Google has once again released a major update to the guidelines. Historically, these guidelines have preceded algo based penalties for non compliance.
I have highlighted in bold the obvious changes in the document below. The addition of Category selection guidelines is a crucial change to examine.
Get started: Quality guidelines
Google Places brings users and their local businesses together, both online and in the real world. To best serve our end users (and your potential customers), we’ve come up with a list of guidelines for your Google Places account and listings.
Your Google Places Account
Ownership: Only business owners or authorized representatives may verify their business listings on Google Places.
Account Email Address: Use a shared business email account, if multiple users will be updating your business listing. If possible, use an email account under your business domain. For example, if your business website is www.google.com, a matching email address would be firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Business Listing
Business Name: Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world.
Do not include marketing taglines in your business name.
Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name field, unless they are part of your business name.
Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business in the business name field.
Business Location: Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location.
Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. Listings submitted with P.O. Box addresses will be removed.
Use the precise address for the business in place of broad city names or cross-streets.
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. Businesses that operate in a service area should create one listing for the central office or location and designate service areas. Learn how to add service areas to your listing.
Businesses with multiple specializations, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties. You may create one listing per practitioner, and one listing for the office.
Do not include information in address lines that does not pertain your business’s physical location (e.g. URLs, keywords).
Website & Phone: Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.
Use a local phone number instead of a call center number whenever possible.
Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or “refer” users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.
Categories: Provide at least one category from the suggestions provided in the form as you type. Aim for categories that are specific, but brief.
Categories should say what your business is (e.g. Hospital), not on what it does (e.g. Vaccinations) or things it sells (e.g. Sony products or printer paper). This information can be added in your description or as custom attributes.
Categories should not contain location-based information (for example, Dog Walker Los Angeles is not permitted).
Only one category is permitted per entry field. Do not “stuff” entry fields with multiple categories.
Ineligible Business Models: Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a Google Places listing.
Businesses that are under construction or that have not yet opened to the public are not eligible for a listing on Google Places.
Rental properties, such as vacation homes or vacant apartments, are not eligible for a listing on Google Places. Create a listing for the central office that processes the rentals, rather than the individual rental properties. If you’d like, you can then add your real estate properties to Google Maps so that they are available on our Real Estate layer.
Disclaimer:Google reserves the right to suspend access to Google Places or other Google Services to individuals or businesses that violate these guidelines, and may work with law enforcement in the event that the violation is unlawful.
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Google Places Updates Quality Guidelines
by Mike Blumenthal