New Google Maps Business Listing Guidelines – What’s Changed

Google has changed much more than the order of the guidelines with this update. The guidelines are more rigorous and specific than they have been in the past.

I have noted in italics those sections which are completely new.

Previous
Listing Guidelines

Ordered to Match new Guidelines
New
Business
Listing Guidelines
& Order
Ownership
Only enter listings for businesses that you own or are explicitly authorized to represent. Only business owners or authorized representatives may claim their business listings on Google Maps.
Business
Name
Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google Maps should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website. The business name on Google Maps must be your full legal business name.
Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords
into the title field,
Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
and do not include phone numbers or URLs in the title along with your proper business name. Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.
Physical
Location
Provide information that best identifies your individual locations and provides users with the most direct path to your business.
Create only one listing for each physical location of your business. 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. Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
Service area businesses, for example, should not create a listing for every town they service. 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.
Likewise, law firms or doctors should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties. 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 in place of broad city names or cross-streets. 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
For example, you should provide individual location phone numbers in place of central phone lines and the precise address for example you should provide individual location phone numbers in place of central phone lines 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 the one URL that belongs to your business both in terms of the landing page and the displayed URL. Provide one URL that best identifies your individual business location.
Pages that redirect to another domain, or act as “click through” sites may lead to penalization 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. 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.
When entering categories, use only those that directly describe your business. Do not submit related categories that do not define your business. For example, a taxi company might properly categorize itself as “Airport Transportation”, but it would be inaccurate to also use the category “Airport”. Also, please use each category field to enter a
single category. Do not list multiple categories or keywords in one
field.
Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
New Google Maps Business Listing Guidelines - What's Changed by

79 thoughts on “New Google Maps Business Listing Guidelines – What’s Changed”

  1. The reason for citations is to rank tose businesses with the most relevant content to the query higher. Taking advantage of algorithms by altering the legal name of the business is in essence spam. Nothing wrong with abiding by the rules. Work on your citations.

  2. I’m guilty of creating multiple listings in my service area by purchasing a mail box at several Mail Box Etc type locations so I can have a post card validation. Under new guidelines its clear no “Mobile Business” can do this. Having said that Google has now pulled ALL my listings out of results but left my competitors. I’m not sure how I got “marked for death” but I am now forced to give a dozen pink slips to my staff. Based on what has happened to me and other “Mobile Businesses” I feel Google is forcing us to use paid search.

  3. @rob

    sorry to hear of your woes. If you haven’t already done so you might want to read this post and the comments. I think that some of the posters offers up good advice for someone in your situation.

  4. @rob

    Why do you think you got kicked off becuse of the addresses issue? I really don’t think that this is the reason.. Have you been informed that this is really the reason?

  5. @ Mike, Thanks for the interesting post. My situation is similar because I relied heavy on the yellow page books which Google Maps used as an inlay to launch Google Maps. As you can imagine I had 50+ books to service all of southern California so when Google Maps snaked the Yellow pages content for their “own” I was more than happy. Now, after a few years of what I call Google Maps traction I reduced my directory costs to smaller ads so I could budget for AdWords. Although in my industry AdWords is more of a Branding tool than generating a return on my investment I was willing to spend because I believed Google helped me so I wanted to return the favor. Google did help my business but in the end turned it upside down.

  6. @ PureSheer,

    I’m not really sure why Google removed all my listings. I simply claimed my Listings that Google snaked from the Yellow Pages and added pictures, services, a small story about myself starting my own business. One thing I can tell you is if Google continues to ruin business’s “especially” in tough economic times I’m almost certain a loose cannon will blow. Just to give you an idea of what Google has done to my business. I lost 65% of my sales volume which is 350k in just 60 days.

  7. @Rob

    Tell me about that.. it happened to me 3 times in the last year.
    The reasons That Google cleaned you up are as follows:
    1. you have used “too many times” your URL. This is quite foggy definition but it’s not changing the result of been kicked off from the index. I saw that you have many URLs in your site that you can use.
    2. Huge amount of listings under a single account. I’m suggesting to make a listing per account. Believe me, after a bad experiences that is what you need to do.

    DON’T GIVE UP!! RECREATE YOUR CAMPAIGN!!

    The mail issue in the new guidelines is absurd!! don’t pay any attention to it. This is what I’m doing! It’s better to be in the index as a “half criminal” than not to be at all. That is what I think.

    My best tip for you- advertise in other places & try not to relay on Google Maps as a main source as leads provider. If you’ll not do so- you’ll not know what is quite; you’ll chaise your tail forever.

    Good luck!

  8. @ PureSheer, Thanks for the vote of confidence. I have an idea of what I need to do to keep under the radar. I will never give in to the madness. I do have several ads I’m testing in San Diego on the “One Box” Paid Local Placement Google is offering. Seems they don’t really care where you are when their compensated. Sheds a new light on what they really think is moral. Now how does Google plan to Cap the advertisers since only 4 can fit atop the One Box Map. I’m sure they will over sell that space and take advantage of the advertiser. Most likely Google will move it into a CPM type product.

  9. @ PureSheer,

    I created a new LBC acct. Entered 1 Location with New Unique Phone Number assigned to just One LBC ad. A unique url for the LBC ad. Phone Verified the ad. The ad displays when I click “See your listing on Google Maps ” But when I search out the ad by the NON SPAMMY Business Name and the zip code the listing is no where in site.

