Local search is more or less similar to web search. Google’s Street View cars follow somewhat similar technology that is followed by web crawler Googlebot. Google Maps collect addresses for associating destinations with government offices, parks, landmark buildings and businesses.
Google has disclosed that it uses three types of signals for local search rankings. These are relevance, prominence and distance. Relevance refers to the keyword matching of a business with the query of a user. Prominence is composed of signals that Google uses to evaluate overall popularity of your company in comparison to similar businesses. Distance is one of the prime local ranking signals for Google Maps. Businesses that are located close to city centers have major advantage over the businesses located further from city.
There are several areas where Google Maps are prohibited from mapping. These areas include private roads, military areas and sensitive areas. There are countries like China that prohibits use of longitude and latitude coordinates within their country for mapping. Driving directions from local search of Street view may begin with instruction like “go east”. Most of us, who are unlikely to carry a compass while driving in a city, may feel confused with such instruction. If you need to rely heavily on Google Maps while driving then you need to consider these factors.
Updating or correcting Google maps is crucial. There are some businesses that are closed or have shifted locations since last update. If these locations feature in the maps while driving then they are likely to misguide the users. Any user facing such problems wasn’t sure how to report it to concerned authority.
Google came up with a solution for reporting incorrect addresses that uses Social Networking and GPS. Sending observers for updating locations and places is a clumsy and time consuming process. However, this has been simplified with portable navigation system and online mapping services. Many online mapping services provide options for individual users to make suggestions for corrections of maps. These submissions are reviewed and approved by an expert before getting incorporated. Submissions of users who have a history of correct reporting and gained substantial credibility with the mapping service may be approved without review.
In rhythm with such developments there is a growing possibility for including requests of driving directions as ranking signal for some businesses. This is proposed to be done with the help of a framework that takes into account location of a user along with collection of nearby places as arguments for producing ranking of desired places. The framework generates a range of direction queries that are exploited for ranking. This is followed by an algorithm and accompanying data structures that are able to rank places in response to hyper-local web queries. An empirical study is done with very large directions query logs after this. This gives an insight into the potential of direction queries for ranking of places and proposes the algorithm suitable for real web search engines.
Position of a business plays a crucial role in local search ranking. Google Maps have several challenges regarding updating. Social networking and GPS is playing important roles in updating locations. There has been a growing possibility for considering requests of driving directions as one of the ranking signal.
To be honest I am not 100% sure, but I would say that smartphone GPS would contribute to this. I can understand your concern as GPS in smartphones can get kind of scary and obtrusive at times.
Just asking, but does using one’s smartphone impact this at all? I’ve been somewhat hesitant to be tracked so I turned off all the GPS stuff on the phone and, to date, haven’t missed it, but at the same time I have wondered if I might miss something in the future.