If you have a business where you want customers to visit in person, and you haven’t added and/or verified that business in Google Maps, you may want to consider doing so. You can do this regardless of whether you have a web site or not.
The Google Navigator system that Google has developed for mobile phones allows people to navigate to destinations in their cars, and even search for types of nearby businesses rather than specific businesses at specific addresses. So, if you want to find a nearby Thai restaurant, you can type in “Thai restaurant” and Google will either show you the nearest one it knows about, or provide a list of restaurants that you can choose from.
A new patent application from Google hints at even more features from such a navigation system that can associate information from your personal information management software into the Google navigation system, from programs such as contact lists, calendars, and task lists.
For instance, you set up a task list on your smartphone to visit a new client, and then pick up stamps and mail out letters, drop off dry cleaning, and go grocery shopping. You’ve also added the new client’s address to your personal information system contact list and calendar.
You have your phone set up to use Google Navigator as a GPS for your car. The navigation system shows you where your client’s office is located on the map you’re following, and also shows you icons for nearby post offices, dry cleaning shops, and shopping centers.
While Google Navigator doesn’t presently display nearby places that might be of interest based upon things like your task list, it seems like something that might be a reasonable addition sometime in the future. Even if they don’t add these features, the ability for people to search for nearby businesses by type or category presents a compelling reason to make sure that your business listing is included and correct in Google Maps.
The patent filing is:
Geocoding Personal Information
Invented by Adam Bliss and David P. Conway
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20100106801
Published April 29, 2010
Filed: October 22, 2008
A computer-implemented method for generating geocoded user information is disclosed. The method comprises searching user data across multiple different data corpora for entries having location-related information and determining locations for the location-related information. The method further comprises generating a map showing a current location of a mobile device along with representations of the entries having location-related information, at the determined locations, for entries from the multiple different data corpora.
This system could work with a PDA, Laptop, and handheld phone as well as an in-vehicle navigation system.
The personal information management data integrated with this system could be contained in:
a) Web applications such as Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Docs
b) programs located on a PDA, PC, Laptop, Mobile Phone, etc.
When terms are used in a task list such as “grocery,” “mail,” and “dry clean,” the system looking for locations that match those terms may perform searches for those specific terms as well as for synonyms such as “supermarket,” “post office,” and “laundry,” and may limit the results to a certain predefined radius from the user’s current location.
The patent filing tells us that contact information may be filtered to only show contacts of a certain type, such as close friends or family members, or that it might be expanded to include a larger number of contacts and possibly even extract contact information from a social networking application.
One possible alternative that could be included within a system like this would be to pair it with a recommendation system. For example, someone subscribes to a movie rental system that provides recommendations for movies similar to the ones rented or rated (or both) recently. If that person subscribes to receiving recommendations from that service, the system could geocode those recommendations to show movie rental stores or movie theatres where those recommended movies are available or are showing. Other recommendation services featuring other kinds of products or services could also be included.
The patent application provides a fair amount of detail about how such a system would work, and it does seem to provide a compelling reason for more businesses with physical locations that people can visit to make sure that they are in Google Maps.
Imagine if you love visiting museums, shopping at antique stores, and enjoy eating Ethiopian food. Add “Visit Museum,” “Buy antiques,” and “Find Ethiopian Restaurant” to a task list on your mobile phone, and under the system described in this patent filing, your navigation system should tell you when you’re driving near or past one or the other, and give you the chance to visit (and directions as well).
That is, as long as those places are listed in Google Maps.