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Mapping Data and Local SEO

Maps direct people to your business. Take control of mapping data to apply local SEO and direct them to your site and not the competition.

Online Maps

There are many online mapping services out there. If you have been around for a long time they may already have your business listed in them. If you claim your listings on these services you can add information that they would not have otherwise. Most of these services let you add things such as:

  • Link to your website.
  • Email address.
  • Hours of operation.
  • Parking information.
  • Payment types accepted.
  • Company description.
  • Company tagline.
  • Year established.
  • Fax numbers.
  • Products carried.
  • Photos and videos.
  • Links to social media accounts.

Google Maps is obviously important because it’s connected with Google, but you should take control of your listings on more services because third-party services pull data from other data providers. For example, Siri pulls information from Yelp. We recommend that you start by using GetListed.org to check your business on popular local mapping services. They also direct you to claim or correct your listing if this information is incorrect. They also have recommendations on more sites to increase traffic to your website via local search.

All of these mapping services will need you to verify your listing. Most of them offer verification through phone for faster access. All of them will allow you to verify via mail. When creating your accounts on these services be sure to fill out the profiles with as much data as you can.

Side note: Bing’s Business Portal tool is nice, but clunky. I recently noticed that we had not updated our address listing from our change of address last year. I tried and failed to log in and update the listing. Bing deactivated the account because we had not logged in to the account for that service within 75 days. The software itself was clunky in Chrome. It felt like things were failing to auto-complete. Don’t even bother trying to move the pin around if it is not in the right spot. They know it has problems and are working to fix that.

To resolve the verification process I had to contact support. It took me a bit to find, but in the bottom right corner is a link for support. Once I clicked on it a webchat started and a person helped me through the process. We ended up deleting the old data and creating a new listing which she verified right away. It was the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had via a webchat for support.

The BrandBuilder Company's KML mapping listing in Google Earth.KML

KML is an XML file used by Google to supply mapping data to Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. It allows you to control the mapping data displayed inside an Earth browser by passing them a URL. This is not a replacement for creating a location in Google+ Local/Google Places.

A KML file can contain multiple locations for your business. The only information you need for those locations would be:

  • Location name.
  • Human readable address.
  • A description (encoded HTML allowed).
  • Longitude, Latitude.

I want to draw special attention to that last point. The format is the longitude, a comma, and then latitude. The typical format for GPS information is latitude, comma, longitude. I don’t know why they revered this. Nor do I know why they don’t use two different fields to remove the ambiguity. When I first tested this out I ended up seeing our business in the Antarctica!

KML Mapping data for The BrandBuilder Company in Google Maps for Android.A great tool for generating KML files for you would be the Geo sitemap generator. This service is slightly outdated. Geo sitemaps were sitemaps of KML files and were only supported by Google. Google no longer supports Geo sitemaps. The KML files it generates are still useful.

If you are a SiteBrandBuilder client we have our own tool for adding geographical locations to your site from the Account Settings page in the Control Panel. It will encode the HTML for your description. Once your geographical information will be available at [domain]/locations.kml. For example, our information would be:

http://www.brandbuilderwebsites.com/locations.kml

Once created this information will be automatically added to your XML Sitemap (at [domain]/sitemap.xml). Search engines will crawl this file should you submit them to search engines or add them to your robots.txt file.

You can test this information in one of two ways. The first is the recommend method:

  1. Visit the URL and download the file. Then load the file from your computer in Google Earth. If things do not look correct just deleted the listing, fix it in the control panel, and try again.
  2. Paste the URL into the search box on Google Maps. This is not recommended because Google will cache the KML file for an undisclosed time. It will eventually work its way out of the Google cache, but that takes time. To see your changes as you test you must apply a ‘?’ and then randomly add characters to the URL just to see the new data. Google will still have the incorrect data for the main URL until it clears its cache, but that is not ideal.

Have you already taken control of your mapping data by creating accounts on local search sites? Have you ever used KML files before to control mapping data? Please let us know what you think.

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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.

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