Burton Hohman / Digital Marketing / February 21st, 2014

Going for Gold with Google Fusion Tables

With the Winter Olympics coming to an end soon, I wanted to show you one of my favorite ways to elevate your content to world-class status: Google Fusion Tables. It may have a bit of a learning curve, but no one gets a gold medal by playing it safe.

By now, anyone reading this post has heard the phrase “Content is King” when it comes to digital marketing efforts, and you no doubt heard the New York Time’s Snow Fall article referenced nearly as often. We all know what kind of content we are supposed to make, and we’ve all seen amazing examples of this in practice so why do we still treat writing like high school English class?

Well, the main reason is because it’s hard. Most of us either don’t have the skills or the resources to create content like this. But not every post has to be on the cutting edge, and there are many ways you can enhance your next blog post. Google Fusion Tables just happens to be my favorite.

Originally launched in 2009, Google Fusion Tables allows anyone to easily import data overlaid on a map. From there, users can interact with it just like they would a regular Google Map, for example the Guardian used a Fusion Table map to show the meat consumption of different countries. While not the most technically impressive, this map could have been created by anyone, and the most complex task would have been embedding the map into the article.

Now for the more adventurous, Google released a new tool that lets you combine multiple Fusion Tables into a single map. This map uses the combination tool to show the location of New York public schools on a color-coated school district map with a search feature.

The map below has the up-to-date medal count for the Sochi games, but Olympic Map Mk. II will have historical data from the past 94 years of Winter Olympics. The data was gathered in a Google Spreadsheet that was then imported into the Fusion Table. The country borders are already provided by Google, and are color coordinated to match their flags. I did have to do some extra work to create the borders for the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and East and West Germany, but unless you were creating a historical map you wouldn’t need to do this.

In the map below, any country with color won a medal during the Olympics, and you can click each country to see a medal count.

Winter Olympic Medals Country Map

Another great feature with Fusion Table maps is that if you edit the data, the map will automatically update. For example, when these Winter Olympics end, I can simply add in the rest of the 2014 medal data and the map will automatically update. Not sure where to get started? You can download this map and add in your own information.

I encourage anyone who wants to enhance their next blog post to play around with Fusion Tables. It won’t be the answer to everything, but giving a visitor something to play with will always be more interesting than only giving them something to read.

Image credit: silkeybeto