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Google Maps Unveils New Local Business Features 82

dhinckley writes "Google Maps has added some new features including pictures of the front of the locations you're searching for. Additionally, Local Businesses can enter custom information about their companies including pictures, websites, what type of payment they accept, and even offer coupons through Google Maps."
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Google Maps Unveils New Local Business Features

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  • "New Google Maps Feature Unveils Local Business Details" would make more sense.
  • where (Score:2, Interesting)

    Where are they getting these pictures of the front of locations? Is it from the Canadian company going around taking pictures of houses? I wonder how much I can make driving around taking pictures of my neighbors houses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mogster ( 459037 )
      Many of well known locations already have plenty of pics floating around. Perhaps they use stock photos. TFA gives the impression that businesses can add their own pics also
    • by iago-vL ( 760581 )
      Depending on what they're wearing, I can offer you up to $1000/photo.
  • Yellow Old Maps (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:19PM (#18281982) Homepage Journal
    Google's database of businesses is very sparse. I routinely search for various product retailers in NYC, and get results showing only a dozen or so stores, when I know there are hundreds of stores matching the search terms. Outside Manhattan it's even worse.

    The map interface is very useful for browsing for brick & mortar stores in convenient locations. But their DB misses so many convenient locations that I don't care if they make one out of my way more convenient. They should spend some of their $billions on a real business database. Then they'd make it back on the ads when everyone uses them as "the new Yellow Pages".
    • People use the Yellow pages because that's where all the businesses are, the businesses use the Yellow pages because that's where all the people look.

      To make it worthwhile for businesses, it'd have to be free.

      • Getting listed in the (original, paper, Bell/AT&T) Yellow Pages isn't free.
        • I know, but it already benefits from the network effect. Businesses are willing to pay because that's where people look for them.
      • You can list on the various yellow books web sites for free, but you have to pay to get in the physical book (or get a better than basic listing on the sites)...It's all about ROI, and they know that the customers get them for 'free' (I say 'free' because they pay for them all year long, whether they like it or not).
        • a lot of the books don't charge for a listing on the website, culling their info from wherever, but DO charge for a link to your website.
          and yellow pages ads aren't even close to cheap.
      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
        I havn't used yellow pages in ages.

        Google maps is imperfect for sure, but it is better than paging through hundreds of listings in different catagories (if you can guess the right one) and then needing to call and find out if it is what you are looking for.

        I use google maps, and then check websites to see if it is a viable place for what I want. It doesn't need to be a nice website, as long as there is a blurb.

        Last time I used the book was for auto glass repair, but a tip from a cop when I filed the police
      • I used to work for the Aussie provider of yellow pages. They were very afraid of losing market share to google.

        In addition to making a search engine that integrated with white/yellow pages and general web they bought one of the local street directory companies for maps.

        Their pitch was that they had all the directory information for homes and businesses through their print media and could provide Australia specific content all from the one web address.

        But if Google employ slick marketing and use smart salesp
      • Yellow Pages? What's that?

        I haven't gotten one of those phone books in a couple of years (since I switched my phone service from Verizon to Comcast).
    • Re:Yellow Old Maps (Score:4, Informative)

      by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:32PM (#18282202)
      I couldn't disagree more. In fact, I think that they're so good, that I have discontinued all of our Yellow Pages listings. In fact, last time I spoke with a Yellow Pages salesperson, she said that not only has she gotten the same response from many businesses, but she's not surprised because xx% of people now go online to find phone numbers, hours, and other business info before they think about using Yellow Pages. Phone books are dead. Stick a fork in 'em.
      • Yes, if you're one of the businesses listed in Google Maps, then of course you prefer it to the Yellow Pages. You have less competition in Google Maps, because their DB is so sparse. Of course, your interest directly conflicts with consumers. And you are one of those consumers in every other business except your own.

        Besides, I didn't say that the Yellow Pages are superior: they can't be searched, emailed, bookmarked, etc. But we're not talking about their UIs. We're talking about their DBs. And even with th
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DogDude ( 805747 )
          In my opinion, Google Maps has a much more accurate database. Partially because the yellow pages is only updated yearly (actually, even less, in certain instances), I, more often than not, find listings that are long since dead. The Yellow Pages lists everybody who has a "business" number, regardless of whether or not they actually are in business. Google Maps/Local requires a tiny but of effort on the part of the business to get listed. Even with completely non-computer related businesses, you're still
          • You're missing the only point I'm making. When I search a 2 mile radius of my NYC home for "video games", I expect to see at least 20 or 30 results. I don't have to schlep to midtown to the Sony Store, but Google Maps would make me. All the convenience of their details means nothing when I have to walk past stores in the next block over just to get to the subway for Google's only outlet.

