April 2012

Google Map Outdated And Wrong – Documenting The Reporting Process

One of our valued clients, Emerson Creek Pottery is experiencing a serious issue with the way in which Google has mapped their locale and pinned their location.

The client’s correct location is at:

Emerson Creek Pottery
1068 Pottery Lane
Bedford, VA
24523

The Google Place Page for the client is listing them at an erroneous address on the nearby highway, but instead of going through the normal process of correcting the address, we are dealing with a far more complex issue because the map and labeling of the area is wrong. A private driveway is incorrectly labeled as being Pottery Ln., and the actual Pottery Ln. is being mislabeled as both Pecks Rd. and State Route 725. Roads that dead end at the private driveway are being displayed on the map as if they were accessible to the public. A whole lot of problems. See my illustration here and click for an enlarged lightbox:

Map for Emerson Creek Pottery

Click Here to View Larger Image

I needed advice on how to proceed, as I cannot change the address or move the pin until the roads are correctly displayed on the map. Google TC and Local SEO extraordinare, Mike Blumenthal kindly suggested that I make multiple reports via the Google ‘Report A Problem’ link at the bottom of the Place Page, dropping a pin at each point of error. These reports will then apparently flow into Google MapMaker. This will certainly be time consuming on my part, but definitely worth it if I can communicate to Google that their map is wrong and get it corrected. I felt it would be worth it to document the process here for others who find themselves in a similar situation.

After speaking with the client about this, we were able to discern that the incorrect map probably has its roots in the fact that this region used to be dirt roads that were then paved and changed some 5+ years ago. Google’s map is somewhat of a reflection of the old dirt road system and does not accurately reflect the roads drivers will find there if they are visiting the pottery today.

I will update this blog post as I make progress.

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Update 4/19/2012
Made three separate reports regarding the various issues, doing my best to describe the problems with the map and address.

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Update 4/23/2012
Made a new report highlighting the fact that Google is incorrectly displaying a pinned results next to a business name search in the main engine. Google is confusing a restaurant in Illinois that sells some of this client’s pottery with their actual pottery shop in Bedford, VA. Misleading to Internet searchers. *Note, some problems are so complex and Google wants you to state them in 1000 characters. Difficult to do.

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Update 4/30/2012
Client received several emails like this from Google:

Hi Jim Leavitt,

Thanks again for sharing your local expertise with other Google users! We have reviewed Emerson Creek Pottery because of your report.

If there is still anything wrong in our information about Emerson Creek
Pottery on Google Maps
(http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=7610707399891290515), please consider updating it directly via the “edit” link, or reporting another problem.

Thanks for your help
The Google Maps team

Nothing has been fixed by Google, so we’re not any further along in the process after taking the time to report all of these things. I have to consider what steps to take next.

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Copy That Amuses, Copy That Enrages – Notes On The Power Of Words

I’ve just finished reading an educational, entertaining book entitled Save The Deli by David Sax. In this unusual sociological work, Sax chronicles the origins of Jewish delicatessen, the disappearance of once-thriving delis from the world food scene and his personal hope in the lasting power of the deli in the future. This was a good read with some very memorable stories. Perhaps inescapably because of its subject, Save The Deli includes numerous anecdotes relating to cherished Jewish humor as well as heart-scalding stories of horror. Two such examples leapt off the page at me while reading Save The Deli that I feel are worth sharing as illustrations of the power of the written word and its potential for good or ill.

Make ‘Em Laugh
Here is an old slogan crafted by deli owner Bob Protzel and once adorning the walls of Protzel’s Deli.

CHOPPED LIVER
$17,980.00 per Ton
May be Purchased in Smaller Quantities

I actually laughed out loud when I encountered this in Sax’s book. You’ve got to be very clever to write humorous slogans, and if done correctly, they can do a remarkable job of grabbing a reader’s attention. If you’re considering using humor in your copy, run it by a lot of disinterested people first to see if they think it’s funny, too. It’s very easy to bomb out when you’re trying to be funny in print. Study the chopped liver slogan. In a few brief words, it engages because of its element of surprise (who is going to buy a TON of liver?), it suggests that people are so crazy about this dish that they actually would purchase a ton of it and it displays an amusing, positive confidence on the part of the business owner in the quality of his product. What a great combination!

The Dark Side
Words can foster laughter, and they can also breed hatred. David Sax describes a law that forbid Jewish citizens from purchase property in Miami Beach, Florida until 1936. Right there, on the cusp of the atrocity of the Holocaust, real estate copywriters were publicizing this stomach-turning slogan:

Always a view, never a Jew.

I am sure that some fool thought they were being clever and cutesy coining this copy, but I actually held the book farther away from myself when I read it because it so disgusted me. National takeaways from this: the U.S. needs to bend over backwards to guard against the intolerable sentiments that have stained the country’s history with shame and blood. And, we absolutely must recognize just how persuasive the words and symbols of advertising can be. America has produced everything from a gun advertised as guaranteed to make ‘good Indians’ by killing them, to classifieds for the sale of African American human beings, to hand scrawled signs for ‘no Irish need apply’ to hand held signs in Little Rock, Arkansas telling little school children to go home in the most opprobrious, racist slang. In this country, we are always just a footstep away from violent bigotry. We’ve got to be wide awake and vigilant about this.

Copywriting takeaways: there are still plenty of businesses and organizations on American soil that are profiting from harm of people and planet. If you have a talent with words, judiciously choose for whom you will use that talent. Playwright, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, spoke true in 1839 when he proclaimed,

“The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless!”

I think it’s an honor to write for people. And a responsibility. Be true to your highest good in your work.

Google Places Hide Address Controversy – A Screencast

This screencast presents opinion on the new hide address policy in Google Places and why it may make local search results less relevant in important decision-making situations. Please check it out, and thanks for watching!