Local Search

Updated (June 2017) Rules for Google My Business Listings

By November 18, 2014 June 19th, 2017 271 Comments

Google Local Business Listings

Google local business listings can appear in 3 places in the search results for Google: in Google Maps, in the local pack and within the localized 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I suspect that there are unpublished guidelines, too, that are not visible to us.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 with my comments  in blue. 

In September 2016, Google added  the paragraph below to the beginning of it’s guidelines. Google has been publicly embarrassed multiple times over its inability or lack of commitment to keep spam out of the local results. They’ve recently ramped up efforts and this may be one more warning before it takes further steps.



In early summer 2015, Google made some major updates to its business listing guidelines to provide specific direction to marketers. 

Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google

Summary: Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are. Creating a successful listing that won’t be suspended requires avoiding prohibited content, accurately reflecting your business, and complying with the rest of the policies below.

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.  Brands, organizations, artists, and other online-only businesses aren’t eligible for Google My Business listings.

Basic guidelines

Eligible businesses

In order to qualify for a Google My Business listing, 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 business listing:

  • Businesses that are under construction or that have not yet opened to the public.
  • Rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes, model 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.

Notes:  Sales offices that are in model homes that will eventually be sold are NOT eligible for a Google business listing.

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.


Only business owners or authorized representatives may verify and manage their business information on Google My Business. If you wish to share management access to your listing with others, you can  add 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. Agencies that have been giving permission to view/edit the listings of multiple businesses, will see all of those listing in their own Google My Business dashboard.

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).

Additional guidelines for authorized representatives

Any individual or company that manages business information on Google My Business for a business that they don’t own is considered an authorized representative. Examples: a third-party SEO/SEM company; a friend of the business owner; an online ordering, scheduling, or booking provider; and an affiliate network provider.

Authorized representatives must:

  • Never claim a business listing without express consent from the business owner.
  • Never make false, misleading, or unrealistic claims.
  • Never use harassing, abusive, or untrustworthy tactics with potential or existing customers.
  • Always work directly with the business owner to complete verification. Learn more about verification
  • Always ensure that the business owner understands what Google My Business is and where Google My Business data is used. Authorized representatives should share the following resources with the business’s owner:
  • Always keep the business owner informed about which actions the authorized representative will take on the business listing.
  • Always follow Guidelines for representing your business on Google. Note that the phone number and website for a listing should always be the single, authoritative phone number and website for the business and be verifiable by the business owner. Website content must be owned and managed by the business owner.
  • Always respond to management access requests promptly, and always transfer listing ownership to the business owner immediately upon request. Authorized representatives must, whenever possible, encourage the business owner to create an account, own the listing, and add authorized representatives as managers. Learn more about transferring ownership

Failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the listing and/or account.

Note: As most people reading this probably know, there have been numerous marketing companies using sleazy, deceptive tactics to scare SMBs into hiring them. The new rules above appear to be laying the groundwork to take action against them. Unfortunately, the way we are to report these outfits is not clear.

 Business Information


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

For example, if you were creating a listing for a 24 hour coffee shop in downtown San Francisco called Shelly’s Coffee, you would enter that business information as:

  • Business name: Shelly’s Coffee
  • Address: 3247 Poppy Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
  • Hours: Open 24 hours
  • Category: Coffee shop

Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended. Refer to the specific examples below to determine what you can and can’t include in your business name.

Throughout the examples below, names or parts of names in red 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“, “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.
    • “Holiday Inn (I-93 at Exit 2)“, “U.S. Bank ATM – 7th & Pike – Parking Garage Lobby near Elevator“, “Equinox near SOHO”
    • Acceptable: “Holiday Inn Salem”, “U.S. Bank ATM”, “Equinox SOHO”, “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.


In February 2014, Google announced that it would allow the addition of a “descriptor” to the business name in Google listings. In Dec 2014, this was rescinded and only the real world business name is permitted for use, again.

Read the additional guidelines for listings of chains and brands, business with different departments and professional practices that may be entitled to separate “practitioner” listings, if any of those situations applies to you. Don’t assume anything. 


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.
  • Suite numbers, floors, building numbers, etc. may also be included. Information like cross-streets and nearby landmarks should only be included in regions where the official street address doesn’t accurately pinpoint the business’s location.
  • 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 can check up on these and suspend 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.  Service-area businesses can’t list a “virtual” office unless that office is staffed during business hours.

Some businesses, like pizzerias that have both have restaurant seating and deliver pizza to customers, are hybrid service-area businesses. These businesses can show their storefront address and designate a service area in Google My Business. If you serve customers at your address and want to set a service area, your business location should be staffed by your team 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 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!

Business hours

Provide your regular customer-facing hours of operation. If applicable, you may use your current seasonal hours as your regular hours. You may also specify special hours for particular days, like holidays or special events.

Certain types of businesses shouldn’t provide hours, including those with varied hours (like schedules for different types of activities, including showtimes, worship services, or classes) and those that operate only by appointment. Examples of business that shouldn’t provide hours include, but are not limited to: hotels and motels, movie theaters, emergency rooms,  schools and universities, transportation services, airports,  event venues, and natural features.

If your business has departments (see “Departments”), provide the business hours for each department on that department’s separate listing, and provide the business hours for the main business on the main business’s listing.

Multiple sets of hours

If your business has multiple sets of hours, refer to these guidelines for particular industries:

  • Banks: Use lobby hours if possible. Otherwise, use drive-through hours. An ATM attached to a bank can use its own separate listing with its own, different hours.
  • Car dealerships: Use car sales hours. If hours for new car sales and pre-owned car sales differ, use the new sales hours.
  • Gas stations: Use the hours for your gas pumps.
  • Restaurants: Use the hours when diners can sit down and dine in your restaurant. Otherwise, use takeout hours. If neither of those is possible, use drive-through hours, or, as a last resort, delivery hours.
  • Storage facilities: Use office hours. Otherwise, use front gate hours.