            Meanwhile, when I see a place in the Yellow Pages, I call and ask if they have what I want. If not, I call the next one. N
            • by DogDude ( 805747 )
              Well, either Google can fix it, or the shopkeepers can just do what the rest of us have already done already... just add it manually to Google. My point is if a shop keeper can go through the headache of buying a very expensive Yellow Pages ad, there's no reason those same shop keepers can't also add their shop to Google, which takes all of 30 seconds. As people start using Google more and more, eventually, they'll all get added, unless the store owner is completely brain dead and has never heard of Googl
              • Yes, I've been pointing out that Google can change, and should.

                Most shopkeepers don't know they can get added to Google Maps. They wouldn't know about buying into the Yellow Pages, either, if the phone company didn't invest a lot of money and time having salespeople call them with solicitations for many years, including now that it's "common knowledge".

                This entire thread you've acted like these two business directories are somehow magically just the way they are. My point has been that Google's maps aren't
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Besides, I didn't say that the Yellow Pages are superior: they can't be searched, emailed, bookmarked, etc. But we're not talking about their UIs. We're talking about their DBs. And even with the Yellow Pages decline, their DB is still much deeper than Google Maps'.

          Actually, the yellow pages are still "searchable" and "bookmarkable".

          • Well, they're (minimally) bookmarkable, but they're just browsable, not searchable. Though I guess asking your assistant or calling 411 does count as a search. I'd bet they'd use Google, and then stick you with the limited selection of vendors.
    • by bitflip ( 49188 )
      I've had the opposite experience, when looking for a locksmith. There were about a dozen in the yellow pages, but none of them were actual stores (I had a special request).

      I looked in Google, and the first hit was an actual shop that I could go into.
      • They weren't stores? What were they?

        And Google's comprehensive locksmith list makes me leery, considering they know where everyone's hidden our extra keys, when we'll be out, what we've bought that's easily fenceable...
    • Yeah, keeping all this stuff current is the real kicker. I started buyindie.net [buyindie.net] back in 2004 mostly as a hobby. It's mostly for DC but is still lacking mostly because it takes an army of volunteers or employees to keep things current because many small business owners either aren't tech saavy enough or don't see the benefits just yet.

      Still, I think Google will do great with this new feature. Frankly, anything that helps keep local businesses going is a plus in my book.

    • by krayyy ( 1061654 )
      i really dig the integration with reviews sites like yelp.com. now they are pulling photos directly from yelp.com too. this is very smart. extra useful.
    • by vgaphil ( 449000 )
      Sparse and inaccurate. I spent half an hour driving around Dallas looking for an Outback Steakhouse that no longer exists. According to Google Maps it did...
  • I wonder how many people are going to get caught with their vehicle parked in front of the local nudie bar or XXX book store and will have to explain things to a spouse. Another issue could be how do they verify the data is from the business owner and not someone with a grudge or unscrupulous competitor. Great idea though, being able to see the front of the place could really help when looking for a building I have never been to.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They know the information is legit, because before updating it they either call or send a postcard to the business. I know, i've gotten a postcard.
  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:27PM (#18282112)
    It only found one "titty bar" in Dallas. Still needs work.
  • White House (Score:5, Funny)

    by KallosEsq ( 1009785 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:29PM (#18282152) Homepage
    That didn't take long at all.
    Check out the white house [google.com] at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20500.

    All the "White House" pictures are making fun of Bush.

    Welcome Google to the same woes as wikipedia.
    • Terrific! It looks like Bush's PR staff worked all night to make sure of the quality of this post. I'm glad to see that no one will abuse this system.
    • by Belgand ( 14099 )
      This is merely because all of the photos are being pulled from Yelp where Google already gets a large degree of their reviews. As such it's less a criticism of Google than one of Yelp (which, honestly, has plenty of problems).
  • Spam Maps... (Score:2, Insightful)

    The last thing I need to see on Google Maps is the location of adult bookstores and coupons for Viagra.
    • Given what happened to the Whitehouse entry, spam is a real worry - also, what if one's competitors write nasty reviews or submit fake information?

      I don't get the sense that there is much protection from joe-jobs here...

  • a very local business [google.com]
    something else... [google.com]

    and some sunbathing topless chicks here and there... concerned about your privacy yet?
    • by synx ( 29979 )
      that's pretty sweet. Mostly not concerned about privacy - this is no different than say, flickr geotagging. It's not real time, it's not video, so we're good.
    • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:48PM (#18282454)

      and some sunbathing topless chicks here and there... concerned about your privacy yet?

      Ya, we're all concerned about privacy, of course. But could you please provide the links to the topless chicks so we can . . . better understand the issues involved?

