Updated (Jan 2015) Rules for Google+Local for Business Listings

Latest Revision January 2015

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I suspect that there are unpublished guidelines, too, that are not visible to us.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 December 2014, with my comments  in blue. 

In late 2014, Google made some major updates to its business listing guidelines, including adding specific rules for multi-location businesses. 

Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google

We've come up with a list of guidelines for local businesses to maintain high quality information on Google. Following these guidelines helps avoid common problems, including changes to your information, or, in some cases, removal of your business information from Google.

For best results using Google My Business:

  • Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding.
  • Make sure your address is accurate and precise.
  • Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.

Note: Brands, organizations, artists and other online-only businesses should create a brand page instead of a local page. Brand pages follow the Google+ page content guidelines. Learn more about the difference between brand and local pages

Basic guidelines

Eligible businesses

In order to qualify for a local Google+ page, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.

Exception: ATMs, video-rental kiosks, and express mail dropboxes are permitted. If you add these locations, you must include contact information for customers to get help.

Ineligible businesses

The following businesses aren’t eligible for a local page:

  • Businesses that are under construction or that have not yet opened to the public.
  • Rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.
  • 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.

Note: Not all businesses are eligible for a Google local business listing and 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.

Ownership

Only business owners or authorized representatives may verify and manage their business information on Google My Business. If you wish to share access to your local page with others, you can do so by adding a manager.

Note: The 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. 

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.

Note: You should always own your own listings and provide access to others, as needed. Do not allow others to own your business listing(s).

 Business Information

 Name

Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.

Any additional information, when relevant, can be included in other sections of your business information (e.g., "Address", "Categories"). Adding unnecessary information to your name (e.g., "Google Inc. - Mountain View Corporate Headquarters" instead of "Google") by including marketing taglines, store codes, special characters, hours or closed/open status, phone numbers, website URLs, service/product information, location/address or directions, or containment information (e.g. "Chase ATM in Duane Reade") is not permitted.

Throughout the examples below, names or parts of names in italics would not be permitted.

Your name must not include:

  • Marketing taglines.
    • Not acceptable: "TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank", "GNC Live Well*".
    • Acceptable: "TD Bank", "GNC"
  • Store codes.
    • Not acceptable: "The UPS Store - 2872"
    • Acceptable: "The UPS Store"
  • Trademark/registered signs.
    • Not acceptable: "Burger King®"
    • Acceptable: "Burger King"
  • Fully capitalized words (with the exception of acronyms) or unnecessary spaces.
    • Not acceptable: "SUBWAY"
    • Acceptable: "Subway", "KFC", "IHOP", "JCPenney"
  • Business hours information, including closed/open status.
    • Not acceptable: "Regal Pizzeria Open 24 hours", "Sears Outlet (Closed)"
    • Acceptable: "Regal Pizzeria", "Sears Outlet"
  • Phone numbers or website URLs, unless they reflect your business’s consistently used and recognized real world representation.
    • Not acceptable: "Airport Direct 1-888-557-8953", "webuyanycar.com"
    • Acceptable: "Airport Direct", "1-800-Got-Junk"
  • Special characters (e.g. %&$@/") or irrelevant legal terms unless they are part of your business’s real world representation
    • Not Acceptable: "Shell Pay@Pump", "Re/Max, LLC", "LAZ Parking Ltd"
    • Acceptable: "Shell", "Re/Max", "LAZ Parking", "Toys ’’R’’ Us", "H&M", "T.J.Maxx"
  • Service or product information about your business, unless this information is part of its real world representation or this information is needed to identify a department within a business (see "Departments"). Service information is best represented by categories (see "Categories").
    • Not acceptable: "Verizon Wireless 4G LTE", "Safeway Supermarket Food & Drug", "Midas Auto Service Experts"
    • Acceptable: "Verizon Wireless", "Safeway", "Midas", "Best Buy Mobile", "Advance Auto Parts", "JCPenney Portrait Studios"
  • Location information, such as neighborhood, city, or street name, unless it is part of the real-world representation of the business. Your name must not include street address or direction information.
    • Not acceptable: "Starbucks Downtown", "Macy’s Union Square", "Holiday Inn (I-93 at Exit 2)", "U.S. Bank ATM - 7th & Pike - Parking Garage Lobby near Elevator"
    • Acceptable: "Starbucks", "Macy’s", "Holiday Inn Salem", "U.S. Bank ATM", "University of California Berkeley"
  • Containment information indicating that your business is located inside another business (whether or not the businesses are part of the same organization).
    • Not acceptable: "Chase ATM (in Duane Reade)", "Apple Store at Stanford Shopping Center", "Benefit Brow Bar - Bloomingdales", "Sam’s Club Tire & Battery (part of Sam’s Club)", "Geek Squad (inside Best Buy)"
    • Acceptable: "Chase ATM", "Apple Store", "Benefit Brow Bar", "Sam’s Club Tire & Battery", "Geek Squad"

