It is unarguable that Google Maps is an invaluable tool and with the move to hand held devices the search marketing need to show in its listings is even more pressing.  Using the android app to view London for example, you can see the map is littered with business names in grey. Receiving such a listing would be a boon to any retail business’ search marketing strategy.  However, receiving these listing is a random occurrence rather than a specific campaign tool.  The first step is to ensure that you have an up to date entry into Google Places, this function allows you to create a free online business advert complete with pictures. Type “limegreentangerine” into Google and you will see a Google place listing below, complete with a series of images.

There are a number of theories emanating from the SEO forums about why some business can attain the grey labels on the maps. One key theory is that these labels are dependent on the business being listed in certain aggregating directories such as and Thomson Local. This theory may hold some water, as many modern businesses choose not to be featured in the traditional directories as the return on investment is questionable. However, if you are looking to place your site in the map listings as part of a structured search marketing campaign there are a number of local directories that act as aggregators. As these directories are local and are generally not designed for public consumption, they are generally cheaper than the large brand name directories.

Certain sectors receive these listings a lot more readily than others, for example there are dozens of restaurants and pubs on the map of Ulverston, yet there is only a few nonretail based service industries represented. Another feature of the service related industries is that the listed businesses tend to have social recommendations on sites such as qype.

A source from within google stated “…it’s not our intention to support or promote unfair competition among businesses. We want to highlight places on the map that may be interesting or might help a user navigate the map. We use a proprietary algorithm to determine which businesses are shown, and the set of businesses shown can be expected to change from time-to-time”. This is of little comfort to a small business trying to develop an online presence.

The source then continue to state that keeping your online details up to date is a key feature of the algorithm. He pointed out that the grey labels are in effect recommendations and if Google has no information about your business is won’t recommend you.

Here at the Digital State Marketing we are watching the development of Google maps with interest. This is already a vital tool for millions of people and fully utilising it for SEO purposes is a key goal for all campaigns.