    • Not really, when your outside you really have zero privacy to speak of. I'm a crazy too about privacy, but not exactly shitting bricks over Google having a single month old (minimum usually ranging to a couple years old) static image of a location that may, or may not have a picture or me or something of mine.
  • I had an idea a couple years ago about starting a massive searchable database of what times companies open and close so you can quit wasting your time driving or calling when there's no one there. Finally it can be done. I wonder if that is something most businesses would find worthwhile to keep updated... it sure would come in handy.
    • Dude, see my posting further down, reference to gonumber.com. We're adding the ability to locate businesses using various search factors, such as "open now" or at a specific time plus other keywords etc. Here's a listing showing our real time opening hours indicator: pressgang.gonumber.com [gonumber.com].
      • by LilGuy ( 150110 )
        Cool idea there, but I can't say much for the implementation. It took me a minute of just staring at the screen to try to figure out what the heck all those buttons were for. If you could slim the interface down to a search and a "time open/closed" I think you'd be much better off, and then you could gradually add more features...

        Just my $.02 though.
  • This is one request I've had for awhile. I know where it is on a map, but I don't know the address. I noticed they added building outlines in parts of LA (where I live). I can't wait till I can point to a business and get directions instead of searching by a nearby intersection.
  • by Ropati ( 111673 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:12PM (#18282816)
    As a business owner I have been upset with Google Maps because their maps didn't correctly position my establishment. With this new feature, I immediately fixed their map location, added 10 pictures, an intro blurb and several other pieces of metadata. This can only improve my business's visibility.

    The end result should be a very accurate database => Google's value rises. This database entry is very happy. All in all a win-win situation.

    I wonder how I fix my stuff on Yahoo and any other search engine.
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:12PM (#18282818) Journal
    Pretty cool, all your changes are made in near real-time. I updated a current listing, and there's options to have them mail you a postcard, or make a call to that business.

    I chose the call, and then picked, 'Call Now'. (As opposed to 5 min from now).

    No sooner did I click it than the phone rang. I picked it up, and a female auto-voice had me punch in a 4 digit code from my screen.

    It then told me they're updating every 4 weeks, and to expect it to take that long for my changes to show.

    All in all, neato. Though the instant phone call tripped the tin-foil hat wearer in me.

    "Mrs. Johnson, we've traced the call TO YOUR CHILD'S BEDROOM!!1!one!!"
    • All in all, neato. Though the instant phone call tripped the tin-foil hat wearer in me.

      If that tripped your foil, you should've been there when google labs had the dial-up voice search thing going on. You called a toll free number, spoke your search criteria, then clicked a link and voila, search results.

      p.s. I didn't bother to check if they still have this feature available

  • But what about they fix the search-engine for regular adresses?? They seem to work in USA, but I live in Denmark, and I can only search for a few very specific cities. Even though the map plainly shows a street-name or a city, it remains unsearchable... Which means that the location can't be saved, and no route can be planned for it (and I can't find anything I didn't allready know where is!). So - fix the damn core functionality, before going about making wierd advertisement functions!
    • Well, I think I found the problem... you live in Denmark. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with Denmark or the people that live there; I'm not about bashing Danes. It's just that Google is a US company that focuses on the US first and everywhere else second. You said it yourself, the problem isn't that address searches don't work... it's that they don't work outside the US.

      In any case, the core function works just fine. The problem is that Denmark's roads haven't been properly input to their road d
      • by tommyhj ( 944468 )
        guess you're right... For the unknowing international user, it's just frustrating that you can see the damn road, but it doesn't turn up on a search. "You're the new intern? Well, we have this map - put the names of all the roads on the map and their coordinates into this database. Have a nice time here with us in Google HQ!" :-)
  • Windows Live Maps (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    maps.live.com [live.com] has been doing most of this stuff for ages already.
    • Hm. That site doesn't seem to like my browser. I believe they'll remain a fringe player in this space until they realize people like to have choices.
  • store hours? It seems like this is the one thing that Google Maps doesn't have. You can find their address, telephone number, and numerous other things, but not what time they open or close.
  • As per porcini.gonumber.com [gonumber.com], we have been including photos and (real time) opening hours for a while, plus coupons, price lists and/or menus. For example, no5belgravia.gonumber.com [gonumber.com]. Yes, we charge for 'listings' in our directory, but include some interesting and innovative features (many more to come) and don't re-sell data or embed any 3rd party advertising within it. Site looks boring, but is nice on a mobile device thanks to some sweet CSS and yes, we're working on a new logo! We use Google maps but hope
    • Meant to mention that a) We are focusing on a few areas of London, England only at this point, plus a few entries from other cities. b) The 'directory' (www.gonumber.com) is morphing into a service, so the term 'directory' may become obsolete in due course.
  • Google maps is already a great way to find information about local businesses. Hopefully they won't add too much stuff, making the service less useful with clutter.
  • It's all wonderful except there is no way to set the business location if Google gets it wrong. I've been trying to get my office location showing the right place on Google for three years now. Emailing them doesn't work, registering with them doesn't help, pleading with them doesn't help. Arg!

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