Google Places Quality Guidelines Comparison

The newest Places Quality guidelines include a number of significant changes.

In this update Google has not just added new rules but has removed a few specific guidelines from the previous set. A significant one that was noted by Linda Buquet was the removal of the following phrase in regards to content used in the description and the custom attribute fields: This type of content should never appear in your business’s title, address or category fields. It won’t be missed as it was a nearly impossible guideline to comply with.

Google is formally embracing an idea that was previously accepted by them of allowing creation of one listing per practitioner, and one listing for the office. They are also making their clearest statement yet about virtual businesses and their relationship to Places: Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a Google Places listing.

Besides the obvious ban on the common use of Tag lines in a business name and the ban on the use of keyword information in the address field, the biggest changes and ones that will be hard to comply with, (and interesting to see how it is enforced) are the changes on categorization.

Here is a comparison of the previously published guidelines to the new ones on a line by line basis to help better understand these changes. I have italicized the differences in both directions if a significant rule was removed from the older guidelines. Continue reading Google Places Quality Guidelines Comparison

Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?

If likes are the new links then ratings are the new reviews. At least as far as Google is concerned as they continue to integrate elements from Hotpot into Places.

I noted the other day that Google was integrating HotSpot friend recommendations in personalized Map results. They are also now including a new rating level with an eye-catching Best Ever ribbon/icon from Hotpot on the Places Pages.

This sort of additional ego boost might just incent business owners to train their customers how to use Google Hotspot. If Google adds some ranking strength to the signal, business owners will be crashing down the gates to get the rating.

The new Google HotPot offers a more relaxed user feedback environment than Google Places, allowing for just a star rating and a quick sentiment (for hotels & restaurants) but also encouraging, although not requiring, a brief review.

Google Places has recently added the ability to add this simpler, quick Hotpot like star rating to businesses that show in the Related Places area of the Place page (When did they change the name from Nearby Places You Might Like?). The option is only available on Places that have previously received Google reviews.

Continue reading Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?

Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

Several weeks ago, before, during and after the Hotspot rollout, newly created reviews from reviewers with non-public Google profiles were having their Places reviews filtered. I tested this by writing a number of reviews, over time and many places in a secondary account. All of the reviews were accepted, none were published.

Google has now implemented a new, limited review profile called a “Places Profile” that allows reviews  to be shown but requires a new, quasi private profile with at least a public nickname to proceed.

If a current Google account user without a public profile attempts to write a review on a business Place Page without this new Places profile they will see this message on the Places Page and will be unable to proceed until they visit Hotspot and enter their “nickname” (click to view larger) :

They are taken over to Hotspot and presented with this screen:

Continue reading Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

A Reason Not to Move to Canada?

Since starting blogging I have made a number of very good friends and often times get to meet these folks in person. The other benefit (?) is that I occasionally receive unsolicited gifts in the mail. Google sent me a very cool Nexus Phone and a coffee mug. Once I even got a box of 40 count potatoes (the source of all potato jokes… how big was it?…) from your favorite Idaho internet marketer.

Today, in the mail, this Mountie Hat showed up. Obviously a Canuck reader was trying to convince me that while there are possibly good reasons to move to Canada there are also reasons not to. To see why …. Continue reading A Reason Not to Move to Canada?

Google Hotpot Recommendations Now Surfacing on Places Page and Maps

Hotpot, Google’s new recommendation engine for local, while still in its infancy is already influencing results in Places and Maps. In Maps, when a searcher sees a listing that has a review from a Hotpot friend, Google will surface that friend’s snippet in the list view. As such, in this case, it is the most relevant snippet I have ever seen in Maps view. It was surprising to “see a friend” and it was attention grabbing seeing Stever’s icon there. In that regard, it is very rewarding and likely to feed back into the social success of Hotpot…

The friends snippet is not yet showing on a pure Places search but it is showing up prominently on the Places Page. I assume once there is more data and the quality has been confirmed you will see it there and at some point showing in the organo local blended results as well. (click to see full size)
Continue reading Google Hotpot Recommendations Now Surfacing on Places Page and Maps

Google Places – Do 800#’s Put Your Listing in Places Purgatory?

The general consensus in the Local Search industry has been that using an 800# in a Places listing might be a cause for some loss of rank but was generally not considered a deal breaker. Has the new Google Places Rejection algo now found a place for burying businesses that use an 800 number?

