As a general rule, Google Places has been providing major updates to the quality guidelines in late fall with the most recent last November. Minor updates occur as needed but most frequently occur in the spring.
This update (highlighted below in yellow) occurred on June 2 and has import for a range of businesses:
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 or for sale 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 sales or leasing offices, rather than the individual rental or sale properties.
- You cannot create Places listings for stores which you do not own, but which stock your products. Instead, consider asking the store owner to update their own Places listing with a custom attribute specifying brands or products they stock, including yours.
Clearly it makes sense that a local tire company that sells Bridgestone tires should not be included in Bridgestone’s local marketing efforts or bulk uploads. But the world of small business is messy. At the extremes are a single location local business and a company owned store. In between there every type of relationship from independent reps to franchises. Within franchises there are varying degrees of control and corporate identity.
As the Places Quality Guidelines have evolved they have attempted to clarify and codify what is and what isn’t a Place of business. Sometimes that has gone better than others. While this rule makes sense and if taken literally is mostly clear, it is always the edge cases that create havoc. And in this situation the edge cases are plentiful.
The example I gave above is obvious. Valley Tire should not be claimed by Bridgestone just because Valley Tire sells their brand. But what about Avon Representatives? They are independent reps that usually are dedicated to selling only the Avon line of products although since they are independent they could also sell Tupperware or Cutco. But it appears that they have been claimed.
As you move into the service area one wonders whether this guideline applies at all as it specifically refers to products. But what of the insurance agent that primarily sells a single brand of insurance? Is he eligible to be listed by national company? And what if he gave permission to the national company to do so on his behalf?
This rule on its face makes lots of sense. Businesses and SEOs alike would be best served if Google addressed some of the possible scenarios that this guideline covers and take a few minutes to clarify their thinking.