You've all seen this before. You're exploring Google Maps, and you see businesses that are listed directly on the map. Have you ever wondered why some businesses show up with their own label, while others don’t? Well, you're not alone.
Google has made some recent changes to Maps, which are quite imperative to SEO’s. As of April 19, 2011, Google Map Maker is now available for the United States. According to Google:
Today we announced Google Map Maker for the United States, enabling users to add their expert local knowledge to the map directly through this free online tool. Users often have the best and most up-to-date knowledge of the places that matter to them, and with Google Map Maker–now available for 187 countries and regions around the world–we’re working to make this information available to you and your customers.
As Google embraces social, it’s only logical that this focus shifts towards their other products. Self-mapping is a great way to keep maps updated and filled with great content, and it ultimately allows Google to continue to define the market for online maps.
So, what does this mean for those of you out there who do Local SEO?
Well, it means that the elusive Places Label is now more attainable.
In the past, acquiring a Places Label for your business was a seemingly random occurrence, as Google attempted to verify the locations of businesses algorithmically.
The best you could do to try and get a Place Label was to:
It became even more difficult if your business had moved, changed names, or if the boundaries of your zip code changed. There are certainly some major problems with this method.
The algorithmic determination for Place Labels seemed to work well for large organizations, but left smaller, local businesses in the dust.
Google knows this, and has simplified this process in a typical Google-like fashion by releasing Map Maker in the US. While it’s always a good idea to make sure the big Internet yellow pages and other sites have your address correct, it just now seems less imperative.
Here’s a step-by-step process on how to add your business to Google Maps via Map Maker:
1) Log in to Google Map Maker: http://www.google.com/mapmaker
2) Now, go into the Map Maker interface, and search for your business location.
3) Assuming you have already listed your place of business on Google Places, it should show up as a red dot on the map. Click on the red dot, and then click “Edit this place”. Ours is slightly more complicated, as our building has a few tenants (like a reception hall).
4) Fill out the information accordingly, and click “Save” when you are finished.
Map Maker edits need to be approved before they take effect, and they can take a good deal of time for this to happen. The good news is that anyone can approve listings – much like Wikipedia, where the editorial system keeps spam in check.
These edits take time, so it’s best to keep tabs on the status of your place label.
Quick tip: the more you approve listings in your area, the quicker you can get your edits approved.
We at Internet Exposure gave this process a try, and well, look for yourself to see the results.
Now, we don’t claim to know the secrets of Google’s inner workings – we just used this simple process, and it worked for us. Hopefully, you can make it work for you as well.
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“Map Maker edits need to be approved before they take effect, and they can take a good deal of time for this to happen. The good news is that anyone can approve listings â€“ much like Wikipedia, where the editorial system keeps spam in check.
These edits take time, so itâ€™s best to keep tabs on the status of your place label.
Quick tip: the more you approve listings in your area, the quicker you can get your edits approved.”
sounds very wikepedia like.
Soem of us local SEO'ers should network so we can speed up the approval process on edits in Map Maker.
I use to play with “my maps” a lot, but I haven’t yet played with “Map Maker” can’t wait.
Hey Scott, great stuff. I’m in the UK so I am off to try this out. But my bet is Google will run this in a couple of weeks for the UK…the US and the UK still seem to be two countries divided by the same language!
Thanks for bringing this to our attention, and for the tutorial. Now we’re waiting for MapMaker to be ok for editing here in Canada; hopefully soon :–)
Thanks for the comment! Glad you enjoyed my post.
That’s a good idea regarding a Local SEO network – although certain reviewers can always override changes, just like wikipedia.
I think the best plan of action is to get mapping to increase your “trust” ranking, and therefore have your edits approved quicker.
Thanks for the comment!
It is quite unfortunate that Google’s features don’t transcend our borders… but hopefully it will come to your side of the pond soon.
