Updated (Nov 2014) Rules for Google+Local for Business Listings

Google Local Business Listings

Google local business listings can appear in 3 places in the search results for Google: in Google Maps, in Google+ and within the organic Google web results. Since Google owns the lion’s share of local search traffic AND organic search traffic, it’s very important that both your website and your local listing rank well in Google in order for searchers to discover your company.   Types of Google Local Results

Before your Google listing can rank at all in either Google Maps or in the Local Packs of search results, you have to get listed and that’s not always as easy as it may sound. Sometimes, it’s not possible to create a listing, sometimes you can’t get it verified and sometimes it never goes live because it doesn’t make it through Google’s review and approval process. This can sometimes be due to a bug on Google’s end, but much more often, it’s because you’ve violated one or more of Google’s requirements for having a business listing.

Google publishes quality guidelines for its local business listings. Think of these as rules, not guidelines, because failure to follow most of them will either keep you from being listed at all OR from ever ranking well in Google.  The exceptions are where it clearly states “if possible”. But if it is possible, just do it.

I suspect that there are unpublished guidelines, too, that are not visible to us. Some of them eventually make it onto the list we can all see, but in the meantime, we just have to guess at what may or may not be acceptable now or in the future. To confuse matters more, Google sometimes leaves old, but undated information up on its pages, so you’re not really sure if what you’re reading is currently applicable or not.

Whether you are creating a new business listing or modifying an existing one, it’s wise to follow Google’s current Places quality guidelines. Here they are in italics as of November 2014, with my notes about them in blue. Additions and changes made in the 6 months are written in green. 

Google Places quality guidelines

Google My Business 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 My Business. If you wish to share access to your local page with others, you can so so by adding a manager.

Note: The new My Business dashboard allows you to retain ownership of your listings while enabling others to perform some functions within the listing and on the Plus pages. This can resolve a lot of listing ownership issues that have caused problems in the past. You should always own your own listings.

In October 2014, Googler Jade Wang, posted this in the Google and Your Business help forum:

Today, we’re launching business accounts, which is an improved way you can share management of your locations, for upgraded Google My Business Locations users.

Business accounts provide a safe way to share management of your locations with multiple users. Business accounts are like a shared folder for your locations–a simple way to share access to a set of locations with coworkers.

Once you create a business account, you can transfer locations in your account to any business account that you own.

You can add other users as managers to a business account. These managers will be able to manage locations in the business account simply by logging into their own accounts. Please learn more about the different roles of business account owner and business account manager in our Help Center.

Please learn more about transferring ownership of a business account, deleting a business account, and more in our Help Center.

As always, you can contact our support team for help with any Google My Business Locations issues.

Who should use business accounts?

If you are currently sharing your account username and password with other users, you should transition to using a business account as a safer way to work together. We recommend that most organizations create one business account for all their locations.

Should I be using multiple business accounts?

If you want multiple people to be able to manage all of the locations in your account, you should make one business account for all the locations.

If you want different people to be able to manage different large sets of locations, you may want to create a different business account for each set of locations. Keep in mind each business account requires a separate a spreadsheet for importing location information.

If you want different people to be able to manage different smaller sets of locations in your account, you may want to simply add these accounts as managers to the specific locations desired.

Can one business account be added as a manager to another business account?

No, currently, business accounts cannot act as managers of other business accounts.

How do I transfer locations in my account into a business account owned by another account?

If you’d like to transfer locations to a business account owned by someone else, first create a temporary business account. Next, transfer the locations to the temporary business account. Then, transfer ownership of the temporary business account to the owner of the other account. Finally the owner of the other account can transfer the locations to their account.

If locations are bulk verified, it’s important to make sure that both users are verified for the locations to remain verified on Google.

Note: While getting My Business listings out of personal accounts and into accounts “owned” by the business is good for Google and business owners, this seems like an unnecessarily convoluted process. Whenever Google introduces something new, it tends to be buggy, so I wouldn’t jump on this one unless I was claiming (or creating) a business listing for the first time or having problems.


Your Business Listing

Business Name:

  • 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 Restaurant”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.

The recent change in this guideline (changed Feb 2014) is significant. You may now add a “single descriptor” to your business name. That single descriptor can be a location and if it is a location, then several words can be used in the “single descriptor” like 16th St Mall, Glenwood Springs, South Denver, etc. It is unclear if this change was intended to include descriptors that are not related to location. Therefore, caution should be used in testing phrases like Cosmetic to Dentist, or Personal Injury to Attorney or Emergency to Plumber.

Business Location: Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location.

  • Do not create a listing or place your pin marker at a location where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. Your business location should be staffed during its stated hours
    • Exceptions to the above are self-serve businesses such as ATMs or video-rental kiosks. If adding these locations, you should include contact information for customers to get help.
  • If you need to specify a mail box or suite number within your physical location, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your mail box or suite number in Address Line 2.
  • 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.
    • Individual practitioners may be listed individually as long as those practitioners are public-facing within their parent organization. Common examples of such practitioners are doctors, dentists, lawyers, and real estate agents. The practitioner should be directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours. A practitioner should not have multiple pages to cover all of his or her specializations

Google wants to have listings for individual “practitioners”, as long as they have their own phone numbers and interact directly with the public. Those listings should reflect the actual hours that particular practitioner regularly spends at that location

  • Departments within businesses, universities, hospitals, and government buildings may be listed separately. These departments must be publicly distinct as entities or groups within their parent organization, and ideally will have separate phone numbers and/or customer entrances.Businesses that operate in a service area, as opposed to a single location, should not create a listing for every city they service.

