Google Maps, formerly Google Local, preparing for Italian Launch?


It appears that Google will be rolling out Google Maps coverage for major European countries, including Italy, shortly. A preview with Italian is available by using the Google Maps UK i.e. http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=it.

Google Maps is three applications in one:

  • Local business search (primarily yellow pages based data) integrated with a display map
  • Navigation directions (From – To)
  • Other location specific search data (white pages, web) displayed on a map

Companies listed in the Italian Yellow pages PagineGialle.it will probably appear in the first Italian release of Google Maps. Where Google Maps has been released, Google provides a Local Business Center interface to add, modify or delete a listing. Companies with more than 10 locations can upload a file through Google Base. These options are not yet available for Italy.

Implications for Italy’s SME

Local search has the potential to profoundly impact Italy’s SMEs, the foundation of Italian commerce, as Google will probably integrate Google Maps data in the standard Google search interface. An example can be seen searching Google.com for Pizza in New York. Interestingly, Google Maps UK has not yet been integrated into google.co.uk searches.

Update Web Analytics Configuration

Companies may wish to insure they are tracking Google Maps / traffic separate from standard Google web searches. This can be done by tracking the maps.google.* and local.google.* element of the referring URL separately from www.google.*.

Local Search / Map Search at , , MSN and

While Google is by far the most important search engine in Italy, other significant players are not standing still.

Virgilio

The longtime favorite, Virgilio / Alice, has long integrated Maps with listings from Seat’s Pagine Gialle. In the short term, Virgilio users probably won’t gain much by switching to Google. Google will pull ahead if it displays local listings in its standard search results.

Yahoo!

Yahoo! Italia does provide Yellow Page listings to find a business in Italy, and a separate map service but Yahoo! has not yet integrated business listings with Maps as it has done with Yahoo! Local Map search in the US.

Yahoo! Local Search International Sites

MSN

MSN’s beta local search, relies on data from PagineGialle.it. Unfortunately, there is not yet an independent mechanism to insert, modify or delete a listing; companies must pay Pagine Gialle for a listing.

Ask

Ask provides a yellow pages type business search in the US, integrated with a small map, as well as a separate map service. Neither has been released by Ask for the Italian market.

Google Maps URL Options Demystified

Many Google Maps options can be invoked by simply modifying the Google Maps URL in the browser address bar.

OptionDescription

f=l

f=q

f=d

Search the map (2 box)

Find businesses (1 box)

Get Directions (From – To)

hl=itInterface Language, one of the major ISO Language codes (i.e. en, de, es, fr, it).
q=What to search for, i.e. pizza
near=Where to search, i.e. 20100 Milano
om=Not clear…
saddr=From (when f=d)
daddr=To (when f=d)

The Find business search can be specified in the default single box using the syntax <what> loc: <where>, i.e. pizza loc: 20159 milano

NoteIt is worth playing around with the search a bit. The same search, pizza 20159 milano entered as Search the map currently produces reviews in addition to listings.

Other Google Maps options include the possibility to print, e-mail or generate a permanent link for a results page.

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About Sean Carlos

Sean Carlos is a digital marketing consultant & teacher, assisting companies with their Search (SEO + SEA = SEM), Social Media & Digital Media Analytics strategies. Sean first worked with text indexing in 1990 in a project for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since then he worked for Hewlett-Packard Consulting and later as IT Manager of a real estate website before founding Antezeta in 2006. Sean is an official instructor of the Digital Analytics Association and collaborates with the Bocconi University. He is Chairman of the SMX Search and Social Media Conference, 12 & 13 November in Milan. He is also a co-author of the Treccani encyclopedic dictionary of computer science, ICT & digital media. Born in Providence, RI, USA, Sean received Honors in Physics from Bates College, Maine. He speaks English, Italian and German.

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