One of the most unique and impressive features of Google’s search engine package is Google Maps. All users have to do is type a location into a search bar, and they can find what they’re looking for on a helpful, easy-to-navigate map. Viewers can also use the tool to get directions from one location to another and to search for amenities (ranging from public transport stops to restaurants and hotels) that are near to a given point on the map. Users can even edit Google Maps in order to add in extra information and make corrections for the benefit of other users. However, this latter piece of functionality has caused them a degree of embarrassment recently.
An anonymous online graffiti artist altered Google Maps to display a picture of the Android robot (the mascot for Google’s mobile OS, Android) urinating on the Apple logo. To be exact, the offending image appears near the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan. Google have promised they will shortly remove the piddling automaton. The incident is certainly a cause for embarrassment for Google, but do online marketers have to worry? Will this episode cause users to desert Google in favour of a more reliable, less accident-prone search engine, thus forcing marketers to rethink their SEO strategies? Probably not.
The incident is mildly humiliating because it exposes a weakness in Google’s vetting procedure for user-made Google Maps changes. However, it is also minor and is unlikely to cause even minimal fluctuations in Google’s market share. That being said, the incident may hold a different significance for companies with a stake in online marketing.
Because the ‘urinating android’ story is amusing, it’s likely to make web-users more aware of Google’s Google Maps feature, thus attracting more people to it. As such, now would be a great time for businesses to ensure that they appear on Google’s maps. Google Maps displays the names and locations of companies that it believes are relevant when a user searches for companies of a given type in a given area. This can generate a lot of publicity for certain companies and even channel users to their websites. However, not every company is on Google Maps. With the feature at the heart of a current and entertaining news story, there’s never been a better time to make sure your business is one of the ones that’s included in Google Maps. It might prove to be a more powerful promotional tool than you think. Provided nobody draws a peeing robot over your map position, that is.