Is there a table, a shelf, a corner of your house that starts out bare and clean, but over time, you begin setting this and that on it without much thought? Some mail, old newspapers, a rain hat, a screwdriver, a bracelet, a dog toy...Suddenly you look at this area one day and say,"Hey, that's a whole lot of junk. That's a mess." When it was one little thing or two little things, it was no big deal, but when those little odds and ends start adding up, you wind up with a big, messy pile. That's the way things have been adding up with me and my frequent use of Google Maps. I've got a pile of irritations and it's time to sort and clean them into a cathartic list, for my own health. Here we go:
1. When I am logged into Google Maps, why do you sometimes show me my reviews in a box, set apart from the rest of the reviews, and why do you sometimes not?
2. Could you please develop a different error message for times when your system is malfunctioning. I really get tired of seeing the 'we do not support that location' error of a business when, yes, it is very much supported by you, listed, and often even owner-claimed. I feel like this error message is shown for a ton of different bugs that have nothing to do with you not having a business listed. I encounter it constantly.
3. Why, if I want to edit a review, can I not change the stars and the content of the review at the same time? Or, at least, sometimes I can't. Suppose I had a bad experience at restaurant, but then had a good one and wanted to update my review copy and the stars I'd initially given. It only makes sense to let me do this all at once, rather than making me change the text, see that my change of stars is not being reflected, and then have to go back to try to alter the stars a second time.
4. What about that 'was this review helpful' feature? What is this supposed to be for? Is it a pat on the back for me, the reviewer? I think the language of it is confusing. Does it mean, if I see 2 People Out Of 2 People Found This Review Helpful that only 2 people have ever read my review, that 2 people have checked the helpful box, that 2 people have checked the helpful box but 10 of them who have read my review found it unhelpful and chose that option? Do helpful review marks take away unhelpful votes? Do they counteract each other? Do you realize that I can mark my own reviews as helpful? If I do this enough times (theoretically speaking, of course) will you suspend my account? Is this metric supposed to help the reviewer or the person looking for reviews? Like several of the features in Maps, this one is vague.
5. Why do my Maps-based reviews sometimes disappear? They are just gone. Then they show up again.
6. Why do I sometimes encounter listings or Place Pages that won't let me leave a review for them or add to their content in any way? What causes this?
7. Call me funny, but sometimes I like to log into my profile and look back through the growing library of reviews I've left. Why do I sometimes encounter a bug that simply will not take me to my reviews when I click on the See All Reviews link?
8. I've saved my favorite for last, because it's something I've been asking Google for multiple years now. Why, why, why do you often not count Maps-based reviews in the review total number shown in the highest levels of Maps data? You include Dine.com, you include CitySearch, you include Yahoo. Why do you treat your own users, who are making a special effort to use Google's review app to leave their reviews, with the least respect in this matter? This will continue to be my top Google Maps pet peeve.
The overall question, which I haven't included in my list of 8 gripes, is why is Google Maps so bug ridden? We're just talking about little inconsistencies and annoyances with the review portion of Maps. I dare not include the list of bugs within Maps on the whole or this post would have to have been entitled '8 Billion Little Gripes With Google Maps'. Add to that 3,632 more gripes if all of the citizens of Rogers, MN. pipe up about the fact that their entire town has gone missing in Maps. No, there are just too many mistakes, errors and oddities for me to handle. What I want to know is - are there too many of them for Google to handle? Is the reason there are bugs and problems at every level of Maps that Google bit off way more than they could chew getting into this whole Local/Mapping thing? It feels like that to me, sometimes.
And, the strongest feeling I come away from Maps with is that it's neglected and erratic. Unsupported by customer service, remote and confusing, filled with poorly-understood features and riddled with inconsistent performance, the apps that are Maps just do not function professionally too much of the time. Perhaps you've noticed other review-oriented problems that have come to irritate you over time - please feel free to list them in the comments! Google should be seeking and listening to real user feedback. Dear Google, I only gripe because I care...I think Maps has, possibly, the highest potential to be a useful Internet resource of anything published on the web. But not without some more loving care from you. Come on, now. Doesn't Maps deserve this? I think so.----------
Flickr Photo Credit
April 5, 2010
Miriam Ellis is the co-owner of Solas Web Design and CopyLocal, providing SEO-based website design, Local SEO and professional copywriting for small-to-medium North American businesses. She is the Local SEO Associate in the Q&A Forum at SEOmoz, a moderator at Cre8asite Forums and an annual participant in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors report. When she and her husband are not working on the web, they're farming organically and working on increased sustainability or roaming about in nature having the time of their lives.
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