Note: I think Google is making assumptions about what searchers wish to see – such as lobby or drive-through hours for a bank, for example – that can cause real problems for the customer and the business. If I want to get into my safety deposit box or talk to a loan officer, drive-through bank hours aren’t of any use to me. It would make much more sense to enable us to post separate hours for particular services.  

Seasonal hours

If your business has seasonal hours, use the following guidelines:

  • During the season in which you’re open, set hours that reflect the current season’s opening hours. You may set special hours for holidays, temporary closures, or other events.
  • When your business is out of season, remove all opening hours, so they appear as unset. Set your opening hours again at the beginning of your next open season.

Note: Seasonal businesses often must rely on gaining many or most of their ticket sales or bookings and brand discoveries/consideration for planning purposes during the months when they are not opened. Think about vacation rentals, amusement parks, fishing and hunting guides, ski areas, seasonal resorts, etc. Google seems to be assuming searchers will contact the business if they don’t see hours in the Local Knowledge Panel.


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. Discover common categories

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  Restaurant”).
  • “Navy Federal Credit Union” should use the category “Federal Credit Union” (rather than the less specific “Bank”).
  • “Super 8” is a motel with an onsite swimming pool. It should use the category “Motel” rather than “Hotel” and should not include “Swimming Pool” as a category.
  • “24 Hour Fitness” should choose the category “Health Club” (and not its amenities “Gym” or “Swimming Pool”).
  • “A1 Check Cashing” should use the category “Check Cashing Service” (rather than the less specific “Banking and Finance”).
  • “Wendy’s” is a fast food hamburger restaurant that also offers some desserts on its menu. “Wendy’s” should choose the category “Fast Food Restaurant”, and the additional category “Hamburger Restaurant”, but not use the category “Dessert Restaurant”.

If your business contains another business that your organization does not own and operate, only use categories that represent your business.

  • “Starbucks”, which has the category “Coffee Shop”, is operated inside “Barnes and Nobles”, which has the category “Book Store” (and does not have the category “Coffee Shop”).
  • “Cardtronics ATM”, which has the category “ATM”, is operated inside “7-Eleven”, which has the category “Convenience Store” (and does not have the category “ATM”).
  • “Nobu” has the category “Restaurant” and is operated inside “Hard Rock Hotel”, which has the category “Hotel” (and does not have the category “Restaurant”).

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 4 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. See the guidelines for specific examples of appropriate category selection, but be careful about taking this guideline too literally. If you have a car dealership, for example, don’t assume that Google will know that you sell used cars and repair and service vehicles and sell parts. 

If you can’t find a really relevant Google category for your business, take your best shot. Then use other directories where you can  be listed to clarify exactly what you do or sell.

In December 2016, Googled enabled the addition of a menu link to the local business listing that appears in the Local Knowledge Panel.  This is not just for restaurant menus , but also for menus of services that businesses provide. Considering how important the page this links goes to has now become, I recommend taking a hard look at your main services page and beefing it up in every way that you can. 


There are two kinds of menus:

  • A menu for an eating and drinking establishment (like restaurants or cocktail bars) that lists the complete set of food and drink items that are available at the business.
  • A menu for a service business like  a barber, spa, or car repair shop that lists the complete set of services that are available at the business.

Both kinds of menu must follow the following guidelines:

  • The menu should be representative of the items and services that are available for customers at the business. Full menus can be meal-specific (like breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and have links to other menu pages. For example, you may choose to link to your business’s dinner menu, which in turn may include links to the breakfast and lunch menus.
  • Sample menus that only list “popular items” (or similar excerpts) should not be submitted.
  • Menu URLs can’t be direct links to third-party ordering or delivery services.
  • Third parties that manage listings on behalf of clients must notify and have the consent of the business owner to submit a menu URL for a business.

Note: Restaurants as a whole have always been terrible at presenting their menus in ways good for SEO discovery. Google now gives them the opportunity to control the menu information searchers see at Google.  It now falls squarely on their shoulders to keep it accurate and up-to-date.

Other types of local businesses should use the menu option in Google My Business to clearly show searchers the services and products they offer.

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 listing.

  • 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 in an effort to try to get more listings.


If you change the name of your brand or any of your locations, update them by editing your business information.

Businesses are eligible for rebranding if:

  • The business name changes, but the business category, management, and ownership remain the same. 
  • The business acquires or merges with another business and changes its name. 
  • The business has multiple locations and changes the names for all of those locations. 

Businesses that make significant identity changes (e.g. hotel or fast food establishments that switch franchise affiliations or car dealers that specialize in a different make of car), are considered new businesses and aren’t eligible for rebranding. If your business is ineligible, first mark the existing business listing as permanently closed, then create a new listing using your new business identity.

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 listing if:

  • He or she operates in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own listings.
  • 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 listing for this location, separate from that of the practitioner.
  • The title of the listing for the practitioner should include only the name of the practitioner, and shouldn’t include the name of the organization.

Solo practitioners belonging to branded organizations

If a practitioner is the only public-facing practitioner at a location and represents a branded organization, it’s best for the practitioner to share a listing with the organization. Create a single listing, named 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 can backfire.

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.  Spam is rampant in Google Maps and Google doesn’t seem to be doing much about it. 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. This can include poor rankings, listing removal and/or account suspension – if not tomorrow, then at some point in the future.

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. Some businesses operate from a home address. Others are mobile and don’t have a storefront that customers visit.

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

Some verified businesses require another round of verification for address or category changes.

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.  

Since SABs have led the way with fake locations, don’t be surprised if you need to re-verify your listing when making a change to the category or to the business address. 


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

  • Ron Onni says:

    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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

      • Joel says:

        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.

  • Kristin says:


    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

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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

  • Colan says:

    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!

  • Mary Bowling says:

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

  • Salvatore says:

    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.

  • 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

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • Joe says:

    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?

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    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.

  • Bradley says:

    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?

  • Wajeeh says:

    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.

  • Tracey says:

    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!

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • Hugo Brennan says:

    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.

