Google Maps: Listings Still Merged; Centroid Losing Prominence?

Author: Gab Goldenberg

I wrote a while back that Google Maps Guide Jen offered a way to demerge merged listings in Google Maps. Well, while things seem to have gotten better, it appears that the filtering on Google Maps still isn’t perfected. Consider these reviews of a hotel. The reference to a hostel is due to a sister business being located in the building’s annex.

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 Great hostel!…?? – May 11, 2008
It was very clean and tidy, close to all the nicest clubs, bars and restaurants. The staff will give you all the information that you may possibly need. Also, a very important part ?
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Rated 2.0 out of 5.0 I would say find a better one…?A TripAdvisor Member? – Jul 2, 2008
First of all, I didn’t see anywhere that says this is a HOSTEL. If it does say then I take the blame for it. Here is the story:We arrived at the “Hotel” and the lady was nice did ?
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And this one:

Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 Dirty, smelly, and possibly disease ridden?A TripAdvisor Member? – Aug 16, 2006
They don’t mention anywhere on their website that they are also a hostel. Not to mention a very bad hostel who puts their guests in the musty basement. I am so sorry for anyone who ?
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Or this:
Rated 3.5 out of 5.0 The hostel isnt a hostel and so noone…?? – May 31, 2008
knows where it is if you say you are staying at Montreal Backpackers. Its a nice place but if you want to meet people you will be lucky to as there is only 20 beds available in dorm rooms – total! ?
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Note: Another problem with Google Maps is that like the main Google algo, it gives preference to older reviews. The issue is that showing reviews from 2005, 2006 and even 2007 to an extent, doesn’t allow for a business’ ability to improve itself over time and earn better reviews. And in fact, for the above mentioned hotel, the 2008 reviews are generally better than those of previous years as a result of renovations etc.

But if you’re a casual user in a hurry, all you see are average/mediocre reviews [partly due to merged listings and partly due to a previously lower quality offering] and not the improvement. We all know that people only look at the first page of SERPs; relegating the fresh material to page 3 results in inaccurate reviews appearing and a poor user experience.

On a related note to all this, I noticed this on Google Maps explanation of how it ranks sites:
“Sometimes our search technology decides that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer. ”
Interesting… Would love to hear Dave, Martin, Mike Be., Mike Bl., Miriam, Chris S., Matt, Andrew, Greg, Ian‘s and any other local experts thoughts on the topic.
Source: http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=7091&topic=13435

Looks like the centroid is becoming less important, perhaps?

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Comments

  1. Our research indicates that on queries where Google has very few signals to go on (ie few business websites, no reviews, limited number of web references) the distance from the centroid accounts for as much as 80% of the variability in rank. On queries where Google has a large number of signals for ranking (well optimized websites, lots of reviews, a large number of geo web references (citations) then the importance of distance to the centroid drops in importance and predicts (very roughly) 20-30% of the variability. It is not so much that distance to centroid has become less important, its that Google has many more data points to now go on to assign a ranking. I believe that this has been the case for a while. Mike Blumenthal Ed: NY Web Hosting

    Comment by Mike Blumenthal - August 21, 2008 @ 10:51am
  2. Hey Gab, Your point about review order is an interesting one. I actually haven't seen any noticeable rhyme or reason to the sequence of reviews...take a look at this LBL just as one example: http://tinyurl.com/6s6sd5. There are reviews from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 all on the first page of reviews... I absolutely think that centroid dominance is becoming less important, particularly in industries which have a high number of additional signals such as links, citations, and businesses that have claimed their LBL's. Check the research that I did with Mike Blumenthal and several others on this: ranking-factors-in-google-maps-cracking-the-code-smx-local/ Edit: Added dofollow to David Mihm's Local SEO & web design.

    Comment by David Mihm - August 21, 2008 @ 11:10am

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