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Map Maker Returns, Now with Less Vandalism (Maybe)

Ever notice that your favorite local coffee shop isn’t on Google Maps? Or have a hard time finding a business you know is nearby, because they’re not listed? That’s the problem that Google Map Maker was created to solve. And now, after being shuttered for months, Map Maker is coming back.

The idea behind Map Maker is simple: you probably know more about your neighborhood than Google does. So if you and other people in your community start adding businesses, monuments, street names or other features to Google Maps, they’ll be more complete worldwide.

Of course that also invites troublemakers. When anyone can add items to a map, a competitor could add offensive language about your business, or someone could completely mislabel things for fun. Since its launch in 2008 Map Maker has always had controls on such “vandalism,” including a review process for new map edits. But that review process did not live up to the task.

Downfall of Map Maker

Starting in April of this year, a series of embarrassing pranks made their way onto Google Maps. One involved an image of the Google’s Droid robot urinating on the Apple logo. (This did not come from Google itself, but understandably made them look quite bad to the public.) Another was downright taunting: “Google review policy is crap,” declared a message scrawled on the map.

That was too much for Google. By the May, they had shut down the Map Maker edit process, meaning that the site still sat there waiting to be used but no one could actually add new features to it. Map Makers’ once strong user base was locked out.

The Comeback

The lockout will soon be over, according to a blog post from Google. And this time the search engine will have more controls on what goes live. Or rather, the users will.

In order to solve the vandalism problems, Google has “come to the conclusion that of all the defenses available to keeping our maps clean, the interest of a community of well-intentioned users, is among the most reliable and fast.”

That community will now be more structured and trusted users will have more authority. Previously, a user’s map edits were fast tracked as the user gained seniority, which reduced the workload for Google staff but made an opening for patient vandals. Now, volunteer moderators (“Regional Leads”) will review all edits, and act as an extra set of eyeballs before edits reach Google staff.

Will the new controls work? Only time will tell. The new Map Maker reopens in stages starting in August.

Using Map Maker

For local SEO purposes, Map Maker is not the best way to get your business listed. (For that, see our guide to taking control of your Google listing and our Local SEO tips.) But Map Maker can still be useful for your business. Which favorite spots near your office or store aren’t listed on Google Maps? Adding them could give your neighborhood more appeal to customers. It could also make Google Maps more useful for visiting clients or your own employees.

Do you worry about your local SEO? EverSpark Interactive can help. Call us for a free consultation today.