  • Wendy says:

    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.

  • Mary Bowling says:

    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.

  • 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 says:

      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 says:

          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).

  • Mary Bowling says:

    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?


  • Paul Mwaniki says:


    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

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • shawn says:

    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,

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • 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?

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • 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?

  • 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…

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

  • Mary Bowling says:

    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.

  • John says:

    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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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

  • Mark Hallam says:

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

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

  • Kate McGrory says:

    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!

  • Mary says:

    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.

  • Donald Love says:

    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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

  • Joel says:

    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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

      • Joel says:

        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?

        • Mary Bowling says:

          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.

  • luv mehta says:

    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.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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+

  • 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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

  • rossi says:

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

  • Newton says:

    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%.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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?

  • 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.

  • Andrea says:

    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!

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

  • Karen Dobson says:

    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

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.”


  • Mary Bowling says:

    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.

  • jason says:

    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?

    • Mary Bowling says:

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

  • jason says:

    thank you. hopefully the distinct phone number will help.

  • Karen Dobson says:

    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.

  • Idania Dorta says:

    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

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • Sheri says:

    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?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

  • Kala says:

    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.

  • Mary says:

    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.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

  • John says:

    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:)

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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)

      • John says:

        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..

  • Terry says:

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

  • TC says:

    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.


    • Mike Blumenthal says:


      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.

  • Mary Bowling says:

    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.

  • David Hazen says:

    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.

  • David Hazen says:

    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.

  • Mary Bowling says:

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

  • Mary Bowling says:

    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.

  • gorkreg says:

    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 🙂

  • Don says:

    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.

  • Sunil Mulay says:

    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?


  • Mary Bowling says:

    @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.

  • Matt says:


    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?



    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      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.

      • Matt says:

        Thanks Mike!

      • Matt says:

        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?

  • Don says:

    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.

  • David says:

    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+)


  • Darryl says:

    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.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

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

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

    Thank You!

  • 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.

  • Jim Wordes says:

    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?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

      • Jim Wordes says:

        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!

  • james says:

    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! 🙂

    • Mary Bowling says:

      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.

  • Gary says:

    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!

  • Alex says:

    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.

    • Mike says:


      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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @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.

      • Alex says:

        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.

        • Mary Bowling says:

          @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.

  • Mary Bowling says:

    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.

  • Scott says:

    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?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @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.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @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.

  • Alex says:

    Hi Mary,

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

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @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.

  • sadia says:

    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!

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @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)

      • sadia says:

        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!

        • Mary Bowling says:

          @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.

  • Alex says:

    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.

  • Katy says:


    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?

    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.

  • Katy says:


    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.

  • Billy says:

    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?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @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.

  • david stokes says:

    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

    • Mary Bowling says:

      David Stokes,

      Google creates listings from information it discovers out on the web. For example, look at these listings:
      1. 727 Car Co
      Unit E1 , GL51 8HE Cheltenham

      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.

  • julianna says:

    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.


    • Mary Bowling says:

      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



  • Nick Clark says:

    Hi Mary – always a great read for my clients so they understand proper process. I’ve also had quite good luck adding even more information and it has to do with the cover image and avatar image.
    I suggest titling your cover art the name of your business. So instead of using the title the camera gives your image ex: DSC1919199.jpg >> change the title to your biz: ex: Bail-Hound-BailBonds-Marketing.jpg
    I also change the EXIF information in the image to ensure I’ve plotted the correct latitude and longitude – and of course a proper subtitle, keywords, contact info, address… etc. It gets geekier…

    Google allows you to set your image location. Simply click anywhere on the cover image (aside from “Change Cover”) and you’ll notice you can add to the “Photo Details” and add a location. If your business is already validated you can add your business name and address and link the image. I also suggest adding a caption with a link. You can do the same for your avatar. Also, jpg images are the best to work with. Hope this helps. Cheers!

  • Nenad says:

    First of all I want to tank you for valuable informations.

    I still got problem with google maps. I verified my business, and when I search for it in google maps search bar with “Logopedski kabinet Novakovic” it is shown in the map, but when I look at that location on map (withouth serching via search bar) it is not shown. What is the reason for that?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Whether your business appears on the map or not is based on how prominent it is within that area. Local prominence is based on things like citations, reviews, local links and perhaps social shares and user behavior. Sometimes zooming in on the map will allow businesses that do not initially appear to show up.

  • Adam says:

    Hey Mary – this was all very helpful, thank you!

    Quick question: For a small pizza restaurant that mostly specializes in delivery, we chose the main category of Pizza Delivery, with secondary categories Pizza Takeout and Pizza Restaurant. Does this sound good?

    Also, we chose the “Service Area” to include our delivery area. Does this also appear to be correct according to guidelines? I have noticed other pizza chains that focus on delivery do not do this…

  • Samantha says:

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for the info!

    I have a dilemma!

    I have 2 offices, one which is on google map results and is doing well (I see clients there).

    The other office where I also see clients by appointment is residential so I don’t want to disclose the address (issues in the past with disclosure). For this office I don’t show up on the map … (this office is about 30 kms away)

    is there a way to show up on the google map without disclosing this office address and without losing my current placement on google maps in the other location?

    I notice that other people show up in places outside their area, maybe due to business name or certain tweaks that I am not sure about!

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanking you in advance.


    • Mary Bowling says:

      @Samantha Google does not offer an option for “by appointment only” in publishing business hours in a listing. If you do not publish your hours, I believe the local knowledge panel may show your business as closed all of the time. If you do publish hours, but aren’t really there during those times, then you’d be violating Google’s listing guidelines.

      Your home office may rank without a published address if you satisfy Google’s local algorithm, but it will probably rank for searchers close to your home office location and probably not for the same location as your other office 30 kms away. Here’s more info on what it takes to rank in Local Search: http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

  • Tyler says:

    I’m still having trouble on Google search results. I have a small business with several locations, each location differs a little in name, similar to “Nordstrom” and “Nordstrom Rack” as you mentioned. My end goal is getting all locations shown on a google search on google map with pins, A, B and C on the different locations in the area. What is the best way to achieve this?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @Tyler, Google is obviously rewarding brands and most local search practitioners feel this will not just continue, but possibly become an even stronger signal in the future. Therefore, I would seriously consider why you have fragmented your brand and think about consolidating it, instead.