There are additional guidelines for multi-location stores (chains and brands), departments, and individual practitioners(e.g. doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents) below.

Note: In February 2014, Google announced that it would allow the addition of a "descriptor" to the business name in Google listings. As of Dec 2014, this has been rescinded and only the real world business name is permitted for use, again.

Address

Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location. PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.

  • Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location.
    • Use the precise address for the business rather than broad city names or cross-streets. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations.
    • If you need to specify a mailbox or suite number within your physical location, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your mailbox or suite number in Address Line 2.
    • If your business rents a temporary, "virtual" office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours.

Note: Over the years some businesses have tried to fool Google into believing that they have office, store or shop locations where they do not. Google often checks up on these and suspends them if they are not staffed during the hours they state as being opened in the listing.

  • Do not include information in address lines that does not pertain to your business’s physical location (e.g. URLs or keywords).
  • Do not create more than one page for each location of your business, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
    • Individual practitioners and departments within businesses, universities, hospitals, and government buildings may have separate pages. See specific guidelines about individual practitioners and departments for more information.

Service-area businesses

Service-area businesses--business that serve customers at their locations--should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point. 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 business information as well as information from other sources. Learn more about service-area businesses.

Note: If you work on location, but also have a place where your customers come to see you, you may choose to either show your business address or to hide it. If you ONLY work on location and your customers do NOT come to your place of business, Google will hide your address for you.

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 central, call center helpline 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, including pages created on social media sites.

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

Categories help your customers find accurate, specific results for services they’re interested in. In order to keep your business information accurate and live, make sure that you:

  • Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.
  • Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.
    • Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
    • Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business

Select categories that complete the statement: "This business IS a" rather than "this business HAS a ." The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services it offers, products it sells, or amenities it features.

You should focus primarily on adding the most specific categories for your business; we'll do the rest behind the scenes. For instance, when you select a specific category like "Golf Resort", Google implicitly includes more general categories like "Resort Hotel", "Hotel", and "Golf Course." Feel free to skip adding any category that seems redundant with a more specific category you selected. If you can't find a category for your business, choose one that is more general. Google can also detect category information from your website and from mentions about your business throughout the web.

For example:

  • "Papa John’s" offers pizza takeout and delivery but does not offer on-premises dining. It should use the category "Pizza Delivery" and additional category "Pizza Takeout" (instead of the less specific "Delivery Restaurant" or "Takeout The following types of co-located businesses should each have their own page. If you need to use both categories for the same business location, create two pages instead. Be sure to use a different name for the second business (also see "Departments").
    • A Restaurant/Cafe/Bar inside of a Hotel/Motel
    • A Pharmacy inside of a Supermarket/Grocery Store
    • A Gas Station next to a Supermarket/Grocery Store

Note: This guideline can be pretty darn confusing, but if you only select categories that clearly describe what your business actually is, you should be fine. 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.

 

Chains, departments, and individual practitioners

Chains and brands

Maintaining consistent names and categories across all of your business locations helps users quickly identify your business on Google Maps and search results.

All locations must have the same name unless the business’s real world representation consistently varies from location to location. All locations must also have the same category if they provide the same service.

Name consistency

All business locations within the same country must have the same name for all locations. For example, all Home Depot locations should use the name "The Home Depot" rather than "Home Depot" or "The Home Depot at Springfield".

