How to get your information into Google Maps (3): Local data suppliers

I think the most important source of data for Google Maps are the local data suppliers or 3rd party sources.

The biggest difference between the webcrawling results and 3rd party sources is the structure of the data. 3rd Party sources know what the address fields are, how the extra data like reviews is structured, etc. While data from the crawlers isn’t structure at all, as we saw in the previous post.

Types of data

Google made deals with various types of local data providers. Because it’s ‘local’ data, most of these 3rd parties are only active in a specific country. Because of this Google has to make deals for every country and every type of data they want to include on their maps.

Some of the sources provide basic information, others are more specialized on a certain subject or a certain region.

Basic information

Basic information includes name, address and contact information. Google gets this data from general business information providers.

A few examples of these providers are the Chamber of Commerce (Netherlands), Yell.com (UK), YellowPages.ca (Canada), but also publicly available Yellow Pages directories in the US.

Specialized information

Google also uses specialized directory services like directories about hotels, restaurants, tourist information, public transport, etc.

These specialized sources provide basic information about one subject (eg. restaurants), but most of them also provide extra information like user reviews, pricing information and opening hours.

Examples of specialized directories are: Iens.nl, dinnersite.nl, holland.com (Netherlands), toptable.co.uk, restaurant-guide.com (UK), allmenus.com and opentable.com (US).

Regional information

For some areas Google also uses data providers that are only covering a certain region, eg a city.

Examples of these sources are nymag.com, NewYorkCity.com (NY – US), Viewlondon.co.uk (London – UK). I haven’t found examples for this on the maps for the Netherlands, but maybe these will be added in the future.

Your own information

So how can you make sure Google knows about your information? You have to find out which sources Google uses and submit your data to these sources.

Unfortunately Google doesn’t disclose which 3rd party sources they are using, so you’ll have to find them yourself. Search for similar companies on Google Maps, click on the more info link and check the sources in the info balloon (under the ‘Details’ or ‘Reviews’ tab).

Screenshot of the details tab in the info balloon

You can use this information to find out where to submit your own data to (in the screenshot above that would be aol.com’s citysearch, opentable.com and gayot.com)

Nice thing about adding information to these directories is that your general findability will become better, not only on Google Maps.

You have to remember it’ll probably take a long period (6 weeks) before your data will show up in Google Maps.

Reviews

Some of the 3rd party information you can’t change, edit or delete and that are the user reviews and the information on other websites about your company. But this is also true for general search engines.

The only thing you can do is trying to deliver the best quality you can. But also respond to user reviews. Let users know you’re reading them and you’re trying to act on them (if necessary).

You can also add your own business information directly to Google, but that’s the subject for next article in this series.

Disclaimer: There are more sites Google is using than the onces named above, these are examples so you can get an idea of which local sources Google is using.

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