      That said, it is an achievable goal for all of your locations to rank for appropriate terms using different business names. You are entitled to a listing for each of them as long as they can be verified. They can and should all be held in the same Google account. Rankings for each of the locations is based on the Google’s Local algorithm. You can learn more about what’s needed to rank each location here: http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

  • Mary Bowling says:

    @David, I’m sorry I didn’t realize I hadn’t answered this, yet. You may use home office addresses as long as they are legitimate business locations. If you do not meet with customers there, that needs to be indicated in your listing and Google will hide the address. As such, you have just as much chance of showing in the results for that city based on Google’s local algorithm. You can find detailed information on the local algorithm here.: http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

    If you want to do this only because you wish to rank for cities where you do not have a legitimate business locations, you should seriously consider what happens when a current employee leaves and you can no longer use his/her home address.

  • Kuldeep says:

    Our site no show google map listing first page, please guide me.

  • Don says:

    I have a client who is being pressured by an outside company to put their url link on the clients G+ Listing page. This is common practice for this company and I have argued not to do it. What are possible downfalls if they choose to let this company replace the url? The company is a review company and they are trying to drive traffic to our clients reviews on their website.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @Don Obviously, people will be sent to the review company’s site instead of to the client’s site. Why anyone would prefer that over having potential customers land on their own site? IMO, that is the real question.

  • James says:

    Hi Mary, awesome article and comments.

    I have 2 businesses:
    1. shredrescue.com.au
    2. themountaingarage.com.au

    Both operate at the same physical address, but they are different operations. 1 does servicing/repair work, and 2 is a retail snowboard shop. They have different phone numbers, different websites and slightly different categories (ski shop, snowboard shop).

    I have a verification card on my desk waiting to verify my new listing for The Mountain Garage. I’m just a little bit worried that even though they have different phone numbers and websites, and content, them being at the same address may cause a problem?

    Do you think there’ll be any problems for either business if I verify this second listing for The Mountain Garage?

    Thankyou so much.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      There are two requirements for you to avoid trouble in this situation:
      1-follow the rules for departments in the Google guidelines: ie different category for each department and all the othersetc
      2-Be sure that each phone is answered separately with the department name.

      If you can’t do both things to a T then you should avoid verifying the second listing.

  • Kyle says:

    I have a local cleaning business and I’m going to use a PO box for its address and plan on listing that address in all other citations.

    However, to provide a street address I’m planning on using my home address for the Google local listing and change the settings to a service area so the address is hidden.

    My question is whether this will cause a problem with my NAP not matching all of the others, even when they keep my address hidden?

    Thank you!

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @Kyle Consistent citations are a significant ranking factor in Google Local Search. Google does not allow you to use a PO Box address in your listings. Citations using a PO Box number will not improve Google’s trust in what it knows about your business, so they will not help you to rank better and may negatively affect your ranking potential.

  • john says:

    Thanks for the Detailed Post. is there any way to verify our Listings by Phone instead of Post Card

    • Mary Bowling says:

      If Google has any question about whether a business is in a particular location or not, it will only offer the post card method of verification and not the phone option.

  • joshua coleman says:

    I need to locate a company named cpap.com.
    I have no idea where its located. Can you help?

  • Cheryl says:

    Hi….this is a small dog in home boarding business…..by appointment only
    serving Pittsburgh area, mostly the “south hills”….don’t want to have the address as do not want people dropping by with dogs…require a reservation to accept dog and usually a “meet/greet” before boarding with the dog and owner

    How to list? we do not “service the area” at their home…it is in -home dog boarding for small dogs in Pittsburgh….? http://www.pinchsplace.com

    although it says “Lil Dog Lodge” on the logo should this actually be listed as little dog boarding? as that is the service

    I want to get this “right”>> thanks for your help

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      @Cheryl google does not really support by appointment business models. You have two choices – service area business with address hidden or regular business with address showing. In both cases you are required to show business hours when you are open and when a user can expect to be able to reach you.

      Your name should be the name that you are known by in the real world.

      • Mary Bowling says:

        Mike, I see local knowledge panels that do not display hours. Is publishing business hours really a requirement in Google My Business? What happens if you don’t provide them?

  • I am inquiring about a problem we have with Google. I work in a physicians office and our number is googled often—but there are other physicians that are in the same office bldg. & when Googled it gives them our number. It is numerous physicians that have nothing to do with our practice. Do you have any suggestions as to how our phone number can be removed from the other physicians listings?? Hope you can help, this is driving us crazy!!
    Thank you,
    Rhonda Hammond
    ULP-University Surgical Associates

  • Kim says:

    Under description in the Google My Business location details is ‘Labels’. What is this bit for please?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      @Kim I think you may be referring to Google My Business Locations, the interface for 10+ business locations. If so there are a lot of things that are different in multi-location management. Please download the template and read the documentation for including details in your spreadsheet and then format it exactly as the instructions tell you to. I believe labels are something you can use to manage listings in groups.

  • Mary,

    I really enjoyed the read and it helps alot but I do have a situation I was hoping you can help me with with my Google My Business Page Rank. On June 1, 2015 I relaunched my website to it’s newest verison the platform went from Joomla to WordPress. Up until June 1st City Cab of Myrtle Beach was 1st up on GMB for 6 years. I currently have 58 reviews (closest competior has 12), I answer my reviews, and I am actively working Google+. On June 7, 2015 google did crawl for the new version from that point on I have been somewhere between 21st – 31st with the only change I major change I made was my old address to my currect address. Everytime I talk with Google they say it’s a matter of time. My business went from having over 200 calls a day to 15-20 calls per day this has cost me alot of business and I really don’t understand what has happened. Please, if you could I need help…..