In the meantime, you lucky Brits get a fresh season of Top Gear – so that’ll have to do :)
No problem! Glad I could help.
I’m sure the tool will be available in the Great White North soon. After all, we border you guys – you should get to join in the fun too!
This is one very cool feature. I also like the integration into Google Pulse.
I’ve done a few of these and find it to be pretty fun. I’m really interested to see it’s effects on local SEO. Will weight be given to pages that have been human edited/approved?
Nice post… will be sharing with friends.
This is great! Thanks for the tip. I’ll start using it on my clients' sites asap.
Great article and how to steps, Scott. I actually got my Dad’s business edited, reviwed, and approved today.
Thanks for the comment! Glad you enjoyed it.
Now share away!!
You’re very welcome! Let me know how it works for you.
Thanks for the kind words. Nice work with your Dad’s business! That reminds me, I have to do that too…
Nice post – thanks!
Can you think of any situations where a listing would show up in Google Maps, but be absent in Google Map Maker? This is happening to me and I can’t figure out what’s causing it.
Thanks for the comment! I’ll send you an email.
Thank you for posting this! This is really going to give us an SEO boost.
Scott – very cool and helpful post. Thanks for putting it together.
You’re very welcome. Glad you liked it!
Great tutorial, Scott, and I was really looking forward to trying it out.
But, six weeks on from Boyd’s comment, it still hasn’t made it to the UK :( Really hope it’s not going to be like QR Codes and be discarded just as it’s about to go live here.
It’s so frustrating seeing you guys playing with all these lovely toys and not be able to use them.
Ah well, only five hours until Top Gear :)
Thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked it!
Did you have a chance to check out the Part 2 post? http://www.iexposure.com/2011/07/26/how-to-get-a-google-places-label-part-2-update
I’m sure it’s a feature that will be rolled out across the pond in the near future – we all know how Google likes to test and experiment.
Hope that episode of Top Gear was awesome!! I wish there were more than six episodes this season :(
More importantly, I think this will be good for the typical “Ma and Pa” places. There are too many great restaurants and stores owned by local “Ma and Pa’s” that nobody knows about.
You mentioned that your listing process was “slightly more complicated, as our building has a few tenants (like a reception hall).” However, you didn’t mention what complications you had and how you resolved them. We have had this problem registering several businesses housed in buildings with more than one business. Just wondering what you did.
Thanks for the comment.
Regarding the “multiple tenants” issue, our building’s separate tenants are technically at different addresses. I merely threw that statement in there as the Mapmaker interface can be a bit confusing when there are multiple placemarkers stacked upon one another.
However, you can physically move the icons – which you’ll see in the screenshots above.
I think what you’re mentioning is a very common issue with Local listings, as many businesses operate in buildings that house multiple tenants. In that case, you need to be specific when it comes to listing the USPS mailing address – i.e. list unit or suite numbers.
It’s not available in the UK yet :(
Sorry about that. I wish they’d just open it up for everyone!
Thanks for the comment!
Scott – thanks so much! We were able to get our places label using this post – you rock :)
So to clarify, in mapmaker all we have todo is just add more information to our existing feature and then it will display as an icon on Google’s map? I truly hope this works, thanks for walkthrough.
Scott – Thanks for the info. Do you have any ideas on how to deal with a duplicate Google Places entry due to virtual phone number, in a different city? It’s driving us crazy, we’ve edited numerous times and it always reverts back to the original entry! Any advice would be appreciated. Thx =)
Google is pulling the information from another website. They get much of their local information from other internet yellow pages and directories that they trust.
You need to not only edit the phone number on Google, but (ideally) everywhere else you can find it on the web. Use the phone number itself as your search query to find where else you need to edit it.
If you don’t change where Google is pulling the information from, next time they crawl that source they’ll go ‘ok we trust this source, looks like we have the wrong information in our database, oops better fix it!’ and then you’ll be right back where you started.
Thanks Jason, makes sense.