There are two exceptions to this policy:

  1. If you have multiple types of business--sub-brands, multiple departments, or various types of operations such as retail and wholesale--these distinct entities may also have a distinct name so long as it is consistently applied to all locations of that business.
    • Acceptable name variations: "Walmart Supercenter" and "Walmart Express"; "Nordstrom" and "Nordstrom Rack"; "Gap" and "babyGap"
  2. If some of your locations consistently use a different name in the real world - on their storefront, website, stationery etc. - these locations can use this different name.
    • Acceptable name variations: "Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco" and "Intercontinental New York Barclay"; "PFK" (for locations in Quebec) and "KFC" (for locations in the US and rest of Canada)

Category consistency

All locations of a business must share the one category that best represents the business. If you have multiple types of locations (e.g. sub-brands, multiple departments, or various types of operations such as retail, distribution center, and office), this rule only applies within each of these sub-groups.

  • All "Gap Kids" have the category "Children’s Clothing Store"
  • All "Goodyear Auto Service Center" have the category "Tire Shop"; they also all have the category "Auto Repair Shop"
  • All "PetSmart" have the category "Pet Supply Store"; some locations may have other categories ("Pet Store", "Dog Day Care Center")

Two or more brands at the same location

If your business location combines two or more brands, do not combine the brand names into a single page. Instead, pick one brand’s name for the page. If the brands operate independently, you may use a separate page for each brand at this location.

  • Not Acceptable: "KFC / Taco Bell" or "Dunkin' Donuts / Baskin Robbins"
  • Acceptable: "Taco Bell", "KFC", "Dunkin’ Donuts", "Baskin Robbins"

If your business sells another business brand’s product(s) or service(s), use only the name of the business, excluding the name of the brand being sold, which cannot have a page for this location.

  • Not Acceptable: "Staples / UPS", "America’s Tire / Firestone"
  • Acceptable: "Staples", "America’s Tire"

However, if the business location is an authorized and fully dedicated seller of the branded product or service (sometimes known as a "franchisee"), you may use the underlying brand name when creating the page.

  • Acceptable: "TCC Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer", "U-Haul Neighborhood Dealer"

Note: Google appears to have modified its guidelines to satisfy some of the exceptions sometimes needed by big brands. Don't try to interpret these rules to apply to single-location, single brand businesses to try to get more listings.

Departments within other business, universities, or institutions

Departments within businesses, universities, hospitals, and government institutions may have their own pages on Google.

Publicly-facing departments that operate as distinct entities should have their own page. The exact name of each department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments. Typically such departments have a separate customer entrance and should each have distinct categories. Their hours may sometimes differ from those of the main business.

  • Acceptable (as distinct pages):
    • "Walmart Vision Center"
    • "Sears Auto Center"
    • "Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Dermatology"
  • Not acceptable (as distinct pages):
    • The Apple products section of Best Buy
    • The hot food bar inside Whole Foods Market

For each department, the category that is the most representative of that department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments.

  • The main business "Wells Fargo" has the category "Bank" whereas the department "Wells Fargo Advisors" has the category "Financial Consultant"
  • The main business "South Bay Toyota" has the category "Toyota Dealer" whereas the "South Bay Toyota Service & Parts" has the category "Auto Repair Shop" (plus the category "Auto Parts Store")
  • The main business "GetGo" has the category "Convenience Store" (plus the category "Sandwich Shop") whereas the department "GetGo Fuel" has the category "Gas Station", and the department "WetGo" has the category "Car Wash"

Note: 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.

Individual practitioners (e.g. doctors, lawyers, real estate agents)

An individual practitioner is a public facing professional, typically with his or her own customer base. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners, and insurance or real estate agents all are individual practitioners. Pages for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).An individual practitioner should create his or her own dedicated page if:

  • He or she operates in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own page.
  • He or she is directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours.

A practitioner should not have multiple pages to cover all of his or her specializations.

Multiple practitioners at one location

If the practitioner is one of several public facing practitioners at this location:

  • The organization should create a page for this location, separate from that of the practitioner.
  • The page for the practitioner should be titled with name of the practitioner only, excluding that of the organization.

Solo practitioners belonging to branded organizations

If a practitioner is the sole public-facing one at this location and represents a branded organization, the practitioner page should not be separate from the organization’s page. Instead, create a single page, titled using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].

  • Acceptable: "Allstate: Joe Miller" (if Joe is the sole public-facing practitioner at this Allstate-branded location)

Note: 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. Some businesses want to eliminate existing practitioner listings because they compete with the business listing and/or the listings of other practitioners. However, if Google finds info about them elsewhere, it will recreate the listings. Other businesses try to create as many practitioner listings as they can , thinking they can get more listings ranking in the local packs, which is difficult to manage and often backfires.

