Google Maps is Local Search

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Posted by Jim Hedger @ 10:14 am

While the concept of local search is obviously important, Google does not promote its local search features as stand-alone products. Google Maps is the primary interface for local search at Google but there are few prompts or cues on search results page directing users to try local search.

Unlike Yahoo, Google does not push or promote its local results as a direct service for a couple of reasons. First, Google mergers local results in with increasingly personalized or regionalised results. Second, general search results from Google Maps are not always as accurate as its general web search results.

Search results at Google that include city or place names will often include a map showing businesses related to the search query. For example, the search query “Hotel Seattle” brings up this result set. Clicking on the map takes users to a Google Maps search. Above the map a text link reads, “Local business results for hotel near Seattle WA” which leads to a set of local results. A similar search for “museum Seattle” produces similar results, as does “restaurant Seattle

A problem with Google Maps is the accuracy of its results. While it has been easy to find automotive care, home repair and equity financing (home loans) using Google Maps, errors creep into results sets when searching for web services, housing, or other less popular query sets. For instance, check out a Google Map search for “SEO Seattle“. While the first result would be considered very accurate, subsequent references to the Watertown Hotel or Ivar’s Salmon House are not necessarily the results a searcher would be looking for.

Google is able to spider sites, pull relevant keywords and apply them against geographic information. The Watertown Hotel and Ivar’s Salmon House appear as #2 and #3 in the SEO Seattle query because SEO events or dinners have been held in those locations and those events were blogged about on a SEO site. The references to the Watertown and Ivan’s come from a post made to HighRankings.com in the spring of 2005.

To improve Google’s chances of placing your site or a client’s site properly through Google Map (local) search, the establishment of a Google user account is required at the Google Local Business Center. When signed in, a page asking for information on the business comes up. Required information includes, the business name, street, city, state/province and zip/postal code, country, phone, email, URL and a 200 character description of the business. Businesses with more than 10 locations are asked to submit a simple bulk business data file.

A completed registration will place your business on a Google Map and help insure it comes up correctly under relevant keyword phrases in general web searches. There are too many reasons to outline why a site needs to be listed in Google Maps aside from bettering their chances of coming up in a general web search.

The most compelling reason is that users are increasingly expecting personalized and localized data and are seeking it from smaller and smaller devices. It is only a matter of time before the majority of shopping and daily task searches are conducted from a mobile or other handheld or vehicle related device. Making sure you and your clients are well represented in Google Maps is an important step to take today because when thinking about Google and web search in general, tomorrow is merely moments away.

16 Comments »

  1. Google also allows you to use their maps via an API. Basically, you can add the mapping component from Google into any directory you may have. This could be a group of franchises, a membership lisy or in my case I use it for two local business directories. These are BIG directories of 1.2 and 1.6 milltion records, all with free Google maps. You xcan see the inmplementation at http://www.UK-Local-Search.co.uk and http://www.AussieWeb.com.au

    Comment by Monte Huebsch — Sunday, December 2, 2007 @ 6:46 pm

  2. Well said, Monte! I get a load of traffic from Google maps for my used cars site, http://www.used-car.com.au

    It’s ranked No. 1 when you do a search for “Used Cars Sydney”

    This is because it has a lot of link popularity for that term and is linked from my mine site, http://www.searchengine-guy.com.au

    Comment by Bruce Gow — Friday, December 14, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  3. Echoing Monte’s comment, I’ve been using Google Maps API for a long time in my website design business. Its a brilliant tool for clients’ “contact us” pages and allows for many features such as multiple location points, polylines, directions, and much much more using simple Java Script.

    It only takes a few minutes to setup a basic map, but the results are very useful. Some examples of Google maps for business clients.

    Comment by Rob — Saturday, December 15, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

  4. Hi jim

    Really nice article…I am novice in the field of SEO. Could you please let me know how to optimize site on google maps.

    thanks in advance.

    Comment by Manish Chauhan — Monday, February 4, 2008 @ 5:16 am

  5. Am just starting to research this very topic and wow, it is rather tricky…

    The information that one is collecting seems at this stage to be rather confusing…

    Comment by Pyrmont — Thursday, May 8, 2008 @ 6:23 am

  6. hello
    jim… this is very good article …i have started to study about Google map recently and put for my website in HRM category. i stand at search engine result page on the 6th number for internate technology services but when i search it for Google map i didn’t find myself there.what can be the reason of it .is there any other optimization method Google map. if yes so please share it with us. thank you

    Comment by marketraise — Tuesday, July 15, 2008 @ 7:01 am

  7. We get a lot of traffic from Google maps for people searching for “Miami florists” in Google and ending up at Miami florists

    We are ranked No. 1 for a lot of terms locally. Our problem has been how to get ranked for other terms like Miami Wedding Flowers. That’s our next goal.

    Comment by Trias — Thursday, July 24, 2008 @ 8:43 am

  8. i have started to study about Google map recently and put for my website in HRM category. i stand at search engine result page on the 6th number for internate laptop batteries technology services but when i search it for Google map i didn’t find myself there.what can be the reason of it .is there any other optimization method Google map. if yes so please share it with us.

    Comment by laptop battery — Saturday, August 30, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

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  12. This isn’t quite the science SEO is – IF/WHEN the real algorithm in use by Google gets out I have a feeling we are in for a rat race!

    Comment by Mr. ROI – Portland Web Design — Thursday, May 28, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  13. You can also be more specific and use geographical targeting & use suburbs rather than cities. this makes Google maps perfect to get targeted traffic.

    Comment by SEO — Sunday, May 31, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  14. As a local moving company lots of our business depends on googlr maps

    Comment by Los Angeles Moving Company — Monday, July 27, 2009 @ 7:05 pm

  15. Really important topic and getting more important every day!

    Comment by Manly — Thursday, September 17, 2009 @ 2:38 am

  16. I recently had my company listed in Google’s local business listings but we still do not appear on google maps results. Thank you for the article, it helps to read all these tips and hopefully use them to boost our rankings and hence my paycheck.

    I have heard that adding 5+ photos to your local listing will help.

    Comment by John Hannula Glass — Monday, October 19, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

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