Saturday 18 Oct 2008
This is the first of a series of short posts I intend to write in order to document my progress with getting a serious error rectified across the 3 major mapping entities: MapQuest, Google Maps and Yahoo Local.
As you may recall, some weeks ago, I was contacted by a small business owner who showed me not only the incorrect placement of his business in the 3 maps but also the proliferation of incorrect data being shown for his region of Hayward, WI.
The gentleman has now become our client and we are building a website for him. It’s looking pretty awesome, if I do say so myself, but the time has now come to begin addressing the fact that any customer trying to find Quast Automotive is being sent astray by Google, Yahoo and Mapquest. Not a good situation!
Here is what I’ve done today as my first efforts to begin alerting the mapping entities to the problem.
When I posted my initial article about this problem, Mark Law of MapQuest was kind enough to stop by the blog and leave an email address for me to contact. So today:
– I sent an email to Mark Law and to MapQuest’s customer support address at email@example.com
– I have created a MyMaps in Google for Auto Repair, Hayward, WI. The MyMaps I’ve created shows the correct location of the client’s business as well as corrections to the missing roads that lead to Quast Automotive.
– I have attempted to get in touch with TeleAtlas by filling out their Maps Insight form. I was not very satisfied with this form. It did not appear to facilitate the reporting of multiple errors. Rather, it funneled me through a series of choices. This would have been okay if I could then have explained the situation to TeleAtlas but they provided only 300 characters for this explanation. So, I was only able to provide a few rough words and a link to the MyMaps map to show them the problem.
– I have posted a thread in the Google Maps Help Group, detailing the situation and linking to the incorrect maps as well as a corrected MyMaps map that the client made of his whole part of town which is rife with errors.
I’ve given up on this for today. When I first searched for the client’s address a couple of weeks ago, Yahoo Local was returning me a map, albeit an incorrect one. Now, I am receiving a message that no such address exists. I also cannot find the business by name. I fiddled with this for 10 minutes before throwing up my hands. I’ll check back in a day or so to see if Yahoo has found the address again. Maybe it’s just a temporary bug.
My Thoughts On This Process So Far
Our friend and respected Local Search colleague, Mike Blumenthal has cautioned us that we need to expect a long wait before we see a resolution to our concerns, and I’m sure he’s right. We intend to knock lots of wood, cross lots of fingers and practice the virtue of patience to the best of our ability while we wait. Working with search engines, we’re used to this kind of lag time, but I can’t help thinking of the dilemma that faces any unaided small business owner who only knows that customers are being sent away from his door but who has no idea how to begin fixing this.
It’s good for me to walk in that small business owner’s shoes. It’s challenging. All 3 mapping entities have set themselves up in the position of a local neighbor from whom you ask directions when you need to get somewhere in town. My hope is to receive a neighborly response to my client’s concerns. Check back for updates on this subject as I chronicle my successes in this effort.
Did 2 more things today. I know, I know – it’s the weekend. I’ll get some sunshine later this afternoon.
– I submitted an error report to Googe Maps Error Reporting Page. It was easy enough to do.
– I then submitted a similar report to Navteq. It was interesting to compare TeleAtlas’ and Navteq’s error reporting forms. Navteq’s form was more thorough, in my opinion and did not stint on room for my comments, unlike TeleAtlas’ form. However, Navteq’s map within the form really fell short of what I think of as intuitive. Unlike their slick applications for MSN, Yahoo, etc. the map struck me as slow loading, very clunky to use and the directions for marking my location were very unclear. I spent at least 20 minutes trying to get the map to hone in on my location. Not a user-friendly experience.
Finally, I heard from the extremely awesome Mark Law of MapQuest today. Needless to say, I am overwhelmingly more impressed with MapQuest at the moment than any of the other mapping entities. Mark is putting my case into the hands of a colleague and I am extremely grateful for this personal concern being shown for my client’s situation. Way to go MapQuest.
It’s an interesting situation…we have 4 main competitors in the local mapping industry: Mapquest, Google, Yahoo and MSN. The drive to distinguish one’s application from one’s competitors’ has to be important to these companies. So far, MapQuest is really standing out as the most neighborly entity to me. Let’s see what the other 3 can do.