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Google Maps should have a way to block businesses
I use Google Maps nearly every day. I use it for directions, obviously, but I also use it the way most people use Yelp — for restaurant suggestions. I’ll also fire up the Maps app if I need train schedules, to find the nearest restroom at an airport, or to discover what an area’s places of interest might be. It is, without a doubt, one of my most-used apps.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. In fact, there’s a huge problem with the app that drives me insane: the lack of an ability to block businesses from search results. This would seem like a fundamental feature, but Google just won’t deliver it.
Before I get into my complaint, let me show you what I’m talking about.
Google Maps search results: Not what I want
Let’s say I’ve traveled to a spot I’ve never been to before. Suddenly, I get the craving for some tea (a common occurrence for me). I can ask Maps to pull up a list of tea spots nearby, as seen in the screenshots below.
This is a great feature I use all the time. However, note the third screenshot. See how it has recommended Dunkin’ as a possible tea spot? I don’t want to go to Dunkin’. I never, ever want to go there. Dunkin’ has terrible tea and, most of the time, has little to no seating. Plus, it’s a huge chain — I’d much rather go to a small business and support the locals.
I've repeatedly told Google Maps I'm not interested in Dunkin' but it still suggests it to me.
Now, I’ve told Google Maps that I’m not interested in Dunkin’ (see fourth and fifth screenshots). You can do this by opening Maps, tapping your profile image, and then going to Settings > Manage your preferences. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change much for your search results. You’ll still see ads for Dunkin’ and you’ll still see Dunkin’ locations suggested to you. The only thing that changes is you’ll see a lower match percentage next to the business — in the case of Dunkin’ it is a 5% match for me.
I want this to be a 0% match and I don’t want to see it in my results anymore. Why can’t I do this, Google?
I can block Google News results, why can’t I block businesses?
In the Google News app, you can block entire sources. Let’s say I don’t want to see any stories from a site called “The Best Dunkin’ Blog.” I can find a story from that source in the News app, click the overflow icon, and tap “Hide all stories.” Boom: I’ll never see an article from “The Best Dunkin’ Blog” again.
This feature is there because Google understands that you might not trust some news sources — or just don’t like them. Why can’t it understand that we don’t trust/like some businesses, either?
The inability to block businesses in Maps makes it a less useful app.
Obviously, I know the answer to this question: money. Google doesn’t make direct ad revenue from news sites, so there would never be a time that it would need to push you an ad for a news page. Google Maps — and Google’s main source of revenue, Search — rely on ads for profit. If I block Dunkin’ from my Maps search results, Google would then need to also block Dunkin’ ads, which would cut into its bottom line. This is also why there is no official way to block sites from your searches within Google Search (although there are workarounds).
How do you feel about unwanted suggestions in Google Maps?
Although I understand the reasoning, this whole situation makes Maps less useful to me. I don’t want Dunkin’ in my search results, and I don’t want Chick-fil-A there, either. I’m never going to a Home Depot ever again, and I’d love to never hear about Hobby Lobby as long as I live. Maps would be a better product if I could tell it to stop suggesting that I should visit these businesses.
Google’s whole ethos is built on delivering me the information I want as fast and efficiently as possible. I wish it would live up to that ethos in Google Maps.