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.

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.

Note: 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 the 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+.

 

service areas in Google local

Designating a service area for your Google Local business listing

More on Service Area Businesses

Although it is not published within the guidelines, Google has a 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.

Note: 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.

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

 

156 Responses to “Updated (Jan 2015) 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.

  6. Keep Customers Happy: Your clients keep your SEO startup alive.
    The SEO companies charge more for a new website as it takes
    a lot of effort on their part to get a new site to the top of search engine rankings.
    Check out the company’s credentials before deciding to work with them.

  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

    @Joe
    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

      @Keith
      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

          Keith
          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?

      thanks.

  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

    • @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
    COULD BE ANY REASON FOR THAT?
    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.”

      See:https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en

  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?
    Thanks

    • 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.

    TC

    • @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.
    Thanks!

  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?

    Thanks
    Sunil

  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?

    Thanks,

    Matt

    • @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+)

    Thanks!

  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. Hi!
    Today all online marketer to expect their website to list organic results with business addresses. OK..shared nice information.

    Thank You!

  63. I’ve been corresponding with Mary about Google’s most recent update to their guidelines regarding individual practitioners. Here’s some information she invited me to share based on a conversation I had this morning with a Google My Business representative.

    The representative told me that:
    • Solo practitioners should have only 1 office location page that uses the new [brand/company]: [practitioner name] format. My client already has a PIN Verified practitioner page too, so I am told that practitioner page will need to be merged with the office location page so his practitioner page will no longer appear in Google Maps. Since the practitioner page is PIN verified, they will first need to call my client to release his page and proceed. To pull this procedure off, the rep made a note in the client’s record that I will first call my client to give him a heads-up about Google calling to get his authorization to proceed, and then I am to call Google back at a time when a Google rep can speak with my client at his office number.
    • Regarding citation/NAP consistency concerns, I was told that any outside sources of office information, or practitioner information, that Google receives will be merged with the my client’s location listing. Google expects their [brand/company]: [practitioner name] information will also be picked up by other services to help them better match with Google’s information. I told the rep that in my experience many services tend to create duplicate listings from any mismatching piece of information rather than merge the information, but it will be up to me to contact those other services to keep suppressing any duplicates. For example, IRS, Secretary of State and phone company records aren’t going to have business name information that matches Google’s solo practitioner name format. I admit I’m skeptical about whether this will work as Google’s representative described it, but we shall see.
    • If my solo practitioner picks up a partner, I will need to reformat the location page title to display just the business name and then create practitioner pages for each practitioner according to the guidelines for “multiple practitioners at one location”.
    • Google is OK with using the main office number for any practitioners pages. It doesn’t matter if a receptionist answers the phone at that number as long as the practitioner can be reached at that number during the posted office hours. That is “directly contactable” enough for Google. That said, a redirecting number like Google Voice, or office phone number extension would also be acceptable for those practitioners’ pages too.

  64. Hello Mary – really great, informative article.

    My client has 2 brick and mortar locations within Florida and 2 verified Google+ pages – 1 for each location. However, searching the keywords Squeeze + Juice + Works + Tampa brings up the the St. Petersburg location instead of the Tampa location in the organic Google search results. (Bing and Yahoo bring up the correct map of each location with the same keywords.) Google My Business has been very helpful in helping me streamline our businesses Google+ pages to fix this issue (we had 4 pages) but the organic search problem persists. It’s close – if any word in the Tampa address (such as Boulevard) is added to the organic search, it will produce the correct result – Tampa. But with just the location word Tampa, it won’t and that’s a problem. It might just need a little more time – I just deleted the extra Google+ page the last few days. Thoughts?

    • Jim, After making changes I would wait a week or two to see what happens. BTW,the St Petersburg listing points to the home page of the site while the Tampa listing points to the tampa page on the site. This may be sending a strong signal to Google that the St Petersburg location is more important to the business than the Tampa location. Just a thought…

      If that doesn’t correct it, consider working on the SEO and Local SEO of the site to send clearer messages to Google about what the business does and where it is located. For example, more text on the home page, the complete NAP in schema, adding unique metadescriptions to your pages, etc.

      • Thank you Mary for the quick reply!

