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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Places Quality Guidelines Update -Ongoing Classes at a Different Location are Ineligible

Nyagoslav of Optilocal was first to highlight this recent Google Places Quality Guideline update:

You also can’t create a Places listing for an ongoing service, class, or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent. Please coordinate with your host to have your information displayed on their Place page as a custom attribute or within their Description field.

The driving class that meets at the local club, the AA meeting at the local church, the Yoga class that meets at community centers, the Lamaz birthing class that meets at the medical center, the farmer’s market at the Mall parking lot…even if independently owned and operated are now explicitly prohibited from having a Places page.

Does the rule make sense? Certainly these types of businesses fall into a grey area and have long been a problem in Google Places. Is Google Places about a Place or about a business?

Given that Google has long contended that Places is supposed to be about a place then I suppose the rule has a logic to it. It is the same logic that would dictate a computer service organization that makes regular visits to the local university should not claim the university as an address.

That being said it points out another hole in Google’s ability to service this whole category of business.  Google’s suggestion to leverage the Place page of the location where a class is held to mention your event makes little sense, particularly since the Place page has become much more sparse. The only real opportunity to highlight a service like this on the location’s Place page would be the “Share an update feature”. Unfortunately that is as buried as the coupon feature. Using the now hidden extra details as Google suggests would be useless and there is not enough space in the 200 character description. Not a helpful suggestion at all.

The other question that comes up is how is this sort of business different than a container business (ie an independent eye glass store that is located within a Walmart)? I think that Google would contend that the container business has a permanent presence and physical infrastructure reflecting their brand where the mobile class does not.

While I feel for the sort of business that is affected by this decision, on average I agree with it and look forward to Google developing a better way for a business that operates like this to present themselves.