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Hi Robert,
      The local search algorithm is extremely complex. You need to look at all of the factors that go into ranking well in organic and in Google Maps – you need to rank well organically AND in Google Maps to get into the Local Packs. Ranking is all relative, so you also need to examine and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. From the drop you describe in the number of calls you’re getting it sounds like you were either hit with an algo change or a penalty of some sort OR that the website changes you made hurt you for some reason. If you cannot figure this out on your own, it may be worthwhile to hire a professional to help you out.

  • Lovi says:

    Hi Mary,

    I created a Google My Business page. After the verification, now for some reason my business shows up on two different locations on the same street on google maps and doesn’t appear on google.com web search at all.


    Kindly help

  • Victor says:


    Thanks fro clarifying some questions I had regarding the Service Area Business listings. I listed my business in that category, but I don’t ever see it listed in Google’s results. Does Google only show brick and mortar locations? If so, I don’t see the benefit of adding my business to their directory (Google Local Listings). Any thoughts? Thanks!

  • Jake says:

    Hi there

    I’ve recently started at a new company. It appears that we currently have both a local Google+ page and a brand page set up (separately set up by the two directors of the business).

    We’re actually a SaaS online-only business with no physical shop front, but we only sell our product in NZ. It is great having a local page as it means when people in our region are searching for relevant keywords in google we show up in the maps results at the top of page one (with our phone number also showing).

    My understanding is that as an online business we should not have a local page at all. I have two questions:

    – Are there any downsides to keeping the local page (eg, might google rank us lower in other regions as it thinks we’re not so relevant there)?
    – If we shut down our local page, is there any way we can get our brand page to show in the maps results for google search?


    • Mike Blumenthal says:


      Brand pages will only show if you have enough brand equity (as defined by Google). That is hard to get and usually requires a Wikipedia article

      Google might suspend your local listing.

  • tahir says:

    currently i have 100 locations, but currently i dont have the multiple phone nos.
    can i use one Tool-free no with Extensions for all locations?

  • Hi Mary – thanks as always for the great info! I need to get stand-a-lone ATMs for a local bank listed in Google. Can you point me to specific instructions for doing this the RIGHT way? Thanks a million!!

    • Mary Bowling says:

      I’ve never done it, but Google provides for it in its 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.

  • Mary Bowling says:

    David, You can get a listing for any legitimate business location and can use a home address if that is indeed a legitimate business location. If its an employee or relative’s home, that is not acceptable. Google may require some kind of proof that the business location is legitimate, such as a business sign outside the house.

  • Darin Winder says:

    My business shows up when searching for “Turnaround Video” but it does not show up when searching by address. Basically what this means is that we are invisible unless people know to search for us. This is our 10th year and we have more traffic than any other business in our plaza. I have called a few times and did what they told me to do but nothing has worked so far. My guess is that somehow the building we are in (in Rancier Plaza) sits back from the street too far and Google is not recognizing it as being on that street. The only reason that I say this is because I have tried everything and no other business in the building I am in is listed either. PLEASE HELP!

  • Can you advise please my business website has been listed on google for 6 plus years and now my listing has been removed, with a similar named business from the Uk is showing in its place no longer on Google maps, no reviews all gone. Signed into Google and it said the account was suspended, tried to create a new account but would not allow me too. Contacted Google and emailed them and they said they could not advise me and they would email me. Why would this happen?

  • Don Arquette says:

    Thank you for this page. You have answered so many of my questions already but I still need help.
    I have a business where I work from my truck. I created a G+ account and business took off and I was coming up 1st on searches. I had a 5 star rating with 5 or 6 great reviews. Christmas comes and calls slowed down and about stopped new years. I did a search and didnt show up. I was suspended for spamy activity. I talked with the help and they had me delete my G+ page and gmail and start a new one as well as send them a copy of my business lic. Tax ID number and had me verify my address again.That took about 2 weaks. I got my card in the mail and put in what was on the card and VIOLA Im suspended again. Then they tell me they dont know why and cant do anything for me. I now dont come up at all on Google and am about to loose my mind. I relied on that listing for about 90% of my business. I am a legit business and I see these other business with fake address that are scams and they come up first on the list every time. I realize that they pay to come up first but they’re not even in our town. I dont know what to do any more and Im running out of hair to pull out. Im a locksmith and love my job and dont want to start another career. Please help me if you can! Thanks

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Unfortunately the locksmith industry has been the source of an overwhelming amount of spam on Google and legitimate locksmiths suffer for it along with the spammers.

      Your website exhibits some traits common to spammers, including an atypical URL (http://arquetteslockandkey.simdif.com/ looks like a free website builder, which shows little no commitment to having a legitimate presence on the web): no location information what-so-ever; no information about the areas where you do work; no information about you, your experience, you license – not even your name. I would work to make my website and the information on it more trustworthy to both the Search Engines and humans visitors.

      However, you still have to get a live listing up and that can only be accomplished by resolving whatever issue Google has with your business. I would continue to nicely email them, chat with them, call them and use twitter to try to get a satisfactory answer., so that you can work to correct the problem. You can also try to get help in the forum: https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Google-My-Business/ct-p/GMB#

  • Don Arquette says:

    Thank you for viewing my web page. I new it wasnt the best and needed some work, but no one has said anything about the things you have suggested. Im not very good with a computer and I am dyslexic so this kind of thing I have a hard time with. I think Im going to hire someone to set me up right and get me back working. It may be out of budget but if it keeps my listing up it should pay for its self. I have found that trying to cut corners will end up costing you more $$ than you save sometimes. Thanks for your help!!! What you said made more sense than anything I got from Google. Thank you!

  • Mary Bowling says:

    You’re very welcomed, Don. Good luck with your business!

  • my business shown on maps but din’t at google search results.

    keyword – buy crackers online

    keyword ranks for 4th position but din’t shown at google maps. it only shows 2 results instead of 3. just added my business name “vedishop”.

    can you please guide me on this issue

  • Mary Bowling says:

    The keyword you say that you wish to rank for indicates that you may be an online business, rather than a local one.