        Per your advice, I changed the linked-to URL for the St. Petersburg Google+ page to the website’s St. Petersburg page. I had read a 2010 Matt Cutts piece that recommended creating individual website pages for each location. https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/give-each-store-a-url/.

        Also, I’m going to add a little descriptive text to some of the website pages, including the home page and the Tampa and St. Petersburg pages.

        Then I’ll add meta descriptions to the pages.

        Then, I’ll add the schema data as soon as I figure out what schema is and how to do it.

        Then I will wait and search and wait. and search. and wait.

        Thank you for the great advice!

  65. Hi Mary – i recently verified my google plus page. When i searched for ‘it’s a knockout bristol’ my business listing appeared along with my google plus map location on the right hand side. Then after 48 hours it completely disbarred! Would you have any ideas as to how i could i could get this back? I do also have another out door business called all star action days registered at the same venue with another google plus page linked to allstaractiondays.com! Please please help! :-)

    • Hi James,
      You’re only entitled to one Google listing per business location and these look like they are the same business to me. They do the same thing, use the same phone number and appear to be in the same town. When I search for “it’s a knockout bristol” I see an AdWords ad with this headline: Its a Knockout Bristol – allstaractiondays.com‎ that links to allstaractiondays.com That’s a pretty clear indication that they are the same enterprise.

      You mention in your comment they are registered “at the same venue”. Unless your business controls that venue, you can’t use its address- only the venue owner can use it.
      Please read the current guidelines carefully, as you may be violating multiple requirements for a business listing on Google.

  66. Hello! Does each location page need to be associated with a different Google+ page? (Can they all share the same Google+ page? Would we even want that?) Thank you!

  67. We have a google + page however couple of weeks ago I have noticed that none of the businesses are appearing including ours. For eg. business telephone systems only has one company showing which is a monopoly whereas previously there were @ 8 – 10 business displayed on maps. Is this a google glitch of some kind and what can I do to bring it to Googkes attention?

    I will appreciate your advice and has anyone else experienced similar problems. we are based in London.

    • Alex

      Google recently released the Pigeon update in the UK. One characteristic of this upgrade has been to show fewer and smaller Pack results. I believe what you are experiencing is that.

    • @Alex, with Pigeon, you can expect to see fewer local packs in the results and many of the local packs shrinking from 7 to 3. When a local pack no longer appears, it becomes necessary to work to rank organically.

      • Hi Mary/Peter,

        Thank you for your response. Interesting to hear but I am surprised especially as I thought that this was the way google was moving towards. For my categories chosen they are not showing any businesses on maps!. In one category office telephone systems we used to be the only one showing but that is gone now!

        I used the feedback page to highlight the issue to google so hoping for an improvement.

        • @Alex, I think Google invented the local packs as a way to highlight local businesses in the SERPs when most of them had very little chance of competing in the organic rankings. But now, its algorithms have improved and we’re seeing more localized organic results and fewer and smaller local packs. Most of the people who are studying the impacts of Pigeon report that traffic stayed about the same after Pigeon took away some of the local packs, so I’d check your analytics and see if it really is causing you any problems or not.

  68. Using a home address is only acceptable if you meet with customers there during the hours that you list as being opened. Using mulitple home addresses is only acceptable if those are true locations for your business.

  69. Mary,
    I have read through the guidelines but I still can not figure out why the new crappy google algorithms now have caused issues on ALL of my local google+ businesses.
    My clients that have had 3 google+ pages for EACH business, yes they are separate businesses, for over 3 years. Recently some time in late November or December I went from over 1000+ impressions per day to 0. This is a real estate company that works under a broker BUT still owns their three businesses and yes the businesses are registered. I still cant understand why google decided that it would keep only one google+ page with a realtor that isn’t even a realtor anymore.
    This office is a cut throat business and I have noticed that many other realtors including the owner report businesses that are actually businesses just to get them off google because they are competition.
    It seems I had everything set up over a long period of time and correctly developed as per google standards and then all of a sudden they decided their old standards were not good anymore and they removed all my google+ pages.
    Seems like google is only here for the big guys, or I guess I should say they are only here for the money.
    FYI. Businesses were all verified but the one business was hacked and it took months to get it back. Is google killing all of the businesses because of that?
    Thanks
    Scott

    • @Scott, Since late July, Google has drastically changed the local algorithms and the business listing guidelines. We have also experienced both Penguin and Panda updates, which effect local pack and localized organic rankings. It is not possible to pinpoint which of these changes or which combinations of changes may be impacting your website/listings/rankings without a thorough audit of your website and local presence.

