Google has launched a new feature for Google Maps in the US and Great Britain. The feature displays a few words or phrases that attempt to describe what a place is known for.
The phrases that appear are those most frequently used on the web in describing the place. Google does not say exactly where they come from, but that they come from sources all across the web, such as reviews, web pages, and other online references.
Google says the terms can "help people quickly identify the characteristics that make a particular place unique. It's like an opportunity to ask the business owner or its patrons 'What's good here?' or 'What do most people get here?'"
"For example, if I’m looking for a place to relax and enjoy a great cup of coffee this weekend, I can see at a quick glance that Cafe Grumpy could be the perfect spot," explains Google software engineer Manjunath Srinivasaiah. "Besides being known for their 'latte' and 'great coffee,' they have a 'no laptop' policy — exactly what I was hoping for since I’d like to unplug and take a break from work this weekend."
"Or if I’m planning to visit friends on the west coast and need to organize a night out, Rose & Crown could be an excellent choice given their 'great beer selection' and 'trivia night' games on site!" adds Srinivasaiah.
The feature could be useful, but Google doesn't say whether this also picks up negative terms or has a mechanism to keep information current. What if a lot of people use "lousy beer selection," to describe a place, for example? Will this show up? If so, it could be damaging for the place's reputation. In terms of staying current, what if that same place upgraded their beer selection?
We've reached out to Google for additional information on this, and will update accordingly.
Google says the feature will be available in Place search on Google.com and Google Maps for mobile soon.
Update: A Google spokesperson tells WebProNews:
The terms selected by our automated system are intended to help users quickly identify unique characteristics about a place for which a business is commonly known. They are phrases commonly associated with the business from various sources across the web, and since we aim to avoid an editorial bias on this summary of terms, we’re more likely to leave the phrase up rather than remove it.
If a user wishes to flag a term for removal on legal grounds, however, our Help Center will guide the user through the process. We’ll review those complaints and take appropriate action when necessary.
Regarding freshness, the terms will be algorithmically updated on a regular basis, but we aren’t able to share additional details. We encourage you and other users to write rich and descriptive reviews about the places you visit, and we’ll continue working to refine our system to surface the most useful terms.