• http://www.insurancelongisland.net sunkist219

    This is a great post! You answered one of the questions that I’ve been asking for a long time!

  • Cathy R

    Chris -

    With all due respect, this has to be one of the swiftest ways to futher pollute Local/Maps and confuse users.

    What about the guy who’s using his iPhone to locate a locksmith to get copies of a key made. Maps shows the street address for a dummied-up PO Box and he wastes valuable time driving to the MFM (Made for Maps) ‘location’. There are an infinite number of variations to this MFM theme, all which ‘serve’ the business far more than the user/consumer.

    Local locksmiths, carpet cleaners, movers, florists and darn near any type of business that includes an affiliate model or offers come-to-you services all deal with not-really-local ‘locals’ in their respective categories.

    As a business owner who services multiple communities via delivery, I understand the desire to appear in as many city and zip code queries as possible. Yes, SEO and locally targeted Adwords take work and dollars, but resorting to the display of false location addresses to game Google or any other SE speaks volumes about the integrity of the business as well as its owner.

    No matter how it’s sliced, renting multiple PO Boxes to mislead consumers as to the physical locations of a business is less than honest and I hope local business owners think very hard before heading down that road.

  • http://www.distilled.co.uk/blog/ willcritchlow

    One interesting extension to this is if you genuinely have physical addresses in multiple locations and need to list in multiple languages (e.g. a hotel chain in Europe with hotels in Germany and France and website in French and German). There is currently no supported way of registering both locations in both languages (even though the business has a physical presence in both places.

    Any thoughts on ways around that?

  • http://silvery.com Chris Smith

    Cathy R – what you’re describing is already the current situation. There were already mere mailing addresses appearing within Google Maps. Indeed, you can’t appear within Google Maps without a street address.

    This situation is something that Google Maps could fix, if they chose to immitate some of the more sophisticated work that online yellow pages have done in the past. They could show a non-pinpoint icon for an area, when it’s a service provider for the local area who does not offer a brick-and-mortar storefront. (Indeed, Google Maps has been doing that already to a tiny degree, when they’ve received business listings from online yellow pages partners of theirs, and when those listings do not have a street address!)

    A basic issue is that Google Maps has presented themselves as something of an equivalent or replacement for online yellow pages — so, consumers expect to find all the same types of businesses such as plumbers, electricians, building contractors, chimney sweeps, locksmiths, towtrucks, etc — all who may not have street addresses at all.

    To refer to this as “pollution” or “dishonest” on the parts of those many small businesses is imperceptive of the big picture. At base, consumers expect to find all their local businesses within Google Maps, so, leaving the businesses out of the interface would be a much poorer user experience than including them.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

  • http://silvery.com Chris Smith

    Will, I think the best approach for what you describe would be to supply each of those listings with a single URL and use content negotiation to sense the preferred language settings of the users’ browser.

    In that way, if a user prefers French, you deliver up a French webpage to them. If they prefer German, deliver up German — English, deliver up English — etc.

  • mbeijk

    @willcritchlow

    I would also suggest adding custom attribute, as used in the Google Local Business Center.
    Add a custom attribute for the service area, countries served, languages spoken, or ‘other locations’.. be creative!