If you have an large organization with many different departments, each is entitled to its own business listing on Google, but don’t create a bunch of different listings just for the sake of having more listings. Think of this as a way to provide additional, reliable information about your organization to the public. If your university, for example, has a separate phone number and office for admissions, then it makes sense for the Admissions Department to have it’s own listing with its own address, phone number and Map pin. But if all of the administration for the university is housed in one building and all calls are routed through a single phone number, then a separate listing for the Admissions department doesn’t make sense and should not be created.

  • Businesses that operate in a service area should create one listing for the central office or location and designate service areas. If you wish to display your complete business address while setting your service area(s), your business location should be staffed and able to receive customers during its stated hours. Google will determine how best to display your business address based on your inputs as well as inputs from other sources. Learn more about service area businesses.
service areas in Google local

Designating a service area for your Google Local business listing

Google has a (new?) separate page that explains more about SABs (Service Area Businesses). It says:

Not all local businesses serve their customers from a brick-and-mortar storefront. For example, some businesses operate from a home address. Others are mobile and have no central location.

If your business serves customers at their locations, you should list it as a service area business on Google.

Note: Google doesn’t want to show the locations of businesses that only go to the customer (rather than the customer coming to the business’ location) because it doesn’t want the customer driving to your warehouse or home office to try to conduct business with you.  

You will be able to set service areas based on the zip codes or cities you serve, or on a given area around your location.

You additionally have the option to indicate I serve customers at my business address. You should only select this option if you want your complete address to display on Google and if your business location is staffed and able to receive customers during its stated hours.

If you previously used the old Places for Business dashboard, you’ll notice that we no longer have the Do not show my business address on my Maps option. We will apply the correct address settings for your business based on your choices from the new dashboard and the nature of your business.

Your service area is the area you designate as where you are willing to travel to provide your services. You may also check a  box that indicates that you also serve customers at your location. Some of the types of businesses affected include carpet cleaners, plumbers, roofers and document shredders. Many home-based businesses also fit into this category. This one trips up a lot of people, but if you put the correct information in this section of your listing (Address), you shouldn’t get into any trouble with Google. 

Note: Some verified businesses will require another round of verification for changes in address.

Anytime the address for your business changes, you may have to go through the verification process verify again. 

  •  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.

Note: Google wants the person who sees your listing to be able to call and speak to someone actually there at the business location. While big brands often list call center numbers, local businesses can help to prevent confusion and listing merges by publishing their local phone with the area code as their primary number. Put your  toll free number as a secondary number in your listing.

  • 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.

Note: Point the link in your listing only to your own website. If you have more than one location, point each listing to a unique page on your website about that location. Beware of marketing companies who try to persuade you to point your link to a page on their website instead of to your own website. If you don’t have a website, get one!

Categories: Select at least one category from the list of available categories.

  • Categories should depict what your business is (e.g. Hospital), not what it does (e.g. Vaccinations) or products it sells (e.g. Sony products or printer paper). This information can be added in your description.

Note: You may choose a primary category – make this the most important one for your business – and up to 9 additional categories. Use as many as you can that are truly applicable to what you do and/or sell, but do not include anything iffy.

Other Items of Note

Illegal activities: Fraudulent or illegal activities aren’t tolerated on Google and may result in account suspension and removal of listing information from search results.

Country restrictions: Google My Business is not available in certain countries.

Ineligible Business Models

  • Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a local page on Google My Business.

Note: You only qualify for a listing for your business’ actual physical location and not for anywhere else, even it is a city, town or neighborhood that you service.

  • Businesses that are under construction or that have not yet opened to the public should not be added to Google My Business.
  • Rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes or vacant apartments, are not eligible to be listed on Google Maps and should not be verified. Instead, verify the listing for your sales or leasing office or offices. If you have a property with an on-site office, you may verify that office location.
  • You can’t add business information for stores which you do not own, but which stock your products.
  • You also can’t add a local page  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 within their Description field.

Marketing, promotions, or other contests

  • Any promotion, marketing, contests, or other giveaways should clearly link to the terms of the activity and provide clear guidelines and qualifications. All such promises, given or implied, should be adhered to.

Note: Google reserves the right to suspend access to Google My Business 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.

Don’t be surprised if you see businesses that violate these guidelines ranking well in the Search results. Only Google knows why, but it’s probably because its listing  hasn’t been reviewed lately. Don’t let the fact that someone else is getting away with something prompt you to do it, too, unless you are willing to deal with the possible consequences, which can include poor rankings, listing removal and/or account suspension.

Because they can and do change without warning or notification from Google,  check these  quality guidelines again before you create any new business listings at Google+.

UPDATE: April 3, 2013

Googler, Jade W provided this information in the Places help forum:

Website guidelines update for chain businesses

Google Places for Business bulk user? We’ve made some clarifications to our guidelines for the way you can list websites:

  • We do not allow URLs that allow redirection, though adding tracking parameters to your regular URL for the business or the business location is allowed. 
  • What the user clicks on the URL you provide, that URL should also show up in the browser URL bar when your page loads, and that URL should be off the official top level domain for your business. 

