SMB Dilemma – When All Maps Are Dead Wrong

What do you do when the three major mapping sources – Google, Yahoo, and MapQuest – not only can’t pinpoint your local business, but also don’t believe your road exists?

That’s the situation that came to light in a recent conversation I had with a very nice small business owner in the town of Hayward, Wisconsin. All three of the major sources for local information are returning very bizarre data about this man’s corner of the world, and I would like you to take a look at what I’m seeing and tell me what you think.

Searching By Address
Let’s begin by searching for this business’ address, which is 15989 Nursery Rd., Hayward, WI. MapQuest has incorrectly located this address. The correct location for the business is on a road that MapQuest doesn’t know exists. As you will see in the graphic below, Nursery Road is supposed to connect up with Dyno Drive and the business is actually supposed to be located at the corner of Dyno and Nursery, but MapQuest doesn’t know that:

Missing Road in MapQuest

The business owner pointed this out to me, and also asked me to notice the railroad tracks appearing alongside the highway. According to him, there hasn’t been a railroad there in 40 years. Just where did MapQuest get this weird information from?

So then, we turn to Google Maps, hoping for better accuracy, but this is what we see:

Missing Road in Google Maps

As you can see, Google is having the same problem as MapQuest, with the same incorrect address data and missing road.

So then, we turn to Yahoo, and it gets really weird. Yahoo is putting the business in a completely different location, and as you can see, they also don’t know about the missing road:

Missing Road in Yahoo

Searching By Business Title
Now for the part that will really make you throw up your hands. When I searched for the title of the business, Quast Automotive, Hayward, WI, look at what Google Maps shows me:

Another Wrong Road in Google Maps

As you can see, Google is now showing the business’ address in a completely different location, despite the fact that it is giving the address as 15989 Nursery Road (the same as in my original search for the address). In essence, Google is saying the 15989 Nursery Road is located into two different places. And, yes, the missing road is still gone. *You may notice that this weird new location being given for the business is pinpointing it in roughly the same place Yahoo is erroneously pinpointing it.

What To Do?
What can this business owner do to rectify such huge discrepancies and errors across all three mapping entities? It isn’t just a case of moving a marker to the correct place, because according to the three maps, that road doesn’t exist! I’m putting a proposal together this weekend for a website design project for this nice little company, but what can we do about the major problem of the major engines sending people in every direction but to his door? What would you advise this small business owner to do? I’d appreciate your response.

15 Responses to “SMB Dilemma – When All Maps Are Dead Wrong”

  1. on 19 Sep 2008 at 4:40 pm Dave Oremland

    I’ve had a number of conversations with someone with over a decade experience in the business of providing hard copy print road maps. That industry is dying. It is being replaced by the web street map industry.

    He said and showed me how the web mappers aren’t providing the detail that street mappers provided. His ex employees now work for the web street mappers. They’ve talked to him about different standards.

    The web street mappers simply aren’t as accurate as the older dying print street mappers were. They don’t use the depth or standards in ascertaining accurate information.

    This looks like an example of this phenomena. For whatever reason, the mapping companies that supply mapquest, google, and yahoo have supplied difficient information.

    Not sure how the engines can help at this point. Garbage in Garbage out.

    Is there a way to get accurate street map information from the county or the local jurisdiction? They should have the information. Is there a way to get the accurate county information to the engines and Mapquest? Will the engines and mapquest correct or get their mapping partners to correct the information?

    I would think there is some official information that shows the accurate street information. I’d try to get it into the hands of the mapping companies and their customer’s Google, Yahoo, and Mapquest.

    If those companies are slow I’d complain loud and clear about what a lousy and inaccurate job they are doing so the media can pick it up.

    Dave

  2. on 19 Sep 2008 at 5:10 pm Mike Blumenthal

    Hi Miriam

    The problem is that the underlying geo data is non existent. The source for all geodata is either TeleAtlas or NavTeq.

