familiarize themselves with this technology and integrate it into the overall marketing of local sites.