While this was published in the forum, it does not appear in the guidelines themselves, which is a common problem with the information we get from Google.  Although this seems to be specifically aimed at those doing bulk uploads of multiple locations, I infer that none of the URLs that you place in your Google business listings should be routed through redirects.

115 Responses to “Updated (Nov 2014) Rules for Google+Local for Business Listings”

  1. Great info Mary. I always forgot to check the forum and this is a reminder that I need to.

  2. I had some ‘violation’ issues I had to deal with recently.

    I run a solo, service-area business. However, I also, on occasion. deal with face-to-face customers at my home/office location. Google apparently only deals with absolutes, and will not allow a listing unless certain unpublished conditions are also met.

    (quoted from various emails with local-help@google.com)

    ” In order to display your address at a residential location you must have a sign displaying your business name and allow customer walk-ins anytime during your operating business hours”,

    “Only locations that have regular store hours and accept walk in customers ‘off the street’ are allowed to have their address shown”,

    “Residential addresses or locations that require appointments are not allowed to show their address”.

    Through many requests, I was never pointed to where these ‘rules’ are posted or available. Arguing the point was like having a conversation with an auto-responder. Since I need my listing, I eventually just gave up, and hid my location. It’s been several days, and I’m still waiting for my listing to be reactivated.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Ron. I haven’t seen that email, yet. Any chance you could email a copy of the thread to me at marybbowling@gmail.com ?

      It’s unfortunate that all of the rules that Google works from aren’t published and publicized. It would make it so much easier for legit businesses to do what’s required of them.

      • Hi Mary

        I run my business from a home office/ workshop setup which has a pin pointed listing at my home address on G maps for customers to visit.

        I’ve just bought a commercial property at another address in the city that I’m about to staff and serve customers from also.

        I want to create a new listing for the new address as well as keep the old one, how do I go about this the right way?

        Both listings will share the same website, email, phone number etc.

  3. Hi,

    I just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. If I have to list my address as my residential address, I do not have to show it? I have just received my google card with the code on it, can I still hide my address? Thank you very much

    • @Kristin
      Yes, you can hide your address at any point:
      Check this -> I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location
      But do not check this -> I also serve customers at my business address

  4. Thanks for the great insight Mary. It’s so important to not only understand the quality guidelines, but to be able to read between the lines. You have done an excellent job of accomplishing that here!

  5. Thanks, Colan. I’ll try to do a better job of keeping this post updated with changes in the future.

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  7. We have a number of clients who are realtors and therefore use their cell phone number rather than the floor number as they don’t trust whoever is answering the phone:) How can this impact their Local Listings?

    Thank you

    Pamela Ravenwood
    • Mike Blumenthal May 9, 2014 at 3:03 am Reply

      Phone number is key to the NAP consistency and keeping the cluster of data that Google has about a business intact. As long as the same number is used EVERYWHERE it doesn’t really matter whether it is a land line or a mobile number, Google will accumulate and store the data successfully.

  8. I had setup a Google places listing for my service area business and was approved. I used my UPS store mailbox as the address. This was last year before it was really clear how to use G Places and all these policy updates.

    How do I correct this. It seems my G+ account is now linked to the G Places account. Should I delete both the G+ and G Places accounts and start with a new G+ account only?

  9. Mike Blumenthal May 9, 2014 at 2:54 am Reply

    1- You must know by now that UPS store mailboxes are not an allowed address.
    2- I assume that your listing is still acitve?
    3- If it is then you should update it with your home address and hide that address.
    4- Deleting things never really works in Google. They keep track of it all and it is best just to get what you have corrected
    5- Places and Plus are married at the hip. There is no just a G+ anymore.

  10. When you have multiple people at the same office address with different phone numbers, do find they are competing with each other to show up in local search? Wouldn’t it be better to pool all the reviews and citations for the business to help the overall business rank?

  11. Well in my knowledge the first few search results are probably from the well known large national directories followed by lesser known local directories. The potential customer will click on one of these search results and then select the business to call.

  12. Hi,
    I run the websites for a lawyer who specializes in multiple areas – family law, injury law, criminal law & drink driving, and we have separate websites for each of these specialties
    I want to create a google places listing for each of these websites / specialties, but have only one physical address & phone number.
    Can you please tell me how i can do this.

    I notice there are many other law firms that appear in multiple google places listings for each of their specialties, and they all use the same address and phone number, and all point back to the same website, so i am guessing it can be done – I just can’t figure it out.
    Many thanks for your help in this frustrating exercise!

    • Tracy
      A practice can have listings for different lawyers but not different listings for each specialty. Doing so runs the high risk of having your listings suspended.

      Here are the Google Guidelines:
      Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
      Individual practitioners may be listed individually as long as those practitioners are public-facing within their parent organization. Common examples of such practitioners are doctors, dentists, lawyers, and real estate agents. The practitioner should be directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours. A practitioner should not have multiple listings to cover all of his or her specializations.

  13. Thank you Mary for your kind information! You have offered very brief information about guidelines and rules of Google+ local business listings. You should be aware of each Google business listings rules that are described in this informative post.