    • @Scott, You state that it’s a realtor with 3 separate businesses, but it sounds as if perhaps Google sees it differently. Google thinks distinct businesses should have unique names, local phone numbers and street addresses. When that is what we provide, confusion is minimal. When things are not quite so clear-cut, problems are not unusual.

  70. Hi Mary,

    Understand but I tried conducting searches using locations very close to our post code and including our post code and still nothing.

    • @Alex if the algorithm does not cause local packs to display in the SERPs for any particular terms, then that’s what you have to work with and you need to shift your focus to trying to rank organically.

  71. Hi- can someone help me? I tried calling Google many times but it keeps putting me on an hour hold so I just hang up. We have two local business pages linked to the same website and they are both verified.One page is titled name of practice and other is titled the doctor’s name. All of our reviews are linked to the one with the practice name. Both have decent amount of views but the one with the practice name has more view and has all the reviews. Should we just delete the page with the doctor name?

    Please note, the doctor has a google plus page also that is linked to his personal email.

    Thank you!

    • @sadia It depends on the situation how this should be handled. Here are the guidelines regarding this issue:

      Individual practitioners (e.g. doctors, lawyers, real estate agents)

      An individual practitioner is a public facing professional, typically with his or her own customer base. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners, and insurance or real estate agents all are individual practitioners. Pages for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).

      An individual practitioner should create his or her own dedicated page if:

      He or she operates in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own page.
      He or she is directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours.
      A practitioner should not have multiple pages to cover all of his or her specializations.

      Learn more
      Multiple practitioners at one location

      If the practitioner is one of several public facing practitioners at this location:

      The organization should create a page for this location, separate from that of the practitioner.
      The page for the practitioner should be titled with name of the practitioner only, excluding that of the organization.
      Solo practitioners belonging to branded organizations

      If a practitioner is the sole public-facing one at this location and represents a branded organization, the practitioner page should not be separate from the organization’s page. Instead, create a single page, titled using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].

      Acceptable: “Allstate: Joe Miller” (if Joe is the sole public-facing practitioner at this Allstate-branded location)

      • Thanks Mary! I did review these rules before and I guess I am just confused on the best course of action for us. Do we have any benefit from a seo perspective of having two local Google pages (one for the practice name and one with doctor name) or are we better of with just one page (with practice name- doctor name)? I would prefer to have all of our views on the same page. I am thinking if we get rid of the one with the doctor’s name, if/when people search, they will just go to the one page. Even if we kept two pages, we would post same content on both. Thank you for your time!

        • @Sadia, Under the recently updated guidelines, if you only have one doctor, you are only entitled to one listing that includes both the practice name and the doctor name in the business title. You are not given the choice of having 2 listings.

  72. Just an update from me as I thought it may be useful. After a 4 week absence our local business or google+ page is showing again. A week ago I wrote to google about a potential data loss and I do not know if this caused a reaction. for telephone systems we used to get 3 companies listed and that went to zero or in one other term just 1 company.

    I thought that people may want to send feed back of similar instances to google. Its very easy to do when you are google web page just go to bottom left and select feedback. I think this is the only way to communicate with them but please note its one way communication only.

  73. Hi,

    I verified my ‘service area business’ yesterday and was able to find it listed on both Google search & Google Maps. My ‘registered’/home address also showed up on the city map with a label & a red dot (which it isn’t supposed to, right?). But, this morning, there are two problems:

    1) The red dot is missing (which is fine) but my Map listing is also gone, and I’m not showing up on any searches by category either. Can I get myself to show up on my city map again (without a dot on my house)? Should I just make my address public so that I show up on the map as well as in the list? And how do I get listed with all of the other local businesses in my category?
    2) There seems to be no way for my clients to leave me any reviews through Google+ or anywhere else. How do I fix that? It’s pretty crucial to getting my listing bumped up and I need to get it running asap.

    I’ve made sure to follow your naming rules etc from above so that can’t be the problem and I’ve definitely set up the ‘service area’ settings correctly (the circle was visible last night!). Is it just a matter of having to wait a few more days (or weeks?) for my listing to get re-processed by someone? If so, then why was it accessible last night?

