Thursday 15 March 2012

New ways to present information on the internet

We need to look for new ways to present information on the internet. We needn't be stuck in the rut of simply writing about it. I am referring to mapping on this occasion. Google Maps have advanced quite dramatically, recently. We (independent website builders) owe it to ourselves to use Google's free software to our advantage as we are so painfully dependent on this internet giant that dominates us. And it might not be free indefinitely.

Almost any information can be presented on a map because almost all information can be referenced to a place. Take cats, my pet subject! I have mapped USA animal rescue, UK animal rescue sanctuaries, tiger reserves and more. A lot of information can be presented more effectively on a map and there are hidden SEO benefits as well, which I touch on below.

The map below shows animal rescue sanctuaries in the UK:

There are a lot of directory websites that list businesses and other organisations. Some of them provide directions to the listed business. And some provide a map below the address. The mapping and directions are secondary to the written information - the address etc. We can turn that upside down and make the location the primary information and the other details secondary. Where the location of a business is of primary importance this is a better way of presenting the information. Google maps allows us to do that.

An example, in the world of cats, is boarding catteries (cat hotels). The location of the cattery is very important. You need to minimise travel time to the place (to reduce stress for you and your cat) and you need to see the place beforehand. Information about boarding catteries is best presented on a map. This principle applies to many different sorts of information. You can use your own imagination.


There is an unexpected SEO benefit from web pages that contain an embedded Google map. Visitors will stay on the site longer as they explore the map, zooming in and out and clicking on the place markers to see the information contained inside the markers. The Alexa website ranking is based on a number of criteria one of which is the amount of time spent on the site. You will probably find that your Alexa ranking will improve if you have some prominent and well produced maps on your site.

Mapping as a way of presenting information is an emerging trend and I recommend that you join the trend now to get ahead.

Google Maps - ways to map

There are essentially two ways to use Google maps that I know of:
  1. Manual input. You find the location using Google maps or by yourself and then you place the marker at that location and add the details.
  2. Automatic input using Google fusion tables. This is a beta program in development. You create a spreadsheet containing information in columns. One column contains information that allows Google to map the organisation that you have listed. A good address can suffice. Google allows other source information to be used. Using fusion tables you have to trust Google to map accurately so it is important to provide good information so as to not mislead or confuse Google maps. Fusion tables is the only way to map large amounts of information as  manual mapping of say 4,000 businesses would take about 6 months full-time!

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