  14. PLEASE HELP ME…I’m tearing my hair out trying to work out why my business will not show listed in local towns.
    If I search ..Pest control Keniwlroth we come on the list as B (map) along with other co’s.
    If I search Pest control Coventry or Warwick ..we do not get listed..every other man & his do do !!.
    Also if I search ‘wasps kenilworth’ we are not listed either …but the others are …even companies that are not local.
    No pin drop on the map.
    I so very much need to get this sorted as the wasp season is almost upon us.
    Any help appreciated.

  15. Wendy there are hundreds of ranking factors in the Google Local Algorithms. It’s not possible to zero in on what you might need to do here. I suggest starting with the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey http://moz.com/search-ranking-factors/survey to try to understand what you might need to do to increase your rankings for the locations that are important to your business. You may also wish to consider hiring a local UK SEO firm to help you.

  16. From reading this blog and other info, I thought I had everything setup correctly.
    This is my google+ page https://plus.google.com/111068424210783631715/posts

    In the upper section it does not show my street address and only shows the city. If I click on the city, it goes to google maps. The pin it shows is not on my home as I moved it on purpose because it was pinpointing right on my house.
    What I thought I should see on the map is a big 35 mile circle to indicate my service area, but that does not show.

    Also if I go to google maps directly and enter “MrHoni Photography” in the search field, it will display my business name followed by my street, but doesn’t display the street address. I don’t want it to display the street, just my business name, city and a service area.

    • Mike Blumenthal July 7, 2014 at 9:50 am Reply

      On the old Maps and in the Knowledge Panel it will show the service area. It does not show service area in the new Maps. However because your business name is in violation of naming guidelines, it is unlikely your listing will show in a Knowledge Panel.

      • This is my business name:
        “MrHoni Photography – Pet Photography and People Photography San Jose, South Bay and Mid-Peninsula”

        I thought I read that is is good to put your location. I’m pretty sure I had first used “MrHoni Photography – Pet Photography and People Photography” and then added on the locations.

        Are you saying the rules indicate I should not have both and just pick either “Pet Photography and People Photography” or “San Jose, South Bay and Mid-Peninsula”?

        Also, what/where is a Knowledge Panel?

        • Mike Blumenthal July 7, 2014 at 1:58 pm

          The key to the guideline from Google is “Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title”. That means that your website, the way you answer your calls and the yellow page ads should all be the same as your Google name (plus one descriptor).

  17. Keith, These are the official Google guidelines for a business listing name:

    Business Name:

    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 Restaurant”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.

    These are my comments on a change that took place to this section in Feb:

    The recent change in this guideline (changed Feb 2014) is significant. You may now add a “single descriptor” to your business name. That single descriptor can be a location and if it is a location, then several words can be used in the “single descriptor” like 16th St Mall, Glenwood Springs, South Denver, etc. It is unclear if this change was intended to include descriptors that are not related to location. Therefore, caution should be used in testing phrases like Cosmetic to Dentist, or Personal Injury to Attorney or Emergency to Plumber.

    It is best to refer directly to the source – the official guidelines – whenever you have question about them.

    • So you think either of these 2 “MrHoni Photography – Pet Photography and People Photography” or “MrHoni Photography – San Jose, South Bay and Mid-Peninsula” would fit within the guidelines?


  18. Hello,

    I have an existing Riara University google + account and I have recently added a google +
    business page and a google + university page. But the info that I added in the business page doesnt appear on the side bar during a google search for the university. What might be the problem?
    Kindly help or advice

    • @Paul
      The Knowledge Panel (as the information to the right of the search area is called) doesn’t show on all branded searches.

      It is not clear exactly what criteria Google uses to show the panel but like most things Google there seems to be an algo that factors in trust, relevance to the query and prominence of the entity.

      Things that might make it appear more regularly:
      – getting more followers. I would suggest setting a goal of 100-200 over the next 6-12 months.
      – try to get some G+ followers with authority
      – Making sure that your location is listed in the relevant directories that Google looks to for validation and enhanced content
      – Increase the likelihood of your map listing appearing by including a Google map of your location on your site.

  19. I have 2 Google+ accounts for my company. I put one together a year or two ago. Then, I asked someone to get it verified. But, what they did was created an entirely new google plus page for my business. I would rather merge these into the business one. Is there a way to do this?

    Also, I own a cleaning company where we have ONE physical location, but the customers never come here. We service about 10 zip code areas. I notice the franchise competition get to have all their locations set up as local and maps etc, but, the “small business, non franchise owner” can not. This seems a bit unfair.

    Thank you,

    • @Shawn
      Each location can have one verified local page and as many brand pages as they want. There are some limited options to get one a brand page converted to a local page if they are in the same account. Local pages can’t really be deleted but Brand pages can be. So long story short can’t advise you without knowing what kind of pages they are.

      Franchises are constrained by the same rules as independents- one listing per location. If they have more locations then they are eligible for more.

      It is difficult to be seen outside of your immediate area though. In that case the only options are Adwords and organic optimization.

  20. Google is showing only one verification method to me (i.e. via mail), not the alternate one – phone call. Why is it so? Any idea?

    • @Rajeev
      Google has more trust in verification that has occurred by post card. While it is slower and less reliable for the business, if Google doesn’t have complete confidence that a location exists they will only show the post card option and not the phone or ams option.

