Google Places Guideline Update: Now Allowing Descriptors in Business Title

Google has announced an update to their Places Guidelines and now is explicitly allowing owners to add a descriptor, via the Places or Plus Dashboard, that helps people locate the business or describes what the business offers. From the post (bold is mine to highlight the significant change):

  • Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title.

  • In addition to your business’s real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers.

  • Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.

  • Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are “Starbucks Downtown” or “Joe’s Pizza Delivery”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery“, or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.

Obviously for Google to make this change, they must think that they can control the inane and insane abuse that is likely to occur. Either businss name is no longer so important in defining search results or the descriptor (which can only be added via the dashboard) is ignored or Google is so confident that they know what the business name is that they can penalize abusers.

Or none of the above and the recent decline in the quality of their local index will continue to new lows.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Guideline Update: Now Allowing Descriptors in Business Title by

67 thoughts on “Google Places Guideline Update: Now Allowing Descriptors in Business Title”

  1. But that’s my point, categories and what Google can find on the net already make it so that Google knows what a business does without the need for a descriptor. When I search “jewelers” in Holliston, MA in local; your client is #2.

  2. I understand your point now – thanks for making it clear. They would not get any benefit out of using Jeweler because it’s a category. If we add the location as the descriptor it may help because Holliston Jewelers come up for “jewelers Holliston” as #1. Different search results come up for jeweler vs jewelers.

    If we were to add a descriptor for any client, for any reason, do you need to update their citations? That’s my main question. We have other clients that could benefit using the descriptor.

  3. If we were to add a descriptor for any client, for any reason, do you need to update their citations?

    I think for the most part the answer is no.

    Google is obviously confident that adding a single descriptor to a name will not disrupt their ability to attach business information from around the web to your listing cluster.

    They are capable of tracking multiple names for any given organization (you can see that in MapMaker) and Flash can speak to it better than I. So it is likely that this variation will not change their understanding of what the business is named.

    That being said, I think it is probably safest to just add the descriptor to the end of the name rather than in the middle to minimize any chance of them getting it wrong.

  4. Hi Mike,

    I just tested adding a descriptor to a client’s name and you’re right it didn’t require verification.

    I’ve been wrestling for months to determine the reason their G+ page wasn’t appearing in local search and assumed it was most likely connected with the fact that I had to set up a new page after the previous one was accidentally deleted by the client.

    However, I now believe it must have been a simple relevance problem for google even though the G+ page clearly describes the business activity, as does their website and countless other citations. The closest category allowable by google in the Places account was a poor match. Adding the descriptor to the business name triggered G+ appearances in local search for their “main k/w + state” within 5 minutes of adding the descriptor. Earned my crust for another day. 🙂

  5. I have an update, though I know this is still being discussed. Map Maker is standing firm with the results of my escalation; descriptors are not to be added. Places is standing firm also, so the rule now is that a single descriptor can be added by the owner only, and via Places only. Descriptors added this way will not be removed via Map Maker, but descriptors from other sources can be deleted and no descriptors will be approved via Map Maker (which also does the approvals for edits via Maps, Google+, etc).

    The guidelines for Map Maker have been updated to reflect this current position. As currently written, the name with the descriptor cannot be the Primary name, and Map Maker users have the option to add the name without the descriptor and mark that as Primary. This means the name with descriptor would still exist for search purposes, but not show.

  6. Is it okay to add a dash in the descriptor? I have clients with multiple locations, and looking at large companies like Whole Foods, their descriptors appear like “Whole Foods – Bowery” to separate the name from the location.

  7. @Chris

    I have some personal injury law firm clients and was wondering if you could send me your example of changes you made.

    feel free to email me as well if you want to avoid details in these comments (

    What I’m wondering is – what was your title before adding your descriptor? then what was the descriptor and where did you place the descriptor (before, after, etc..)?

    Anxious to hear your response.

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