Google Autofills Photos & Videos in Local Business Profiles

Filed in Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on April 19, 2009 11 Comments

While putting together my local search presentation for ad:tech next week, I came across something I’d not seen before: Google is auto-filling local business profiles with photos and videos pulled in from other web sites. Have a look at this example:

screenshot

On some profiles, I also saw YouTube videos being pulled into a local business profile. David Mihm says he thinks he saw this for the first time about a month ago. I only saw it on restaurant profiles, but I wasn’t looking at other types while working on my presentation.

What’s interesting about this is that some of those images in the example above look like stock photography — the Cityvoter.com images, in particular. I don’t think they are stock photos, but they have that look to them. It seems possible that Google may pull in some incorrect or inappropriate images. Ergo, there’s a link to report inappropriate photos right on the business profile.

Aside from inappropriate photos, another possible problem is this:

screenshot two

Google is creating its own duplicate content problem. :-) I suspect this might be somewhat common with images getting re-used across so many web sites.

Anyway, the message for local businesses is pretty clear, isn’t it? If you don’t optimize your profiles, Google’s gonna do it for you.

Comments (11)

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  1. Hans says:

    It is a bit strange that Google autofills profiles. It can happen that competitors will be shown in your profile.

  2. Have to say that since I am investigating local search I have seen Google adding images from trusted sources.

  3. Morgan says:

    Google Maps will pull geotargeted videos from YouTube as well. TurnHere (the company I work for) geocodes its client videos and they appear automatically in the Maps search results. Google wrote about his cool feature here:

    http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/04/youtube-videos-in-google-maps.html

    Personally, I think Google needs to continue to refine its interface to help surface more of this content for small business listings. The tabbed format and small window makes accessing it difficult and limits the effectiveness of the information presented.

  4. Matt McGee says:

    I saw some YouTube videos in my samples, too, Morgan. Thx – and I agree with you about the interface. Not the ideal UI at the moment.

  5. F. says:

    I think the autofill doesn’t have any filter on it .. it makes a lot of competitors shown up together..

  6. Paul Smith says:

    Ya know, when this feature first originated I loved it! Seemed to make sense. Google piecing all the missing pieces together for us small business owners. Not anymore. It’s getting tougher and tougher for me to continue weeding out the wrong information that they pull for our business. Hopefully one day they will perfect their algorithm so this doesn’t happen.

  7. paul says:

    despite all the work google has done the past year, there are still problems to be fixed. just last week, we had our listing deleted, labeled “permanently closed”. we dont know how this happened but i have learned that it can still be done by unethical competitors. and some listings are still merging with other incorrect listing or are being hijacked as well. but i am happy to report that it looks like Google has stepped up its efforts to fix map problems. after going in and sending google a comment stating that we were NOT CLOSED, we received a telephone call from them verifying it. then, within hours, our listing was back up. please make sure that you check your business listings often.

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