  21. This may seem off the subject but can’t find a solution anywhere else. There is a company that is using our physical address as their own, and we can’t figure out who to report this to? We are getting their mail as well. Every search on google lists our address as theirs, which is totally incorrect. Help?

  22. Yes. We are Artist and Craftsman Supply. We have 23 locations across the country (I am the e-commerce manager in Portland, Maine). Our Los Angeles store (one of two), is located at 1660 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles 90035 There is a company called Quaker Garage Door Repair that is listing our address as their own and it is coming up on every search engine. Our LA store is also receiving their physical mail as well. We have tried calling them and never get a response. Advice? Thanks…

  23. http://www.artistcraftsman.com Their company does not appear to have a website.

  24. Susan, Use Google’s call back support feature to get help with this.
    Go to this url https://support.google.com/business/?hl=en#topic=4539639 and click on the contact us link at the top right.

  25. About three or four months ago, I added my business to Google. It worked great! When someone googled a taxi near warrenton mo, it would show the list of taxis in that area. Now when this is googled, it no longer pops up. I verified like I said a few months ago. Why is it doing this? I have customers complaining that they cannot find me. I am a taxi company so this is the most common way to locate me.

    • John, We are currently in the midst of a major update in local search and one of the things being effected is whether Google shows a “pack” of local results or not, which is what I think you are describing. Some packs have disappeared and reappeared over the past few days. When I searched for taxi just a few minutes ago (with my location set to Warrenton MO in a browser unaffected by personalization) I saw a pack that included 4 local results. Whether this continues or not is anyone guess. I’d give this update another week or so to see what happens.

    • @John
      It could be anyone of the following:
      1- A penalty
      2- A change in Google’s algo
      3- Duplicate listings
      4- NAP confusion
      5- lack of brand or web prominence

  26. How do you handle a situation where you have two businesses at the same address?

    • First, they need to actually be separate businesses with unique business names and local phone numbers and different people answering the phones using their unique business names. Don’t try to make 2 parts of the same business appear as different businesses, such as a wholesale division and a retail division or a service department and a parts department.

      Then, try to differentiate the address is some way with a suite number or something similar and test the addresses by snail mailing something to each of them, as you must be able to receive a postcard from Google in most situations.

      It also helps if they are not in the same Google categories as each other.

  27. I am opening a second office location for my business (McGrory Orthodontics), but I’m not certain how I can set up a separate google places listing for my new location. The physical addresses will be separate, but I want the businesses to share my current website and my current business phone number. Any suggestions on how to approach this? Thanks!

  28. Each location should have its own local phone number. You can create a second location from within your dashboard. Create a unique page on your site about your second location and point the new listing to that page.

  29. Mary – fantastic article. Thank you so much for the time and effort that you’ve put into this, including updates. I have a situation that I hope will add to the discussion, and I’d love to hear your input.

    We have two brands operating under the same roof. One is a digital marketing (websites, online ads, social media), and the other is a print shop. We run them together, because there is a lot of overlap with customers, but each has its own phone number and website. It should be noted, though, that the print shop website is printbrand.digitalbrand.com while the marketing company is digitalbrand.com. This came about because of problems getting the printbrand.com or printbrand.net domain, and we market the print brand as having a technology edge. Both brands cross-link to each other.

    I’d like to get separate Google+ local listings. Customers looking for a digital marketer wouldn’t go to a printer and vice-versa. I feel like there’s good intent here (improving clarity for users vs. just trying to be sneaky and get more listings), but I’m petrified of getting on Google’s naughty list. Any perspective on how this might be viewed? Would having a printbrand.biz domain for the printer help? I suspect separate physical addresses would solve the problem completely. Any perspective would be appreciated.

    • Google probably looks at your situation as the printing being a dept of your main business since it’s on the same site and shares your address, so it may be difficult to get a second listing approved. If you don’t want people to think you’re a duck, you have to stop looking, walking and talking like a duck.

      I don’t really think .biz domains are the way to go. Try to find a .com that makes sense for you, instead.

      There are compromises to be made and you just need to decide which ones are worth it to your business.

  30. Hi Mary

    I run my business from a home office/ workshop setup which has a pin pointed listing at my home address on G maps for customers to visit.

    I’ve just bought a commercial property at another address in the city that I’m about to staff and serve customers from also.

    I want to create a new listing for the new address as well as keep the old one, how do I go about this the right way?

    Both listings will share the same name, website, email, phone number etc.

    • 1.Submit your new location to the data providers via Moz Local 6-8 weeks before the opening the new location. (Submit your current location, too, if you haven’t done so already.)

      2. Get a second local phone number, preferably a land line, for the new location and forward it to your current number until you open. Make sure the phone company associates it with your new address in their records.

      3. Make sure your website reflects the addition of your new location. The NAP (name, address, phone) for both of your locations should be encoded in schema on the site, so that they are clearly identified as separate locations. Having a separate page on your site for each location will also help.

      4. Create a second listing in your Google My Business dashboard for your new location about 2 weeks before opening and get it verified.

      • Thank you Mary :)

        I’m in Australia so I don’t think the Moz part will work for me but the rest makes sense.

        I planned to have a new mobile phone number for the second address rather than a land line (my first already listed address also has been verified no problem with a mobile phone number) do you think that could cause a problem?

