This week and next week I’m in Eastern Europe along the Adriatic coast. From my ventures through Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia so far, I have noticed some issues with Google maps. It seemed only fitting that Google came out and discontinued access to Google Mapmaker on the same week, sort of giving the week a Google maps theme.
Mapmaker was used by some SEO’s to directly edit Google maps and make corrections and updates to improve the quality of the Google Maps environment. Because only the more advanced users knew about its access capabilities and how to use it, it was a nice tool to get errors fixed. However, as more people learned about it, as always, we saw people start to abuse the tool. In recent years, more and more fraudulent edits were found, causing some embarrassment to Google, so they have now shut it down. You can read more about it in the linked article above, but it will just add another layer of bureaucracy to the process of getting issues resolved.
From my perspective overseas, I have seen more inaccuracies than I would regularly come across in the US. I realize systems are not perfect, but we ran in to several miscues on the Adriatic, so I guess the major warning is when going abroad, don’t rely heavily on Google Maps yet. Especially in the Adriatic area I was recently in.
We spent quite some time searching for a specific restaurant for dinner in Tirana, Albania that we never found, despite going up and down the stated street several times and the image of the restaurant showing a big sign that one could not miss. We had initially figured that was just a chance thing but we had repeated issues like this.
In one case, in the old town area of Budva, in Montenegro, Google had place a restaurant about a mile down the beach and out of the old town, that was actually located directly inside the city walls of the fairly small old town of Budva. The pin on the map had it in a spot (we learned the hard way by walking there) that didn’t have anything remotely close to the restaurant.
Lesson learned. I’m sure most SEO’s know the limitations of Google maps, and especially those doing a lot of international work, but with stories of people driving in to rivers, etc. by blindly following GPS, please be careful out there and if you are outside the US, maybe double verify that the restaurant/bar/place you are going when traveling, is actually where Google says it is.