How to get your information into Google Maps (2): Webcrawler

Today was an important day because of Google’s announcements about My Maps and KML search. I’ll talk about these later on in this series, when I’m writing about user generated sources.

This post is about the business data Google gets by crawling the Internet and the use of addresses on your website.

Webcrawler

Google says they are using information they get from their crawlers. I’m not sure whether they are really searching the web for addresses, or they are only using the crawl results to be displayed in the ‘webpages’ tab of the balloon you’ll get when you click on the ‘more info’ link in the Google Maps search results.

Screenshot of a Google Maps info window

HTML address tag

Searching for addresses can be difficult. There’s an address html tag, but what’s inside the address tag, isn’t defined. So if Google uses the information from the address tags they find, they have to use a lot of intelligence to find the correct address.

hCard

Another way of adding address information to your website is using the hCard Microformat specification, like I did on my contact page:


<div class="vcard">
  <span class="fn org">Million Pieces</span>
  <div class="adr">
    <div class="street-address">Kiekstraat 167</div>
      <span class="postal-code">1087 GT</span>
      <span class="locality">Amsterdam</span>
    <div class="country-name">Nederland</div>
  </div>
  <div class="tel">
    <span class="type">work</span>
    <span class="type">cell</span>
    <span class="type">pref</span>
    <span class="value">+31 6 18376041</span>
  </div>
  <a class="email"
href="mailto:info@millionpieces.nl">info@millionpieces.nl</a>
</div>

hCard is a specification which can be used to add structured (and semantically correct) address information to webpages.

Although I’m not aware Google is using hCard to search for addresses at this moment, I think it’s important to use it on your website. Why? There are a few reasons:

  1. Google may start using them – Will this happen soon? I don’t know, but if it happens you can be prepared for it.
  2. Other search engines may start using themTechnorati is already experimenting with a specialized search engine for microformats. You can use it to search for contact information.
  3. Browser plugins can recognize hCard information – There’s a great microformats plugin for Firefox called Operator.

Conclusion: if you have address information on your website, why not use hCard?

This post turned out to be a microformats promotion talk, but next installment will be more about Google Maps. It’ll talk about the 3rd party data sources Google uses.

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