        Should I just make a second website altogether for the new address rather than just listing the address on the existing website on a new page?

        Should I create the second listing under the same G+ user account (my personal account) as I have the first listing or should I create a new account?

        • You gain some advantage by using a land line registered in the name of your business. Whether you wish to take that advantage or not is up to you.

          Use one website for both locations.

          Use one Google account for both listings.

  31. Hi,
    My company is called Bit Canny Technologies Pvt Ltd.
    I have created a gplus profile and verified my business address.
    I think I have fulfilled all the above criteria.
    When I search my company name, it never shows the local marker and a map- I wonder why?
    It shows up for similar businesses in the very same location.

    • @Luv
      The knowledge panel as it is known (the panel that shows to the right) does not show for all businesses.
      1-You need to have been in business and in Google for about 6 months
      2-Your website needs to have some inbound links
      3-Your business needs a good citation profile
      If you have done that and it still is not showing then I would recommend that you get at least 100 followers on G+

  32. I have been working with an Australian recruitment company and I had their G+ page showing as #3 in the top 7 for their main kw+city.

    Recently, it has completely dropped from the listings (to about #31) after an ex employee was in charge of the Google+ page. At one point, when you clicked from the listing to the Google+ page, you were sent to a “backup of the G+ page”.

    The company has offices in 2 different cities and has separate map listings (completely different office addresses & phone numbers) but want to just have one brand Google+ page.

    Do you have any ideas how we can have these extra pages deleted and if this would be the reason that the listing has been dropped from the top 7? (BTW, their website has an organic rank on the local listings page of 2).

    They have a lot of first page rankings for major keywords and there are no issues in Google. I have noticed that their website was showing the address as Level 20, 2 George Street Sydney NSW 2000 (not real address) but on Google maps it is showing as 20/2 George St Sydney NSW 2000.

    I know that addresses and all citations need to be exactly the same. Is it possible that this could have dropped their rank?

    Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted. I am going to try to change their citations & website contact details to exactly the same as the Google result (Google won’t display address as Level 20, 2 / only 20/2 ). This is the only thing I can come up with.

    I can’t see how they are breaking any of Google’s rules. The extra pages have been regularly reported but can’t be deleted as they are not under the same gmail address.

    Thanks for any help.

    • Tess, considering how much turmoil has been going on in the Local SERPs over the past 5 weeks or so, there’s no telling what the problem may be. It may simple be a result of the ranking algorithms changing.

      Aligning your citations is a good thing to do, in any case. Gaining more good links and otherwise improving the organic optimization of the site to move it onto page one of the results is also a worthwhile effort.

      I’d delete any pages that you don’t want (they can now be recovered, if you change your mind). You can do that from within the Google account that holds them.

  33. hi,
    my pizzeria used to be listed 3rd or 4th on the search as “pizzeria rennes”(rennes is the town where the pizzeria is)
    as from last week i am not anymore listed in pizzeria rennes not even the last one although i am still on the map under italien restaurant but not anymore under pizzeria
    many thanks in advance

  34. I set up a google + profile and verified my business about 5 days ago but it still has not appeared on the local listing. I noted today my listing was still 90% complete as it needed another picture. Could that be the reason why it has not appeared yet. I updated the listing and its now 100%.

    • Newton, After a listing is claimed and verified, it must still go through a review process and be approved before it can appear live. Give it a couple of weeks.

    • @Newton
      To add what to what Mary said, having 90% or 100% will not affect the time it takes for the Google system to catch up and show your listing. How are you searching for the listing now?

  35. I have submitted a location request on two occasions now and our club still does not show up on google maps.

    Is there any particular reason for this.

    I see many other local football clubs show up on the map.

  36. Hi Mary,

    Thanks so much for sharing your expertise on local SEO. I hope you could lend an ear to my dilemma.

    I have a bed and breakfast account and it has a restaurant that I’m also helping to rank. Both have the same address, phone number, and website — except the restaurant is found in the internal page.

    My question is: Would it help the situation if I created a new G+ listing for the restaurant? What would you recommend I should do to help the restaurant rank better?

    Thank you!

    • Andrea, In the same account you now use for your Google listing, you can add another one for your restaurant OR you could add the restaurant category to your existing listing. If you add a second listing, the link should point to a page on your website with information about the restaurant. Getting a separate local number for your restaurant can help to convince Google that these are indeed 2 separate businesses.

  37. Hi Mary – Help. I’m a Pilates teacher, working out of several locations (church halls and the like) I’m not very tekkie but have managed to set up a google plus business page for one church hall, which is verified and appearing on the search results (hooray). I would like to set up my other locations. The only way I can see to do this is to use a different email account and set up the other locations as separate businesses. Is this correct? Trying to get it verified but no postcard now for 7 weeks??? If there is an easier way to do this, could you please let me know. I need listings for at least 4 locations and it seems really longwinded if I have to have new accounts per location. p.s. Please treat your answer as if talking to a complete tekkie novice (which I am). Thanks very much x

    • Sorry to say that it is against google’s guidelines to do what you are trying to do:
      “You also can’t add a local page 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 the page for their business within their Introduction field.”


  38. Hi Karen,
    Unfortunately, your situation falls into the category of Ineligible Business Models for a Google business listing. Here’s the specific guideline from https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en&ref_topic=4540086 (bolding mine):
    “You also can’t add a local page 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 the page for their business within their Introduction field.”
    You need to put your efforts into ranking organically, instead.