    In any case, ranking in the Google organic results depends on how well you satisfy the organic algorithm. You can gain more information on those requirements here https://moz.com/search-ranking-factors and here: http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

  • Nummero says:

    Hi Marry,

    I need one suggestion from you. When I search digital marketing company in bangalore, my business page is not coming in first page. As its having good reviews & rating. Websites those didn’t have no reviews & rating these are coming in first. Please help me on that! Check my business page as my website links.

  • Hi Mary,
    Great article. My question is about multiple related businesses, all non face to face sales on line, all representing or selling to separate locations. Each related business has its own website and domain, but operated from the same location in ontario.

    Here is how. I have companyOntario.ca, companyAlberta.ca, companyManitoba.ca they all have their own websites. Do I create all separate google+ accounts and brand pages, or use my one companyOntario.ca account with multiple brand pages managed from the one account?

    Each website is targeting only that province. And im hoping to rank that site for that province when the user in that location types in my keywords.

    Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you again,

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Online only businesses should not set up Google My Business listings, so it sounds like the “rules” discussed in this article do not really apply to your business model. As far as brand pages, you can do it either way.

  • Mike says:

    Would appreciate any help.
    I am opening a service business in a city that i don’t yet live in. I wanted to plan in advance and start ranking my site and local search now so that when i move in a few months i will already rank.The problem is i dont have an address their yet…

    I know google frowns on PO boxes, so i was thinking of getting a virtual office.
    I dont see how google can flag me for that..

    Any advice would be much appreciated

  • videolur.com says:

    My old company once had a freelancer to complete my search engine optimisation and about 6 weeks later I
    checked and our site had gone down in the rankings, did I pick a bad SEO’er?

  • Marek says:

    Local SEo is nothing more than – reviews, citation and hq backlinks + telephone number

  • Olivier says:

    Hi Mary,

    We are a florist located located in NYC. We deliver flowers to our customers at their location (everywhere in the Northeast) AND we also serve customers at our business address and allow walk-ins. Our shop is inside a building, i.e to say that you can’t see the store front from outside walking in the street.

    Our full address used to appear in our listing when we appeared in the local pack. It suddenly disappeared 2 to 3 weeks ago and only the city is listed. I went to check our information in Google My Business. It is correct. The box is checked for: “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” and the box is also checked for “I also serve customers at my business address. (Your address will be hidden from the public if this box isn’t checked.) ”

    I am assuming Google is viewing us as only an online business which is incorrect. We have a significant number of people who walk in to place orders and pick up flowers. How can I fix this as our customers can’t find our address when they search for us on Google?

    Thank you for your help

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Contact Google support, explain your problem and ask them to help you to fix it. Be prepared to have them question whether or not you serve customers at your location. Photos of your business entrance and sign and the of interior of your retail shop will help you to make your case.

  • Nicole says:

    I have a client that has a brick and mortar “RENTAL” kitchen – many companies (34) use this kitchen on a rental basis —- they each have their own business inside of one location. How can they each claim their listing?
    Does it make sense to issue each a suite #? Using unique phone #’s and emails.
    Thank you!!

  • Mary Bowling says:

    With what I can surmise from what you wrote, the kitchen that is for rent may be a business that qualifies for a listing. The businesses that rent the kitchen are not entitled to a listing for that location. However, they may be entitled to a listing for some other “place” where they do business.

  • Kim says:

    For a business with a few locations, I would set up an account for the owner and create Google+ local business pages for each location, each having their own local phone number. I am now taking over the SEO for another firm and looking at their setup, the previous SEO firm created google+ local business pages for each location, which is fine, but they also have a brand page for the business in general as well under the same account. Is this okay? Can you have local business pages and then also a brand page for the business? Don’t want to be penalized and wondering if I should delete the brand page.
    Thank you for your help.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      The local pages manged via your Google My Business dashboard are your bread and butter. The brand page is a social G+ page, which is pretty insignificant these days. You can have both.

  • It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Matt M says:

    Hi – I’m wondering if there is a standardized phone number format that Google requires or prefers. I would imagine it is (123) 456-7890 because that is how they display phone numbers in their own products (Google Maps, etc.).

    However, I don’t know if this is a hard-and-fast rule, or if they would treat 200.100.3000 the same way in listings – give them the same weight, and so on.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      I think the GMB dashboard forces the (xxx) xxx-xxxx format. I know a lot of designers like the xxx.xxx.xxxx format and Google can usually tell what that represents but the (xxx) xxx-xxxx format is undeniably a phone number, so that is what I prefer to use.

  • Riddhi Mehta says:

    Hi, Just wanted to understand if there’s any way to change the primary phone number of the location? I’ve added a new number but that shows as alternate number which is not shown to public. Please help!

    • Mary Bowling says:

      You can edit your phone numbers from within your Google My Business account and designate whichever one you wish as the primary number and others as alternate numbers. (The little pencil icon is the place to click for editing in GMB.)

  • Deebak Utpal says:

    Thank you very much Mary for this essential information on Google and local business listing rules.

  • AchieveJyuku says:


    I am stunned by the complete lack of service from Google. We have been waiting for nearly two and a half months for a verification postcard and have as of now requested four in total:

    First request 20160820
    Second request 20160913
    Third request 20161006
    Forth request 20161101

    Have you got any idea what is going on. We have been receiving mail to our address so we know it is correct. I would love to contact Google about this directly, though they have zero options for contacting them other than the “was this article helpful” for which everything I have seen has been far from helpful.

    With the forth request we have also been told to be careful because we can only request verification one more time! Insane in that we have been unable to get anything from Google to verify things.

    Close on giving up with verifying the local business as it seems that Google is more interested in making money than actually making the internet a better place where people can actually access the stuff they are looking for!

