The Suite Life of Google Plus Local Address Issues
September 18th, 2012 by
With Apple in position to steal some of Google’s mobile maps glory, the search giant is starting down a warpath. By boasting to the BBC about the superiority of Google Maps and touting their fancy Ground Truth technology that uses Street View data as an additional factor in verifying Maps data, Google is giving a clear message that they are not taking the replacement lying down.
While I’m sure the battle will be viciously fun to watch, the point that I find interesting is that Google is actually highlighting their error correction capabilities as a selling point. As someone that has spent more time than they would like reporting errors in G+ Local and editing Map Maker listings, I can assure you this isn’t an area I would necessarily be bragging about.
While the current “report a problem” system and Map Maker are definite improvements over previous support features, the whole error reporting system, from a business owner’s perspective, is still an overly convoluted experience that often requires repeated attempts for seemingly simple issues. For example, something as simple as a suite number not appearing where it should can take a significant amount of time and effort to fix, causing major headaches for customers trying to find the location in the meantime.
I’ll elaborate on the suite number issue because it clearly illustrates the struggles that many business owners go through with Google Maps error reporting systems.
Lately, suite numbers haven’t been properly displaying on live G+ Local listings. This has happened even if they were entered in the second address line field in the Local Business Center as is instructed in the Places quality guidelines.
One issue in resolving this is that the “report a problem” interface in G+ Local only offers a single line for editing the entire address. So when you attempt to get the suite number corrected using this method, Google automatically reformats your correction to exclude the suite number. You can override this by selecting your original formatting; however, it seems that then the address incorrectly transfers over to Map Maker as only one field rather than separate address and suite number fields, and the problem usually goes uncorrected because the fields are not properly linked between the two error reporting systems.
Map Maker handles suite numbers differently because, as opposed to the U.S., the majority of the world places the suite number at the beginning of the address rather than at the end. This can cause issues when editing suite numbers in Map Maker; if you place the suite number in the correct field in Map Maker, it typically transfers over to G+ Local incorrectly, with the suite number appearing at the front of the address line. One then has to use the “report a problem” feature to get the attention of someone on the G+ Local team to manually place the suite number in the correct location which involves them going against the correct Map Maker format.
Ultimately, Google needs to create uniform address fields that are correctly mapped throughout all of the databases connected to their local ecosystem. To me, this seems like it would be pretty easy to implement for a company that has the capacity to verify traffic directions by analyzing the road signs captured by their nearly world-wide fleet of Street View vehicles, but it seems I am wrong in that assumption. Maybe Apple has the right idea in using third-party providers to deal with these types of issues for them. Sure, relying on another company seems like it would take longer, but if there is any company that can strong-arm its data providers to meet their demands for quickly-updated, accurate and stable local data, it would be Apple. Let’s keep an eye on this story — as the maps giants duke it out, those of us down on the ground will have to adapt.
Have you had difficulty getting your address to show up properly in G+ Local? How was the process of fixing it?