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Been on an extended (long overdue) holiday and missed all this Google maps local search stuff getting up and running in OZ.
And it's gutted my organic rankings in a number of popular search phrases where a locality is included (critical in travel and tourism).
As far as I can tell, most local map results are currently coming from a global media giant (and it looks like they trawled mine and other established local directory style sites to get seed listings) who is partnering Google, so organic results for existing and other newer relevant web pages are pushed below the monitor eyeball line or out of the top 10 natural searches.
Iv'e doubled checked at Google maps local business centre, submit, groups/forums, TOS etc., and can't clarify whether sending a Bulk Business Feed from my Google local business centre account is permissible, or failing that, how I become a "third party data provider".
It all seems targeted at an individual business submitting themselves.
So my question is does anyone know how to become a Google maps local business "third party data provider", or can I just send a bulk feed, and see what happens?
Or should I just tell our customers to go to multinationalbehemoth.com.au/submitlisting/ and fill in the form themselves if they want to appear?
Oh FWIW, we've been established since 1997 and this is the first development I see (as opposed to algo changes/updates, adwords, sponsored listings and all the other "monitization" schemes), that has the potential to seriously impact on our ability to earn a modest living from the web, if the bulk feed/third party data provider option isn't available to us.
Thanks in advance for any insight
Google tend to go for large, established companies to provide the seed data for their local offerings - and they want to do deals that allows them to do pretty much what they want with the data.
If you have very comprehensive data and you are willing to sell it to them with a very open license then they may be interested in what you have - if on the other hand you only have a small percentage of Australian businesses then they are less likely to pay to incorporate that data into their offering.
If your aim is to promote your clients rather than drive traffic to your site then a smaller, but still significant, database (of a high enough quality) may very well be of interest to them if it's being offered for nothing.
Should you fail in grabbing Google's attention then your best bet for your clients would probably be to approach the data provider to Google and do a bulk update of all the records you have - such companies are not likely to turn away free data if it's good enough.
It's essential that your clients' details are correct on Google as the matching that Google does to websites will rely on that - if their data is wrong then they will assume (if they do not know the URL of the client) the real client website is not the authoritative source for information on that company and may pick a directory as the best matching web page for that company! I've seen this time and time again where old data at Google causes the matching to go 'wrong', that's not their fault - it's a symptom of data being really hard to keep up to date everywhere it appears.
It's interesting to note that attempts have been made to make it easier for small companies to keep their data syncronised at all major data providers - I'm not sure how well these efforts are going. You should maybe see if there is an Australian company that offers such a service and consider a bulk update through them.
[added]I forgot to say welcome back... how rude of me[/added]
Thanks for the feedback.
I'd be happy just to get Google to accept and use my data. If they wanted/offered to pay for it that would be a bonus! ;-)
Given that the current partner almost certainly pulled a lot of info from my site and that of other local providers, and are now feeding it to Google; based on your observations, I'm half inclined to do a bulk feed submission of missed businesses, and see what happens.
But .... I'd rather know for sure, maybe have someone from G clarify it (hint hint, anyone ....?).
Anyway, thanks again for the welcome/feedback.
I love holidays, it's so much fun catching up on everything! :-}
They also have an (unpublicized) system where if they 'trust' you (I don't know how they exactly figure that out) all your submissions are also automatically approved.