This poster, who recently had been relegated to Google Places Purgatory, found his way back to the promised land by simply replacing his 800# with a local exchange:

My Listing disappeared from Google Maps even though my listing is “active”

Level 1
I received an email from Google Places advising me that my business Google Places tag was recently deactivated for violating Google Places Quality Guidelines. I made changes to the tag line and the listing is completely accurate. However, my listing does not appear on google even though my listing appears as “active.” Please help.

Level 2
Yep… 2009 geo phrase tricks in the business categories… Google will no longer support that location.  While you have to reset up your listing in another account maybe its time to consider using a local line over the 800#.

Level 1
Looks like the phone number was the problem. I changed the 800 number to the main land line and the listing appeared. You all have been very helpful. Thanks again for all of your help!

Google Places Updates Quality Guidelines

Google last rolled out the last major Places Quality Guidelines update almost exactly one year ago. There have been a number of often critical additions (here, here and here) during the past 12 months.

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. Continue reading Google Places Updates Quality Guidelines

Google Places – You Are Not Rejected, Not Suspended – You are in Places Purgatory

When does the word active simply not mean active in Google Places? When you are in Google Places Purgatory.

Wikipedia: “purgatory”, derived through Anglo and Old French from the Latin word purgatorium.[8] has come to refer also to a wide range of historical and modern conceptions of postmortem suffering short of everlasting damnation,[1] and is used, in a non-specific sense, to mean any place or condition of suffering or torment, especially one that is temporary.[9]

Google has always imposed neo-religious judgements on users of its products. Google Places is no exception and in fact seems to raise these judgements to a new level of a refined, modern theology.

Rejections are a major sin but from which one can reclaim oneself anonymously via algo with a corrected behavior.

Pending is like being at church on Sunday where the line to the confessional stretches interminably before you and you have to use the restroom but are afraid that you will loose your place. Sometimes it seems that your booth gets closed before all the cases have been reviewed and the process needs to resume next Sunday. Do not confuse this state with purgatory although it might seem like it.

Suspension is roughly akin to excommunication although with a thorough confession and plenty of time, a lister can come back into Google’s graces.

The “Term not Allowed” word filter reflects a minor sin of thought, where just by correcting your language you can be readmitted to the fold. It mirrors formal religion’s attempt to control behaviors through imposition of minor dogmas in the hopes that compliance with larger scale issues will flow naturally from the initial compliance.

Like in many religions, the logic of these minor dogmas is often not clear. In a Google Places listing, the words Fountain, domination and stripper are banned along with sex and erection regardless of context. These words require priestly interventions to have their flags cleared but fortunately require no mea culpas or other ritualistic penitence.

The ban on the word Google must be roughly akin to the biblical ban on speaking the word Yaweh. How the word locksmith fits into this scheme is not totally clear although the common first letter with the word Lucifer comes to mind.

Clearly in this regard Google is not much different than the grade school nun or for that matter Steve Jobs. Although at least with Jobs, you can have a high degree of confidence that in the end you will not be pummeled with porn. With Google, there are no such guarantees.

But at least the above fallen states are explicit and there is (usually) a clear path to regain acceptance amongst the flock. Continue reading Google Places – You Are Not Rejected, Not Suspended – You are in Places Purgatory

Google Rolls Boost Out to 11 Additional Cities & Illinois

Google just announced that Boost, their new simplified Local Adword Product, is now available in the following cities:

* San Jose
* Seattle
* Wichita
* Charlottesville (VA)
* Atlanta
* Chapel Hill
* Orlando
* Washington D.C.
* Boston
* Cross Plains (TX)
* Portland (ME)
* All local businesses in Illinois.

The announcement indicates that Boost as configured is working well. The borad and rapid roll out indicates that Google is ramping quickly and we should see Boost available nationally and probably internationally in the not too distant future.

I am curious from those of you that have tried it, your impressions.

Google Places Upgrade: Reviews with Sentiments & Hotel Booking Tool

Along with the recent rollout of Hotpot, Google has added new review related features to the Places Page. The first, available on restaurants and hotels (perhap more but not on every type of business) allows you to summarize sentiment about the location:



The ability to quickly and easily add sentiment will further build out Google’s data in the service industries. As users fill out more reviews, friends make more recomendations Google will use this additional data to refine and improve those recommendations.

On all Places Pages your rating is now visible and with hotels Google has now also added the ability to book your hotel right from the Places Page:

This feature facilitates the process of getting bookings and removes friction from it. It also provides additional advertising inventory for Google from hotel booking services. The feature is not totally mercenary as it also offers up the hotel site for booking and gives the hotel a 1 in 4 chance of not having to give money to Priceline et al while still getting a sale.

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