After thinking more about the enhancements to Google's Local Business Center, I realized a benefit that was overlooked in one of the less glamorous feature developments amongst the set.
As reported in a post earlier this week, one of the developments to Local Business Center is the ability for businesses to change or edit their location on a Google map if it is incorrect or outdated.
At first I thought this will find a marginal amount of utility for businesses and Google alike. Then I remembered something about local online mapping; the last block problem. This occurs when a mapping engine places a business or residence on a map based on its address; but the best it can do with that address is extrapolate its position within a given block.
For example, if your address is 1550 Lombard Street in San Francisco, an online map will put you right in the middle of the 1500 block, on the north side of the street. This is probably where you live, but in some cases this can be off the mark, and can have varying degrees of error depending on the length or density of your block (think rural areas). So this new feature for the first time lets businesses literally move their address marker to the right spot.
This falls in line with one of the reasons for the rest of the enhancements to Local Business Center; to improve the quality of Google's data. Google currently gets its data from a number of sources including commercial database vendors. The additional info from businesses themselves is hoped to sharpen this data with defined categories, custom attributes, etc.
The location feature in particular, interestingly works on a problem that has gotten very little attention. It's not a huge problem and this isn't a groundbreaking solution, but it's a step in the right direction to improve data quality. It's also in line with many of the user generated content initiatives (business generated content in this case) that are springing up all over the local search space in order to deepen content and improve SEO.
We'll have more analysis of Google's Local Business Center and the strategies behind it in a SearchDay article next week.