    Google is now using TeleAtlas exclusively and the url for corrections is: http://www.teleatlas.com/ForConsumers/MapFeedback/index.htm

    I am sure that Navtqeq’s can be easily located. I have yet to need to make this sort of correction but from what I understand it could be 5-6 months for the correction to show.

    Mike

  3. on 19 Sep 2008 at 7:56 pm Mike Blumenthal

    Here is the NAVTEQ consumer error reporting link:

    http://mapreporter.navteq.com/dur-web-external/secured/submitDur.do?userType=CONSUMER

    Mike

  4. on 19 Sep 2008 at 9:34 pm admin

    Hey Mike,
    Thank you for your response, and for those links. 5-6 months, huh? Gosh, that sure is a long time. We’ll have to give it a try, though, if we take this client on. It’s just not good that anyone trying to find him is going to be sent to the wrong place, and from what the gentleman told me, his whole neighborhood is mapped incorrectly. Guess, the cartographers didn’t fly in too close when they were over Hayward, WI.

    Thanks, Mike.
    Miriam

  5. on 20 Sep 2008 at 10:41 am Mark Law

    Miriam

    At MapQuest we ask our Users to e-mail us at info@mapquest.com when they experience such issues. The e-mail is received directly by our Customer Support team who then conduct an investigation and will contact our data providers if required.

    At MQ we totally understand your frustration and I have taken the liberty to pass this situation onto the Cust Sup team on your behalf.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Law
    VP, MapQuest

  6. on 20 Sep 2008 at 10:53 am David Mihm

    Hey Miriam,

    Glad that Mike responded because he’s clearly the expert on this issue. Given the # of businesses we see ranking despite a “floating” marker, I would think that citations listing the same information, even if its incorrect in the maps, would still accumulate some power behind the man’s listing?

  7. on 20 Sep 2008 at 1:40 pm admin

    Welcome, Mark!
    Thank you so much for your kind and informative response to this situation. I really appreciate you letting your team know about the discrepancy. It would be great if we could resolve this situation, and whether or not I end up working with this client, we will certainly let them know about your response to their predicament. Thank you for that.

    And, while I have your ear, allow me to congratulate MQ on the visual appeal of your maps. They are very easy to read and use, and we use MQ often!

    Kind Regards,
    Miriam

  8. on 20 Sep 2008 at 1:44 pm admin

    Hey, David,
    Nice to see you here. I’m confident that we can definitely begin to pack power behind this potential client’s business listing, for relevance/ranking purposes, but unless we can get the address location fixed, the business will have to tell anyone who calls to look at the map on their own site rather than on the mapping entities. A hassle and awkward conversation to have to have, rather than simply letting customers use the various maps, as intended.

    But, perhaps we can work towards getting this resolved, if Google and Yahoo will be as accessible as MQ has just shown me they are!

    Thanks for coming by, David.
    Miriam

  9. on 21 Sep 2008 at 5:32 am Mike Blumenthal

    @David

    The bizarre reason for round pins showing up on some searches is that Google defaults their no address to the centroid.

    @Mark Law

    I appreciate you stopping by and providing feedback to Miriam. I wonder if you could share with us what Mapquest’s procedures and outcomes are in a situation like this when it is reported to you.

    Does Mapquest make the changes directly or immediately? I assume that you feed it back to your data provider, if that is the case how long does it take for the info to show back up on your map?

    Mike


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  11. on 22 Sep 2008 at 7:02 pm David Cox

    I would love to hear if you do take on this customer if making a correction on My Maps a public edit will show up on Google Maps when they search for it. I read about it on Mikes blog and would love to hear how it works in a real world application. At the Google Maps Help Center – Fix an Error on Google Maps notes that “you can put your own road or neighborhood on the map using My Maps quite easily as a temporary fix…Once you’re done, all public maps will be searchable in Google Maps almost immediately.” I would love to have you try it and report vs me be the tester


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