Google Mapping Out Its Search Results

SMS Text

Seems Google has gone crazy integrating its map application into the search results these days. At first it required a town reference to be included in the search words to invoke a mapped response, but now it seems any number of things can cause Google to show you a map. One would think they are monetizing the views they get so much play.

And these results are not in the usual third spot – pushing down (to many of my clients’ complaints) regular listings to below the fold. But hey it is their company and their presentation – we can always go elsewhere…. Yeah right.

So what is happening? I was doing a search for a conference when I first noticed this happening. You would think Google would use a little more exact matching when evoking the map option – but obviously not. My brother was coming to San Francisco for a medical conference but I did not know  which one so I did a ssearch – San Francisco medical conference. You would think it was specific enough… I did not realize it was too specific. The number one result as shown below was for a specific conference room.


This had me curious to see what other gems I could come across. In the process I started to see just how much Google has dialed up their map inclusion. But also the randomness of how and where they will put them. So I did a couple of searches for city based conferences in industries that should have enough strength on their own to dominate the results.

First I did one for New York search conference and as you can see below Search Engine Strategies pulls off the number one spot with a map – am starting to think it is like music charts and they should be thought of as bullets.


So I continued on the search conference quest and this time did Philadelphia. Here the multi-mapped results appear in the third spot. But the results are for specific hotels with no connection in the results to a search conference. Come on Google where is the good user experience in this listing.


Okay maybe I have been picking terms that just contradict this intrusion of map results. Let’s see what other conference results bring. Let’s try Chicago and travel. What does Chicago travel conference bring? Local business results for travel conference near Chicago – top result 10 mapped hotels with no direct connect to a travel conference. I would be annoyed if I was trying to get my site seen in this space and the maps push me off the top area.


So let’s try one more – Philadelphia travel conference – not a town known for holding travel conferences, yet there they are again at the top – though this time it is only 3 results.


What is going on here Google? You expect us to follow standards you set out but seem to throw up results any which way you want. I may have to take this one up with Matt Cutts, it looks like there are Googlers spamming their own SERPs with irrelevant results.  When you start charging for the business listings that help generate the map results it may all become clearer, or are you just running behavioral tests on your users? If that is the case the government may soon have something to say about that.

Frank Watson
Frank works with sweetiQ developing local marketing tips and guides for location-based marketers
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Josh

    Maybe ‘travel’ and ‘chicago’ together trigger hotel leads because the keyphrase is classified as one likely used by a traveler, not a conference goer. The phrase ‘food conference chicago’ pulls up unrelated hotel results in maps, as well as caterers in Chicago. However, the phrase ‘”food conference” chicago’ triggers a full page of traditional, non-universal results with no map entries at all. Same with ‘food-conference chicago’. So I bet that the number of words about a likely topic within the key phrase are weighed by the algo, and google serves up the best results for it’s best guess at the searcher’s intent. Combining words in to terms with operators like ” or – eliminates these off-target results from the serps.

  • Yeah it definitely is something in the algo… and something that could be useful if there was a discernible method to the maddnes

  • I think this has been there for a while..They have implemented this in quite a few locations already.

  • I believe the algorithms are still evolving and it will take time while google understands how these products are used and adresses user redressal.

    Another thing worth noticing is a plain search on ‘trends’ or ‘analytics’ will throw up googles site as the first result. Is it so that there are most back links to these sites than others when you search the terms. At times, I doubt 🙂 !

  • Interesting post. You mentioned “When you start charging for the business listings”… Well since their seems to be an increase in Google Map Spam (ex… Locksmith NYC) one good way to combat this is by adding an AdWords Local Business Listing Ad to your ppc campaign which helps combat google map listing spam.

  • Using PPC to offset is sad and another way Google could be gaining monetarily from their actions