Dec 142011

Google’s desire to know everything and to provide the most comprehensive information keeps evolving. One of their newest efforts is mapping the business’ indoors and making connections between container and contained stores. The first step was a Google Places Quality Guidelines addition from the beginning of August this year. The following rule was introduced:

Some businesses may be located within a mall or a container store, which is a store that contains another business. If your business is within a container store or mall, and you’d like to include this information in your listing, specify the container store in parentheses in the business name field. For example, Starbucks (inside Safeway).

However, this raised a lot of concerns regarding announced that users would be able to look inside shopping malls and other container stores directly via Google Maps (v6.0) for Android. The official launch partners included:

  • Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Daimaru, Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations and more.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT), among others.
  • JR and Tokyu Corporation
Additionally a Floor Plans (Beta) tool for Google Maps was introduced – again based on crowd sourcing. 

A week ago, Google announced that the information for container stores will start appearing on Google Places even if the business owner hasn’t added it to their business title (as suggested by the Quality Guidelines). Furthermore, a section will be added to the overarching location’s Places listing, where all the business locations within it will be listed. Naturally, the following question pops up: “If my business is within a container store, how could I make sure that Google finds this out and adds this information to my listing?” Here is Google’s answer(note: the feature is currently available only in the US):

Our maps algorithms will automatically add an association to your listing if they determine that you’re located within another business. You will not be able to add or request an overarching location to your listing.

If, however, the overarching location generated for your listing is wrong, or you aren’t located within another business, you can let us know using the Report a problem link:

  1. At the bottom of your Place page, click Report a problem.
  2. Choose Listing has incorrect information or spam.
  3. Select Located at for the type of information that is incorrect and explain what is wrong in the Details box.
  4. Submit the form by clicking Report problem.

This practically means that once again the business owners would not have the deciding word when dealing with Google Places. I suppose that the algorithm would look for the address of a business in order to associate it with an already known mall/hospital/business building at this location. If this is so, I expect many problems to occur in no time. Moreover, the Report a problem feature is proven to be working slower than it needs to and it would not be a proper solution to the problem. Is Google once again beta testing with millions of listings?

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