  39. i started a google local listing for my wives cleaning business. however it has been flagged as spam. i assume this is because the same address is listed as my dent repair business. how do i get two totally unrelated businesses listed with our house address?

    • Jason, Distinct business names and business phone numbers will help. And make sure you are following all of the guidelines.

  40. thank you. hopefully the distinct phone number will help.

  41. Thanks for the answers guys. SEO is always ongoing for organic listings but as my competitors seem to have been able to list each location to come up on searches, it is very frustrating not to be able to do so also. If I class my business as ‘serving customers at their locations’ within say a 15 mile service area of my house, how is this portrayed by google maps in any local search. Thanks again.

  42. Hello Mary, thank you for such a descriptive article. It helped!
    We have a physical office for our real estate firm, have been verified for our business listing, but I had a couple of questions about setting up Google+ Business.
    I am creating a page on Google+ Business and our website is still under construction with our web developers. Is it okay to link the website at this point or do I need to wait for the website to be complete? Also, do we need to verify the website in order to share our Google+ Business page?
    Thank you

    • @Idania
      Google doesn’t like URLs that redirect or that don’t resolve. If there is a page there then you can use it, otherwise you should wait until it is live. The Local page can be verified in a number of ways; phone, post card and website verification. Because the website is new it is likely that Google will only allow you to verify by post card. As such it is not necessary to verify the website although it doesn’t hurt.

  43. I just checked my business name out, and it seems that there are people using my name but linking it to cheap sites?? How do I stop this?

    • Sheri if you have a trademark or a business name that is legally registered in some way, you may have some recourse, but you’ll need to contact a lawyer with expertise in this area for legal advice.

  44. Mary I hope you can help (also u don’t have check box, so one is auto notified of followup?) Ok home based business that goes to clients location, that did everything right, but checked to hide home address.

    Now AND THIS IS SO SILLY the Google verification card’s address only shows, city, state and zip (which is what I want for actual listing) But of course I never get card as it’s not got street address ! So my busns remains unverified. Any ideas? I don’t see how to change “mailing address” so the stupid card can arrive.

  45. A law firm has personal Google+ pages for each of their 4 attorneys, and 1 Google+ business page.

    When a Google search is performed for the name of the law firm, one of the partners personal Google+ page comes up! What would cause this as we’ve followed all of the guidelines. Thank you.

    • @Mary
      It means that Google perceives that listing as more prominent than the others. It could be, for example, that the lawyer has appeared before the Supreme Court and has a killer citation from a very high value source. Hard to say though at a distance.

  46. What do I do if we have our Cosmetic Surgery center verified with one website geared towards certain services, but we have another individual listing that already appears on google places,map, etc for the doctor in the clinic, but it’s not verified YET.
    Is it ok to do use a new domain & do a website in that listing focused on totally different client/service using a different number . It’s in the same building??
    Just don’t want to mess up all the progress we’ve made on the current site:)

    • @John
      You are permitted one listing per practice and practioner. And you can use whatever URL you want for each of those (assuming that they are not selling illegal or stuff to underage minors)

      • Naw … No Breaking Bad here Mr. Mike….)
        Nothin but good folk here in Alabama . ..

        I really do appreciate your response . Just to make sure I understand, I can have the practice with a different domain and website … And, the only practitioner in that same building/address with a Different domain and website? I don’t think it would hurt to use a different land line number of theirs that a in office employee answers.
        One last thing that I’m stumped on with google:
        If you have an office in Birmingham that’s registered and a new opening 30 miles or so away , can you use the same phone number & domain for that google places listing that we use in the Birmingham . It’s still local calling..

  47. I forget to check “goods and services to my customers location” box. W
    How do I correct this.

  48. Mike & Mary

    I used the “call me” button on a practitioner verification just to get it straight from the horses mouth. The rep at first ensured me you couldn’t do it if it was the same phone and address as the company’s business page. She put me on hold several times to “check on it” and whilst that was going on I dug a little deeper and actually found this particular practitioner had an unclaimed listing showing up (same address and phone too). After a little more “check on it” time she came back on and said” “Bad News. No one is able to verify ANY listings right now due to a technical issue.”

    A) Do either of you know anything about an issue like this?
    B) Is it safe to claim the practitioner’s listing and optimize it properly or am I playing with fire?

    Thanks for all the info you so freely provide to the community! It’s greatly appreciated.


    • @Terry

      You don’t specify whether it is a single or multple practitioner practice. If it is a single practitioner practice then Google does in fact require that you only have one listing.

      If there is one, then I think that having just one listing is best. You should contact Google and have them merge the two and think of naming the page Practice: Practitioner.

      I too have not heard of problems but its a dynamic world.

  49. TC, I am unaware of any glitches preventing everyone from verifying at the moment. I would try checking the Google My Business help forum for sticky posts from the Google staff regarding this and/or search the forum to see if others are having the same problem you are having.

  50. Hi Mike, Can you please help I have two questions.

    1st) I notice many business on Google places that do not have addresses and are still showing up in google places. I also notice many other companies are showing at the top of google places in many cities, in which they do not have a business address per those cities.