    This is driving me mad. Every website that claims to have a solution just gives the same instructions but those aren’t solving my problem. Not to mention that Google has changed the rules several times in recent years so 3/4 of the sites are out of date anyways. What do I do?

    Help!
    Thanks :\

    ps: Just to make matters worse, I set up my business email address before I listed it on Google – which, I understand, is a big no-no. Is there any way to reconcile the business’ need for a G+ account with the fact that I’ve already mistakenly set up a personal-type G+ account when I registered the email address? My guess is that’s just making matters more complicated for me, no? Eeek.

  74. Hi,

    I verified my ‘service-area’ website two days ago and the listing was immediately & fully visible on Google searches, Google+ and Google Maps. However, as of yesterday morning I could only find a partial listing (no pix, service area, or reviews) on Google+. I get a blank map of my immediate neighbourhood (not my whole service area!) when I search for my company’s name on Google Maps. And there’s NO listing at all when I search by city + business type.

    I’ve checked and my listing info meets Google’s criteria (as above) so is this just a case of being patient for a few days while Google re-verifies my listing and, if so, then why could I see it all before? And, just as importantly, why can’t anyone leave me a review?

    Also, when it originally showed up on a Google Maps search (for my biz type), there was a little red dot & label at my home/registered address. I assume that was a mistake and is only supposed to appear for storefronts, but does that mean that my business will only show up in the list of companies but not on the map? That doesn’t seem fair.

    Hope you can explain this to me because I’m baffled.
    Thanks!!

  75. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the advice. After two years of trying, my Estate Agency finally made the business list – in November of last year. It (along with all but three local businesses) has now been obliterated from the list. I assume that this is as a result of Pigeon, also?

    • @Billy, It’s crazy to assume anything in this game. A thorough audit would likely reveal where changes/improvements can be made to try to get your business back into the local packs.

  76. I am the managing director of the 727 car co ltd in Cheltenham uk, and i have recently noticed that there is a listing for my company that I know nothing of and did not instigate.

    The address is wrong, the phone number is wrong (the number is a private address who is not happy due to getting phone calls in the middle of the night etc), also many potential customers of my company have managed to find us eventually and complain that the number they are calling is not responding.

    All the correct info is on our web site

    • David Stokes,

      Google creates listings from information it discovers out on the web. For example, look at these listings:
      http://www.infobel.com/en/uk/727_car_co/cheltenham/41623433301/businessdetails.aspx
      1. 727 Car Co
      Unit E1 , GL51 8HE Cheltenham
      01242523523

      http://www.thomsonlocal.com/727-Car-Co-Ltd/0046112400000000003/
      727 Car Co Ltd
      01242 523523
      Unit E1 The Bramery/Alstone La , Cheltenham , GL51 8HE

      All of your listings should show the exact same business name, street address and local phone number to prevent confusion by Google’s algorithms.

      Also I do not see your address published anywhere on your website. It should be placed in text in the footer of all of your pages, preferably in schema.org coding.

      If you claim and verify the listing, you should be able to correct the info. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to verify it without access to the published phone number or address. I’d try using the Report a Problem link on the listing’s About page AFTER you place your address on your website.

  77. Hi Mary,

    Thanks very much for all the info.

    My listing only appears on google maps if you scan in further. So we are not getting seen initially.

    There are 2 bed and breakfasts in my town – see website, coming up well on the mapmap (first 3) who do not even have websites, one is not eveneven currently doing b&b, yet I am not listed in initial map search.

    My real world business name has my town andand title in the catagory, do you think this could be why? If not, any ideas would be much appreciated.

    Julie

    • @Juliann
      There are 200+ ranking factors that go into Google’s ranking algorithms, so it’s impossible to tell exactly what it might take for you to move up in the rankings without a thorough review. However, so me of the major points you can look at and compare to those who are ranking are: number of reviews on Google, number and quality of links pointing to the site, number and quality of citations pointing to the site, consistency of citations pointing to the site and the amount of unique, useful content on your pages. Improving any of these should help. Improving all of them should help a lot. This info can get you started: http://moz.com/blog/local-search-ranking-factors-2014

  78. THERE IS A COMPANY USING MY BUSINESS ADDRESS CAN YOU HELP SHUT THEM DOWN?

  79. 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.

  80. 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?

    David

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