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Thread: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

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    timcapper's Avatar
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    When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Adding Geo Coordinates into your structured data is supposed to help search engines understand exactly where your business is located, even if they don't fully understand the address.

    You can further reinforce your exact location by adding hasMap within your markup that references your business on Google maps.

    By adding these to your structured data markup you should in theory be providing perfect location signals to search engines, but are you ?

    When Geo Coordinates go Rogue

    Now in theory search engines have all the data they need to understand who you are and where you are located.

    When Google added Geo Coordinates and hasMap to their recognised structured data, we dutifully rolled this out across all clients hotel properties.


    When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data-hotel-stuctured-data-geo-coordinates.png



    Everything seemed well in the world until the second month after adding Geo and hasMap to the structured data. We started seeing different properties across Asia, Malta and UAE experience local pack positions dropping.

    I could not figure out what was going on. It was not an algo because properties located a few miles down the coast were not affected, so we started checking to see if any NAP's had changed.

    (In the hotel market, maintaining NAP consistency can change at the drop of a hat if a large OTA gets their data incorrect.)

    This did not seem to be the case, so we started checking for duplicates. BINGO

    Next we started cross checking all Geo Coordinates listed in structured data, again another BINGO moment.

    Users had moved the PIN marker and created duplicated versions of the affected properties, in different languages.

    When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data-hotel-local-position-tracking.jpg


    We reported all the duplicates and corrected PIN marker back to exact Geo Coordinates and local pack positions returned.

    But then it started happening across new properties, after this second dip, we took the decision to remove all Geo Coordinates and hasMap from Asian and UAE properties.

    Again local pack positions returned.

    Things To Note

    We constantly deal with duplicates created in maps. In any given month we report an average of 22 duplicates.

    We never really paid attention to the PIN marker being slightly moved within the properties boundary.

    Before adding Geo and hasMap, duplicates and movement of PIN had not caused such dramatic drops before, after removing all local positions returned.

    We still deal with tons of duplicates monthly, but we don't have catastrophic drops.


    Why Move the PIN slightly?

    We reached out to a users and questioned why they had moved the PIN marker in maps?

    "So we could show our family the Villa / Suite we had our holiday in" well bugger me, that was a new one.

    This Seems to be Cultural

    Our Asian properties has seen a significant rise in local tourism, Chinese and Russian visitors, who perhaps don't quite understand the geography and when they can't find the property where they think they had their holiday, they add a new one to Maps.

    The whole moving PIN marker to show their family the exact room / villa / suite they stayed in, well that's still mind blown.

    European Properties

    It was several months before our first European property took a hit from a moved PIN marker.

    We have now removed all Geo Coordinates and hasMap from all clients hotels structured data.

    We still deal with an extraordinary amount of duplicates and PIN marker moves, but we do not experience the drops in local pack.

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    CodyBaird (04-27-2016),Erik (07-20-2016),heckler (04-27-2016),Jo Shaer (04-27-2016),Joe Mink (04-27-2016),JoshuaMackens (04-28-2016),Linda Buquet (04-27-2016),Rich Owings (04-28-2016)

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Whoa, interesting on a couple fronts. Thanks for another great eye opener Tim!

    So it seems like if the GEO in your structured data says one thing and the map marker gets moved, it causes a break in data integrity, almost like bad citations do?

    The other thing I found interesting in your post is "hasMap". Granted I have not been keeping up with Schema, BUT I read everything and have not heard of this before. I bet some others don't know about it either. Sounds like it would be a smart move to add, but you def pointed out the other side of the equation!

    If you've experienced a recent drop it would be worth checking your lat/long at the actual pin against the lat/long in your schema, to be sure they still match up.

    Remember recently there was a bug and the advice was to move your marker a little?
    Double ck those listings.

    What about you guys?

    Ever had this happen?

    Did you know about hasMap markup? Do you use it?
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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Wow, that's crazy! I never would have thought that feeding such great data to Google could cause such a calamity. But I like the way Linda describes it - "a break in data integrity" that's caused by input that we can't fully control.

    Thanks for the share! I'm sure it will help a lot of us avoid that pitfall.

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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Hi Linda, Dillon

    It certainly created a break.

    I must stress that this has only happened with my hotel properties, I am assuming because there are so many different people arriving and leaving at any given time from different countries.


    The other thing is that by adding Geo Coordinates and hasMap, it seemed to create a larger more intensive drop then if there were none added to the structured data.
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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Very interesting, I hadn't seen a negative to schema like this before, definitely one to make note of. Thanks for sharing Tim!
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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Hi James

    And neither did we, hence it was the last place we looked. When it happened again we removed the Geo out of the structured data and all was well in the world again

    My guess is that by adding the Geo into the structured data, it tied the property to that location so specifically, that Google could not adjust with a moved PIN marker or duplicates appearing.

    By removing this tie, it allowed more flexibility OR a longer period of adjustment.

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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Fascinating, Tim!
    This is similar to an issue that I've been having with a multi-location business that I manage. I know that GMB Locations now allows you to upload latitude and longitude coordinates for NEW locations that are being uploaded via a bulk upload spreadsheet. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that you can set locations in this manner for existing GMB locations. I was hoping to be able to do this in order to "lock down" the Pin Marker in hopes that no one could move it.

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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Very interesting

    I've heard of similar issues with hours changing on the GMB because the website showed hours of operation different from GMB hours.

    Shows how much weight google is starting to place on website data that has been marked up

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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Fascinating.

    I've been adding schema markup via JSON-LD to all client sites, but I'm wondering if I should just leave off the geo-coordinates and hasMap.
    Rich Owings
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    Re: When Geo Coordinates go Rogue in Structured Data

    Hi Rich

    Depends on the type of business, the above only happened ( repeatedly ) with hotels across Asia and the UAE. Also once on a UK hotel and once on a European hotel.

    After that we removed it all.

    It has never happened on any other local business we have implemented on. I'm guessing, as i said in my post, with so many different cultures arriving and departing in any given week they feel the need to mess with maps.

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