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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    GMBguidelines

    Google has been working on updating the Google My Business guidelines to try to make them clearer and they just went live. There are a lot more examples and many of the guidelines are spelled out in greater detail.

    Some important things have changed as well so be sure to read VERY carefully.

    2 ITEMS TO NOTE:

    DESCRIPTORS NO LONGER ALLOWED

    There was a reversal of the recent guideline that said you COULD add a descriptor. (One of the reasons I've advised against adding one, is I was pretty sure this would be overturned.) Now we are back to real-world names only.

    NAME

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

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

    More details + examples in this section - so be sure to read.

    CATEGORIES

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

    Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.

    Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.

    Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.

    More inside this section - so be sure to read.


    Read all the new guidelines here:
    Guidelines for representing your business on Google


    There is a lot more detail about practitioners and several other things as well.

    Overall I think they did a really good job. The guidelines are much more granular and many things are spelled out much more clearly. I think all the detailed examples will help SMBs understand better too.

    What do you think???

    Please point out anything else noteworthy below.


    The Top Contributors got a preview of an initial draft, but changes have been made since then, so I'm still reading the final version. I may have more things to point out once I get through it all.

    ADDED 12/2 - Copy of previous guidelines below. (Quick copy/paste didn't take time to format.)

    Attached Files Attached Files
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

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  2. #2
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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    ALSO NOTE:

    Virtual offices like Regus are now specifically excluded.


    "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."
    (They were not allowed before, it was just not clearly spelled out.)

    Apologies - the forum server is very slow and almost timing out due to the increased traffic.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  3. #3
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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    Thanks for the heads up on the new guidelines Linda. They're way more extensive and it's interesting that they've reversed the name descriptor. Just putting a proposal together where I was thinking of using that tactic but will leave that well alone now!

    There are a ton of businesses that don't stick to these guidelines, whether or purpose or out of ignorance. What does Google actually do, if anything, when they find a naughty listing?
    Nick Rink | Smart Local Marketing
    Follow me on Twitter | Circle me on Google+ | Connect with me on LinkedIn
    Check your local listings and reviews here

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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    Great scooping, Linda.

    @Nick

    As I commented over at Mike's blog, I call BS. I doubt Google will enforce these rules. Not saying they can't, but why suddenly would they be motivated to get into gray areas like trying to determine whether or not a virtual office is "staffed" or a category is too broad? (Rhetorical question, of course )

    I suspect Google will make an example of a few business owners and leave it at that - until they change the rules again.

  5. #5
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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    Thanks Nick and Phil.

    Here is Mike's post with other nuances I had not gotten around to yet.

    Google Rolls Out Major Update to Google My Business Guidelines | Understanding Google Places & Local Search

    Sorry, my server keeps crashing every time I try to add to this thread so I'm all backed up trying to add feedback.

    FYI I scored a copy of the previous guidelines right before they were updated. Have been trying to upload a copy so you have it if you ever need to compare, but server keeps timing out and won't take the attachment. Will try to do later.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Rozek View Post
    Great scooping, Linda.

    @Nick

    As I commented over at Mike's blog, I call BS. I doubt Google will enforce these rules. Not saying they can't, but why suddenly would they be motivated to get into gray areas like trying to determine whether or not a virtual office is "staffed" or a category is too broad? (Rhetorical question, of course )

    I suspect Google will make an example of a few business owners and leave it at that - until they change the rules again.
    I agree and would bet that we will continue to see listings using descriptors with no repercussions.

  7. #7
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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    @Nick, concur completely with @PhilRozek and the BS meter. Higher on their guidelines infraction radar, Google should look toward an oldie but goodie: Service Area Businesses displaying addresses and ranking high. Been waiting for that smack down now for three years (at least). So I don't think they will or even could take issue with descriptors.

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    Question re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    OK - thanks Linda for the link to Mike's summary points. One item on Mike's list really stuck out for me:

    "If Different departments are to have their own page they must have unique categories."

    In working with businesses that have multiple listings for different locations and/or departments I can only wonder how the heck that will work given the really poor list of categories Google offers without any ability to customize.

    Any thoughts or experience out there on this?

    Inquiring Minds Want to Know...


  9. #9
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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    I actually look at the virtual office statement differently. I see it as specifically allowing a virtual office location as long as it is staffed during normal business hours. There has definitely been confusion as to whether a business that properly used a virtual office could in fact have a GMB page.

    And the answer to that is "Yes". As long as it's staffed (during normal business hours).

    They don't say by whom it should be staffed but I'll read between those lines and assume they mean by a full time employee of the company.

    ---------- Post Merged at 05:06 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 05:03 PM ----------

    Celeste,

    Google, in these updated guidelines, specifically says to list as few categories as possible because "Google can also detect category information from your website and from mentions about your business throughout the web".

    From their perspective, they don't really care much about categories because their search algo is likely looking at external factors even more so than what is in the Google My Business page.

    Now, if you're a business/university/etc that has multiple departments and is entitled to multiple pages with different categories, it just means you really have to know what you're doing with citations (both structured and unstructured) and on creating appropriate location (or department specific) landing pages. And that those landing pages might in fact need to include more information than just basic contact info.


    Lloyd Silver
    Cairn Marketing

  10. #10
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    re: Major Update: New Guidelines for Google My Business (Google Places)

    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste View Post
    OK - thanks Linda for the link to Mike's summary points. One item on Mike's list really stuck out for me:

    "If Different departments are to have their own page they must have unique categories."

    In working with businesses that have multiple listings for different locations and/or departments I can only wonder how the heck that will work given the really poor list of categories Google offers without any ability to customize.

    Any thoughts or experience out there on this?

    Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

    Well if distinct and different departments the way I think Google wants them, it would be clear with no crossover. Like say different departments at a hospital or university. But you are right about the limited categories making that a challenge in some cases.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

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