    • Mary Bowling says:

      First, I’d carefully read and reread the guidelines for Google My Business listings to make sure yours complies with the rules. Sometimes if violations are noted, the postcard is never sent out.

      If you are in compliance, then I suggest trying to get their attention via twitter @GoogleMyBiz . Please let us know how it goes.

  • Hesham says:

    I have a listing that follow the google roles by word, but a competitor who is un-ethically suggesting an edit everyday , and inserting his phone number and company name , and causing me troubles every with my listing,,,,,how i can disable him from doing that !

  • Mary Bowling says:

    @ Hesham , try tweeting @GoogleMyBiz and asking for help with this problem.

  • eza says:

    Hi Mary,

    Great article!

    I have a quick question regarding the use of local phone number instead of 1300 or 1800 numbers:

    What would be the best phone strategy for an online store (e.g.art store) that does not have physical store’s but has multiple service area’s (different states)?

    Would you be required to have individual local state numbers for each state? If not how would you go about local citation building (I feel that using a different area code number would have a negative effect)



    • Mary Bowling says:

      Only businesses that interact with their customers face-to-face either at their own location or at the customer’s location are entitled to a Google Local Business Listing. Online-only businesses are not accepted for a listing at GoogleMyBusiness. You will need to work towards organic rankings for each of your market areas instead, mostly via well-optimized, unique, useful on-page content and good links.

  • Ryan says:

    Is there a way to bulk upload zip codes in the “My business delivers goods & services to customers within this area:”? I can only see a way to add them one by one.

    We have offices that service 50+ zip codes. To add these one by one is probably no worth the time. Do people usually do a large radius if they have a lot of zip codes?


  • Mary Bowling says:

    In addition to outlineing your service area via zip code and radius, you can choose DMAs (Designated Market Areas), which usually encompass a larger area, like metro Dallas or the greater Los Angeles area. You may try using those instead of zipcodes.

  • leo says:


    I was add my internet site http://www.gintarosupirkimas.eu to my google business
    my google business name- surname is Gintaro supirkimas as website name

    google confirmed my business

    but there is a problem, when I go to google search and enter keyword “gintaro supirkimas” so google not found me and not show able on a right corner

    But when I write in google search “gintaro supirkimas taikos”

    so google open my business with website, but in this case need to write + street”taikos” it is not good to me and my clients 🙁

    can you help me to check why on the main keyword “gintaro supirkimas” google not find my googlemybusiness ??

    many thanks

  • leo says:


    many thanks for quick response, could tell me link of google support ,I can speak english well so you can write uk support number or forums with support

    best regards,

  • Mary Bowling says:

    direct message @GoogleMyBusiness on Twitter and ask them for assistance – I’ve found you can get the best support via this channel

  • nice article posting it is very useful for me thank you very much

  • I have a business called Advance Auto Body Inc and Im listed with all the Advance Auto Parts stores..mine is the first one..Im not affiliated with these stores but have been receiving about 10 calls per day for the last 9 years…Its annoying. Advance Auto Parts didnt do anything about it after repeativly contacting them, can google help me and get my name removed.. and I feel I should get some kind of settlement for all the aggrivation of explaining eachwrong call….here is the link:

  • didot says:

    hi i have a current business listed on google my business its on local knowledge panel whenever you type our targeted keyword, its not actually the name of our business but instead a keyword that we have targeted and was able to verify

    it was working for like 3-5 months now but upon reading google’s policy about Service-area businesses i wonder if we uncheck “I also serve customers at my business address. (Your address will be hidden from the public if this box isn’t checked.)” option what will happen? will our business still be shown on local knowledge panel? I wonder how google treat brick and mortar vs service base?

    I asked cause this local knowledge panel is really our edge on our competition, our site is not ranking so well but with local knowledge panel we are being highlighted and able to have a fair share of competition.

    Thank you hope to hear from you soon.

  • Subhendu says:

    I want to list my website http://www.thespirityamaha.com ,but the keyword i use to list is not showing any other listing..need your help to know why google is not showing listing for some of the keywords like “Yamaha showroom in kothrud,pune”

  • Jayesh says:

    Thanks for your post.

    I am running painting business like I get orders from my local area and now my business is much bigger.

    So, I want to target more customers and so, I tried to change the “area we serve” but I can’t edit it more than 620 miles but I want to serve 1000 miles from my head quaters.

    Is it possible? Yes then let me know or suggest me a better option.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      The area served feature does NOT affect where you business listing will show. Typically it will only show within 2-10 miles of your location no matter what the area served is set to.

      You would be better off considering organic optimization of your web site AND possibly adwords or adwords express to address your needs across that area.

  • Mary Bowling says:

    The search algorithms are quite complex and you need more relevance and prominence that other local businesses of your kind to rank well. You also need to be close enough to the searcher and/or the area being searched for Google to see you as a good answer for the searcher’s request.

  • Nice Post i like it very much

  • It is quite interesting and useful. You have done a fantastic job here. Wish to see more updates from you.

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  • Woah got to know so much from your blog. Never thought Google local business listings can appear in 3 places in the search results. Now I will keep these rules in my mind for my new Parlour business listing. Can you tell me how long it will take to verify my business listing on google? Thanks for writing.

    • Mary Bowling says:

      If it’s a brand new business, it may take a few weeks to get a postcard, enter the code from Google and get it verified. If it’s a business that’s been around a while, you may be able to verify it via a phone call, which will be quicker.

  • Hi Mary,
    Fabulous blog with lots of information to take in. I was wondering if there is any hope for my 2 small businesses as I operate both from my home address so I can’t add a unit or suite to it and I use the same mobile number for both.
    Do I take it I have absolutely no option when it comes to local listings for the second company? Yes, I can get a second phone to have a different number but I can’t do anything about the same physical address.
    Both businesses are quite different but both locally targeted.
    I realised the issue when I started directory listings for my second company Tipple in a TukTuk and on using Moz to review my local listings it pointed out that it makes my first company View from the Slow Lane look inconsistent for local search rankings. Even though the names are completely different will this negatively affect my local SEO?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      If the two businesses you are running from the same address are in the same Google category, like catering, then Google essentially sees them as the same business, even if they have different suite numbers. Google pays no attention to suite numbers because of fake listing abuses.