    2nd) We are a service company that service many cities. Our main city we service is Carmel Indiana, which we have done well with the google places ranking at the top almost every time. Our Concern is that we are having to relocate our shop to the adjacent city of Zionsville Indiana and we are afraid we are going to lose our Google places ranking for people searching in Carmel Can you advise us how to maintain a high ranking for our original place of business where most of our customers are? .

    Thank You

    David H.

  51. Per November 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm posting. For the first paragraph , I accidentally did not copy and past my questions. Here they are.

    1) How can I make my business show up without an address
    2) How can I make my business show up in many locations.

  52. David, I think if you read through this article and the comments made by others, you will get the answers to your questions.

  53. Hi David,
    You are entitled to one Google listing for each legitimate business location that you have. Trying to fudge locations will only get you into trouble in the long run, so it is wise to try to follow the guidelines rather than look for loopholes.

    I think if you read through this article and the comments made by others, you will find answers to your questions.

  54. Years ago I used my personal email (Google account) to create the Google Places listing for my business. Later I opened a Google+ page for the company using the company’s email (Google account). The problem is that the Google+ page I use and update is completely different than the one that is listed through Google Places.

    I want to change the account from where I control the Google places listing to the business one but I don’t want to loose the reviews that are already in place and, most important, I am very scared of disappearing from Google places all together if I touch something :-(. I remember it took a while just to get there.

    I found this method but the post is quite old (2010). Is it still valid? http://places.blumenthals.com/thread6f3b.html

    Thanks in advance :-)

  55. Hopefully you can answer this.
    I have a client who is showing up #1 in google for credit repair chicago but the places listing on the right is for his competitor that is showing in the #2 spot.

    We have confirmed his https site in webmasters (although we just got it indexed since no one told webmasters they moved from an http site). The site has been indexed and they are a verified local business and the g+ page has the proper web address and the rel publisher tag has been inserted.
    Any other reason why this business isn’t showing up on the right while in the first position.
    Also, they have 60 g+ reviews where the competitor has 1.

  56. Hi Mary

    Is setting up a Google Business account likely to improve the ranking of business listings?

    Apologies if you have already covered this is the article, but I couldn’t see any reference to this….

    although potentially buggy, if it might influence ranking, then perhaps it’s worth jumping on the band wagon now?


  57. @David Any actual physical business location is entitled to a Google business listing whether it is a home based business or not.

    The searcher, the query and the algorithm determine which businesses Google shows in the results. If those factors make your home-based business is the best “answer” for the searcher’s needs, Google will show your business in the results.

  58. Hi,

    I am working with a business that has 2 websites. I know that I should only link to one from the Google Local listing, but is it ok to link to the same Google local listing from each website?



    • @matt
      There is no reason that you can’t link to your G+ Local page from any place you wish. From a marketing viewpoint, the question is does it provide value to your web visitors? If the answer is yes then go ahead.

      • Just noticed that they have 2 Google + pages setup. One for each website, but the phone numbers are the same. Both listings are verified. I assume I should just go with one listing?

        They are an insurance agency. One website is geared towards personal lines and the other towards professionals. The sites are branded under different names, but as I stated, they operate out of the same office and use the same phone number.

        Their personal website is really the “parent” business, so that is the one I planned on promoting/building citations to.

        Is that a good plan?

  59. From my post on December 4th. I was just wondering if you could give me some guidance or direction on where I might be able to find the answer.

    I have a client who is showing up #1 in google for credit repair chicago but the places listing on the right is for his competitor that is showing in the #2 spot.

    We have confirmed his https site in webmasters (although we just got it indexed since no one told webmasters they moved from an http site). The site has been indexed and they are a verified local business and the g+ page has the proper web address and the rel publisher tag has been inserted.
    Any other reason why this business isn’t showing up on the right while in the first position.
    Also, they have 60 g+ reviews where the competitor has 1.

    Thanks in advance.

  60. Nice article Mary!
    A client has asked us to delete his Google Places listing completely. Do you know if this is done by removing the Google+ account, or can the Places listing be removed separately?

    Can’t seem to find ‘the new’ method of doing this (I’ve done it before when Places listings were separate to G+)


  61. It would be amazing if you could offer me some advice. I’m confused as to what specifically I need to create to make sure my local business is listed in all the appropriate places on Google. My more important question pertains to verifying though. My business is in the country of Panama. Receiving a postcard is completely out of the question as there is no real mail service there. When I first created the listing it gave me the option of phone verifying, but I didn’t have a number at the time. Now that we are open for business, it is not giving me the option to phone verify. Any help would be truly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Darryl
      If you are having country specific issues with verification you should contact Google MyBusiness support. They will assist with verification

  62. David,

    1.You can make your business show up without an address by indicating that you do not meet with customers at your location in the address section while editing your listing.
    2. The best strategy for getting your business to show up in the search results for many locations is to actually have many business locations. The Google local algorithms are strongly based on a business’ proximity to the searcher’s location. In the local search results, businesses closer to the searcher will always have a natural advantage over those further away. If it’s important to your business to appear in the results to searchers within a particular area, then consider opening a location in that area.

  63. Mary thanks for your help.

    Can you give me more clarification on the multiple address guidelines.

    If I list other business locations, can I use home address verified by Google.

    Also, will the home addresses allow us to show up per the city where the home address is verified by Google?


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