Google Maps Updates Business Listing Guidelines

Barry at SEORoundtable has just reported that Google Maps has just updated the Business Listing Guidelines.

Here are the new Guidelines:

Business Listing Quality Guidelines

Local Business Center Guidelines

Business Listings in Local Business Center must have correct information about physical, local businesses, as they appear in the real world. Google reserves the right to suspend access to Local Business Center or to other Google Services to individuals or businesses violating these guidelines.

Ownership

  • Only business owners or authorized representatives may claim their business listings on Google Maps.

Business Name

  • The business name on Google Maps must be your full legal business name.
  • Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
  • Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.

Physical Location

  • Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
  • PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.
  • Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
  • Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.
  • Businesses with special services, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties.
  • The precise address for the business must be provided in place of broad city names or cross-streets.
  • A property for rent is not considered a place of business. Please create one listing for the central office that processes the rentals.

URL & Phone

  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible. For example, you should provide an individual location phone number in place of a call center.
  • Provide one URL that best identifies your individual business location.
  • Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ‘refer’ users to other landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.

Custom Attributes & Description

  • Use the description and custom attribute fields to include additional information about your listing. This type of content should never appear in your business’s title, address or category fields.
  • Please see this page of the LBC User Guide for examples of acceptable custom attributes.

Best Practices

  • Use a shared, business email account, if multiple users will be updating your business listing.
  • If possible, use an email account with a domain that matches your business URL. For example, if your business website is www.giraffetoys.com, a matching email address would be you@giraffetoys.com.

Contact Us

For more information about the Local Business Center, please visit the Local Business Center user guide.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps Updates Business Listing Guidelines by

22 thoughts on “Google Maps Updates Business Listing Guidelines”

  1. Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.

    This is interesting as a recent presentation the Google’s Maps team created for a business with hundreds of listings has an optimization slide which states “Include the actual City you are located in within the title.”

  2. @Adam

    Even more interesting to me is The business name on Google Maps must be your full legal business name.

    That is a much more rigorous standard. Even ATT and H&R Block are violating it.

  3. Has the “full legal business name” has been part of the guidelines for a while now? In my opinion it is (or was) a very gray area. Obviously, the title of the business is a key factor and now I wonder if it is worth recommending a business to spend the money to get a “DBA” that includes keywords.

    Mike, as far as H&R Block go, the franchisees in one of my markets is violating so many of these guidelines and have even gone as far as including themselves in the Certified Public Accounting category (which they’re not).

  4. Those are rigorous guidelines. Interesting find that AT&T and H&R Block are currently violating those guidelines.

    Mike: In that Google Maps personnel recently, quietly, and quickly fixed an erroneous onebox record on behalf of Holiday Inn in one day, as you are aware, and Google never commented about it when reported in Google Groups I’d be surprised if Google was to enforce those guidelines on huge companies that probably pay a lot in PPC.

    I suspect Google will have a hard time enforcing this. In fact it would take manpower. Cripes they might as well use the manpower to fix problems as detailed by the many struggling businesses who ask for help in google groups but aren’t huge entities like Holiday Inn.

    Nevertheless, that requirement is appropriate in trying to tighten up things.

    I wonder if it would cause a rush to change the legal names of businesses?

    “Times they are a changing”

  5. Mike,

    Thanks as always for keeping us in the know.

    I hope that with these clearly outlined guidelines we will see a better response to reports of spam – such as what I’ve been seeing in the results for terms like “Los Angeles bathroom remodeling contractors” for quite some time, and reported several times.

    It’s too bad for people who conduct business from a home office that P.O. Boxes can not be used as addresses (I have a client that is a Therapist who does this, and doesn’t want her physical address quite so prominently visible like that). For accuracy’s sake, I think it would be better to use a true P.O. Box rather than a box at a “UPS Store” – at least with a P.O. Box you’re not scamming potential customers.

    @Kevin – I’m also curious about the acceptability of the use of legal DBA’s in place of the “full legal business name”.

  6. hello ,Mike, as far as H&R Block go, the franchisees in one of my markets is violating so many of these guidelines and have even gone as far as including themselves in the Certified Public Accounting category (which they’re not.

  7. I also have a very large client who is in the appliance sells and repair business that would appear to be violating the physical location section.
    As it is, they repair crew work from vans and have no actual location other than the home office, which they don’t want listed as it’s a private residence.

    We will use their main service area as the city and zip but as for address, it’s been just verbage such as ” for all your appliance repair needs” or some such thing. Naturally we don’t ask for these listings to be white listed as they don’t follow the guidelines, so how would Google view these of mobile businesses? Insist the home office address be used?

    I agree with Earl that it would take a large number of people to actually police the guidelines. And We so fro time to time add the city name to the Legal Business name, I call it creative license. :)

  8. Yes, with these new guidelines in place I will have to revisit those listings and discuss with the Account Manager what the next steps are.

  9. Hi, I’m trying to find out how to list my company on Google maps. I see many other companies with a small square showing the location ( aerial view) and the company name…. I am registered with Google’s Business listing ( Consolidated Packaging) but cannot figure out how to have my company name pasted ontop of our building!

    I see many companies with this feature on Google maps… I also tried going through the Google Help menus !

    Any pointers or help appreciated.

  10. @Phil

    When google has a very high degree of confidence in a business at a location, they add it to the base map layer. They are particularly interested in certain business types (like restaurants & hotels) but will add others as well. It is not documented actually what it takes for the designation.

  11. Hello Mike,
    Very kind of you to respond and quickly too…. :)

    Ok, so its up to Google and not the individual to have ones name… It seems such a good feature..often I look for a company (via post code ) get to the general area and cannot pin point which building I need to go to……. at least with the company names attached on the aerial view it makes life a lot easier.

    Just have to wait for Google to give us the ability…. Hope that’s soon!

    Again thanks
    Phil.

  12. @Phil

    The question I have is how does a business give google the confidence to add your business to the base layer of the map….anybody?

  13. I wonder..! Me, I’m just a SME ( small company) ..no ways we can make waves like the Big Blues etc.. ( Holiday Inns…) So that leaves us out in the cold… we need the help more than Big Blue I would say…!
    Credentials wise…. not sure…. give Google access to our books!…

    I would say the best option is to charge a small fee and let everyone build a highly useful feature on Google maps. Me, I thinks its invaluable to be able to see which building a company is located in.

    Maybe even a “Google Business Maps” server…

    That’s my tuppence :)
    Phil

  14. I just found your post while doing some research on Local SEO for a medical center with 11 different physical sites, all located within a 50 mile radius (multiple small towns in a large metro area). Would Google approve of creating a separate Place Page and LBC listing for each physical location, with all of them linking to the corporate homepage? That seems to me a logical way to proceed — and to collect citations for each. Does this approach fit within the rules you list here?

  15. Hi Cindy

    Each location can certainly have its own places page and lbc entry.

    Google wouldn’t disapprove of them going to one page BUT the user experience would be better and Google (I think) would encourage each Places Page to go to a page specific to that location.

  16. I’m surprised the new guidelines didn’t stipulate the physical address must be zoned for business. The maps are address sentitive to what zone they fall in too….so ??? That might be next, who knows?

  17. Has the “full legal business name” has been part of the guidelines for a while now? In my opinion it is (or was) a very gray area Obviously, the title of the business is a key factor and now I wonder if it is worth recommending a business to spend the money to get a “DBA” that includes keywords.

  18. “Full legal business name” was added to the guidelines and within a week was removed. I do believe that Google will need to enforce naming in a more rigorous way so it is always the safe bet to have a DBA.

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