    What I’m getting from this is although Google LBC says your listing is confirmed validated and should be visible It really isnt. I’ll paste an example below and notice the date.
    Active
    Posted Oct 14, 2009

    0 coupons ( 0 active)
    See your listing on Google Maps

  10. I have been reporting H&R Block for keyword cramming their titles for more then a month. I encouraged other franchisees to report them across the country and they did. Even though they still crammed “income tax preparation service” into their title (their legal name is H&R Block, Inc.). They still appear as the number one listing many times but they are no longer appearing in all of the listings. For example in New York, New York they had a monopoly of the first 3 and a half pages. Everyone was a Block listing. Now they are showing up more reasonably. I beleive the change happened in the past week.

    This board is great. Thanks Mike for the help.

  11. @Rob
    Well- this is part of the bizzaro world of Google Maps.
    Below, I’ll try to make some order for you.

    – When verifying a listing & it’s goes “Active” in the LBC, it’s a matter of how is your industry is tagged with Google- The more the industry is spammy the longer it takes to a listing not only to be under ‘Active’ status but to go on-line. this is not 100% accurate but here are couple of examples-

    1. Listings that goes live (on-line) in the same time of verifying it- most of the industries.
    2. Listings that goes live in a day or two (e.g. Garage Doors industries, Restoration & Remediation services, etc..).
    3. Listings that goes live in 2 weeks (e.g. Towing industry, Flowers).
    4. Listings that goes live in 3 weeks (e.g. Locksmith industry).

    Be patience, it’ll happen!!
    ;-)

  12. @Rob
    Well- this is part of the bizzaro world of Google Maps.
    Below, I’ll try to make some order for you.

    – When verifying a listing & it’s goes “Active” in the LBC, it’s a matter of how is your industry is tagged with Google- The more the industry is spammy the longer it takes to a listing not only to be under ‘Active’ status but to go on-line. this is not 100% accurate but here are couple of examples-

    1. Listings that goes live (on-line) in the same time of verifying it- most of the industries.
    2. Listings that goes live in a day or two (e.g. Garage Doors industries, Restoration & Remediation services, etc..).
    3. Listings that goes live in 2 weeks (e.g. Towing industry, Flowers).
    4. Listings that goes live in 3 weeks (e.g. Locksmith industry).

    Be patience, it’ll happen!!
    ;-)

  13. Google is making life more difficult and no doubt would love to charge to add business’s onto their maps.

    Google maps for business is a basic solution and not the real deal with ViaMichelin or microsoft. I have developed a google API myself and the accuracy is poor and customisation is worse.

    No serious business / company would consider using Google maps for their store / branch finder / locator .

    The latest API’s are so advanced of Google and even their enterprise is poor and overpriced compared to the likes of ViaMichelin and multimap ( now bing ). For coverage in Ireland and content I would suggest you try Viamichelin or for minors business Vm Local for business mapping , Location solutions

  14. As I mentioned this before, Google goes way to far in trying to create an equal playing field. They are actually doing the complete opposite. These new rules, and guidelines, and the combo algo are geared to the much bigger businesses who can afford to all take all the steps necessary to be successful. In my opinion they are ruining the end user experience as well. I am sorry, but I dont think there is anything wrong with a criminal lawyer having their title reflect that, or a painter reflecting that. It is ridiculous..It makes it easier for me to know what I am getting. I mean I dont want to call a Injury lawyer, if I need a dui lawyer…and if I want a lawyer in Houston, I dont want to call one in Dallas…If I was to be listed in the yellow pages, my title would describe who I am. what I do, and where I do it…Why is that a problem? As far as the addresses are concerned…If someone is willing to pay for a UPS box, cuase it is more cost affective then a virtual office, and they want to expand by doing so, then who cares. That is smart business move…..Google became relevant cause we the people made it relevant…We made people care, and now that people care, and spent time and money to promote their services in multiple locations, or let people know what they do, and offer via the categories, Google decides it is not good. It is not fair, and the rich keep getting richer. It is ok to be detailed on your website with the titles and descriptions, and very necessary, so why just leave well enough alone…I am not a fan of spamming at all, but being descriptive is fine with me, and makes it easier for me to find what I want in a timely manner. I like the new interface, but personally the need to be more flexible on their policies, or we should all find another search engine to promote…The world of advertising, marketing, and SEO is desciptive in nature….Lets people know what they are getting!! They are turning this into a sterile enviornment, where the average person will never be able to compete…

  15. Mike, thanks for the post. I run the marketing for a cell phone store franchise owner. We have 45 stores, all with unique locations and phone numbers. I’ve claimed all our stores and all is well for 4 months. Then, today my account got a nasty red bar at the top saying it has been suspended.

    I have used no keywords in title, and have seemingly followed all guidelines Mike listed above. One guy I talked to said I should “start over”, but this wasn’t much of an answer, as I would simply do the exact same listings again for what? To spend 2 weeks redoing it all and getting suspended again?

    I would really appreciate any feedback you guys have.

  16. pOst Boxes do not count as physical locations.

    This is a pain in the neck. Google has got to figure out a solution for local businesses with private addresses…remember, 50% of SMBs are run from home.

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