      If the two businesses are in different categories, say photographer and caterer, then you should be able to get Google My Business listings (and citations elsewhere) for both of them.

  • RD says:

    Mary, one of the best articles on this out there.

    Quick question: Do service area businesses show up on on all three places you mention, or maybe more importantly what are the nuances to be aware of?

    It is not clear what would be correct, expected results from maybe something implemented incorrectly on the business’s side.

    For example, for the search “plumbers in Kansas City, MO” in Google Maps seems to show only those who have an address. At this time, with my search I see R-Mech listed on the left, but no labeled pin on the map – yet, when clicking on the listing on the left, it does show a central pin with a shaded radius around it.

    Strangely, other businesses, when clicking on their listing, do NOT have a radius, though they do have a labeled pin. Have they set themselves up incorrectly?

    So, I don’t know if there is something R-Mech should do to have their pin labelled or somehow present on the map itself?

    Hey, as a user, I’d probably look at the map and miss them entirely, especially as I zoom in closer (the results for KC cover a 30+ mile distance top to bottom) even though they remain in the list on the left info panel.

    This seems a significant disadvantage to owners of small businesses that may not (yet) have a public facing business address.

    Also, on a regular Google Web search for that same phrase, of course R-Mech does not show up in the local pack (understandably, if not on the top three in Google Maps listing).

    But, when clicking on More Places, it seems like there is something like an iframe of Google Maps presented – with a list on the left, and map with pins on the right, only this time when clicking on R-Mech down the list, NO service area radius is provided, and the details show up on top of the map (vs in the info panel on the left under Google Maps).

    So, Google behaves differently in different places?

    Also, it is not clear if this (not having an address) is a disadvantage for R-Mech in terms of local organic search results – they are not even on the first three pages.

    Note: I have no relation to this business, but just picked it as an example to work through.

    Would appreciate any clarity you could provide on this.


  • Mary Bowling says:

    The Google My Business listings of Service Area Businesses (SAB)s are eligible to display on Google Maps, in the Local Finder and in the Local Pack, but they have to earn the rankings that will enable them to be seen by a large number of searchers.

    SABs have always been at a disadvantage in local search becuase one of the three legs of the local search algo is proximity. Just because they may be willing to travel 50 miles to do a job doesn’t mean searchers tend to pick a business of that type 50 miles away from them. SABs who have a physical location where customers can meet with them during their stated business hours may show an address. Those who do not, should not display their address. Either may choose a radius or zipcodes to show their service area.

  • Mapsko Group says:

    Great Post Thanks for sharing.

  • CH says:

    Is there a way to report other businesses that have not followed the name/tagline/descriptor rule? We have many competitors in the area that add ridiculous titles to their business names (ie “Business Name Personal Training Gym” instead of just “Business Name”)

  • Mark Nelson says:

    I called Google My Business support to ask if Google would merge reviews for my business that are showing up in two distinct locations on the internet. The support team saw the problem, and noted they could fix the problem but refused to help me because they said my business sign does not comply with Google’s signage policy.

    I lead a small Soto Zen Buddhist meditation and practice group in a rented room at our local Unitarian Church. We have been renting the room, we have lease agreement, since August 2017. My sign includes our name, website, and meeting schedule. It is taped in a window inside the door of the church and is clearly visible from outside the church. It’s been in the window since August 2017. We also have signs inside the church directing visitors and members to our rented room. We have members and guests on an almost daily basis at our meditation, service. and class offerings.

    I’ve read Google’s policy. I think I’m in compliance with the policy which seems to only require that my “business” (we are an established 501(c)(3) charitable, religious organization) is consistently identifiable across signage, website, and letterhead.

    I’ve called and emailed Google multiple times since I would like to comply with their policy. They will only tell me that I have “improper” signage. They will not tell me what constitutes “proper” signage. A Google help staffer told me that they have confidential signage “checks” that differ from Google’s stated signage policies. In other words, they would tell me what does not count as proper signage but, since it’s not stated in Google’s published policies, they would not tell me what qualifies as proper.

    I can’t believe Google is refusing to help us based on my business sign, a sign which is consistent with my real world presence and activities across my business location, website, and letterhead.

  • Rajamanickam says:

    I have listed property details and verified on 25.01.2018. But still I am not able to search my property details in google search option. The details have been verified successfully also. Kindly help me with the details.

  • Divya Sharma says:

    They will only tell me that I have “improper” signage. They will not tell me what constitutes “proper” signage. A Google help staffer told me that they have confidential signage “checks” that differ from Google’s stated signage policies

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Proper signage is probably a permanent outdoor sign on or in front of your building displaying your business name as you’re listed it in Google My Business.

  • Piet Steyn says:

    Great article, thank you though I can not really find an exact answer for my business. I am a hunting outfitter that guides hunts in Tanzania and South Africa. I will obviously be a service area business. But in my case I stay in Oudtshoorn, South Africa and take clients on hunts in Tanzania and different areas in South Africa. Will Tanzania then be my service area? But what about the other areas where I take clients, like Kimberley in SA or Oudtshoorn in SA. Can I have more than one service area?

    • Mary Bowling says:

      Piet Steyn, You will have to indicate your entire service area in your single Google My Business listing. Google My Business is probably not the best way to market what you do unless many of your perspective clients are in or near Oudtshoorn, South Africa, where you business is located.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      If you do not have a walk in office or do not serve a local clientele then you may not be eligible for a listing.

      If you are eligible then setting your service area to anything like Tanzania will do you little good.

      You can have only one service area.

  • Anthony C. says:

    Thanks for the detailed read. I reached your post because I was trying to figure out if PO box addresses would work for a local service that doesn’t have a retail location.

    My apologies if I missed that bit in the post. If not, I’m wondering if you have any ideas on this.


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