Greg Linden uncovers a potential new Google Maps ranking signal: direction requests:

…certain very large search engines have massive logs of people asking for directions from A to B, hundreds of millions of people and billions of A to B queries. And, it appears this data may be as or more useful than user reviews of businesses and maybe GPS trails for local search ranking, recommending nearby places, and perhaps local and personalized deals and advertising.

Geeky paper on the subject here.

According to Greg this signal is not part of the algo at the moment.  Not sure how valuable this signal would be in cities like New York where you don’t have to drive.  And it would only apply to categories that have locations that are destinations like museums, restaurants and brothels – sorry locksmiths.

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9 Response Comments

  • Peter Herz  May 12, 2011 at 8:56 am

    This idea is very reminiscent of a wireless startup called Go2 I helped boot in the 90s. Working with a PhD cartographer from UCSB and a military software developer, and us a couple of kids, we hammered out demos that projected this type of SRP intelligence. They knew all this like in the late 90s but the consumer technology wasn’t up to par yet. Over a decade later its finally prime.

  • Matt  May 12, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Interesting – it certainly would make sense as one of many signals indicating relevance.

    (PS I thought your post’s title was a Star Wars reference. But a reference to Yoda your post is not.)

  • Andrew Shotland  May 12, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Yoda may know a lot but even he can’t guarantee a #1 ranking.

  • Peter Herz  May 12, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Google has way too many neurons

  • Matt McGee  May 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Totally irrelevant for large classes of SMBs, but it makes a bit of sense for Google to at least look at the data and see if it corroborates other ranking signals.

  • Andrew Shotland  May 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Agreed. Golf courses seems like the right category for this one.

  • Baran Hill  May 16, 2011 at 6:50 am

    So this is hypothetical at the moment and something we should start gearing up for?
    How does Greg determine its part of the algorithm? Google magic wand? 🙂

  • Yam Regev  May 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

    For the locksmiths it’s a great advantage as they are located…. everywhere… 😉