A few days ago Google updated its Local page quality guidelines. Any businesses currently using Google My Business (previously Google Places and Google+ for Business) or looking to sign up in the near future are affected by this update. These guidelines are generally considered rules, not guidelines, as failure to comply can cause your listing to be removed. Here are the key takeaways:
Major changes were summarised by Mike Blumenthal and include the following:
– Descriptive words are no longer allowed in the name of your business unless it is part of the legal business name.
Although businesses used to be able to get away with descriptive titles such as “Bob’s Pizzeria–open 24 hours” or “Bob’s Pizzeria Edinburgh,” Google no longer accepts this. Your My Business title must be your official business name, “Bob’s Pizzeria,” for example.
– Categories should be as specific as possible. Therefore, you should not use the general overarching category, but the more specific category that applies to your business instead.
Don’t use categories to describe attributes of your business. So don’t list every service or product your business has to offer, select categories that describe your business as a whole.
– The new guidelines have increased name and category consistency among chains with multiple locations.
– Two or more brands at the same location must choose one name, unless the brands operate independently.
– If different departments within the same business have their own page, they must have unique categories.
– Practitioner’s pages (for lawyers, doctors, and real estate agents) in multiple location practices should have their name only and not the name of the practice as the title of their listing.
– Solo practitioners can only use the category of Practice: Practitioner.
– Virtual offices are not allowed; offices must be staffed.
So, what’s the most important thing to take away for your business?
The key takeaways for a majority of small businesses are generally the first two point listed above and are also the points most heavily emphasised by Google:
– 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.
Everything else is more or less case specific so have a read through of the guidelines if you’re unsure or leave a comment below.
If you’re new to Google My Business, check out our blog post about why you should get Google My Business and how to get started. If you are a purely online business, don’t worry! You can set up a brand page on Google, which is catered to online only businesses and will essentially give you the same benefits.
Users are generally skeptical as to the extent and rigidity with which Google will implement these new guidelines, however, as previously mentioned, it is always better to adhere to the guidelines than to suffer the wrath of Google and potentially get your My Business Listing penalised or removed.