GUIDELINE CHANGE - City or Keyword in Places Title Allowed Now

Linda Buquet

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HEADS UP! There has been a small, yet kinda major change to the Places for Business Guidelines.

It used to be a violation of a sort of unwritten rule that you could not add city or a keyword to the business title of the Place page. It USED to be the biggest reason listings got suspended IMO.

For some unknown reason Google has changed the quality guidelines to now allow business owners to add EITHER City or a single keyword descriptor to the listing (but not both.)

Here is the update from Jade, then see more of my comments below. (Bold by me for emphasis.)

Clarification of Places guidelines

Just a heads up that today, we clarified our Google Places Quality Guidelines (https://support.google.com/places/answer/107528?hl=en).

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 Delivery”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery", or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.
(NOTE: Examples were edited later by Google and Linda updated 2/20 11 PM.)

Some of us were sort of up in arms about this change and predict it will lead to even more keyword stuffing and spammy business names.

The only reason I can see they would want to make this change is due to the fact that a lot of big chains and franchises do add city to the business name to differentiate locations.

Additionally a little known map maker guideline I talked about previously said you could add a descriptor so this I think in part was to get the guidelines to be consistent across both products.

But if it's allowed now, I say run out and do it! It will be a long time before the majority of other business owners (or even some consultants) catch on that it's now OK. So take advantage of this window of opportunity.

HOWEVER, I'm wondering if changing the name in NAP would impact citations.


Just remember you can only add city OR keyword and I don't think adding a long string of keywords would be allowed. A single one only. So for instance if the name is Alpine Services you could add Alpine Services Plumbing but not Alpine Services Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning.
(That's my interpretation of what's allowed anyway.)

What do you think? Anxious to hear the reactions.
 

Scott Rawlins

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Re: GUIDELINE CHANGE - City and Keyword in Places Title Allowed Now

We must've posted at the same time.

I can't believe they're actually doing this! I'm afraid of what spammers and the like will do.

I must say that I'm still shocked. I may have to test it on a client or two.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Scott, yes I was still typing away so didn't see your other post.

Yes, will be interesting to see.

But in a way it will level the playing field. The spammers have been doing it and have not been getting slapped, so now the honest business owners can do it too!
 

Linda Buquet

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Added a concern about citations to my original post. I thought it but forgot to add it in the original post, due to rushing to try to get the news out.
 
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Lots of legitimate online marketing companies in my area have been using Geo indicators (south, downtown, west, city name) in their title pages anyway, and have had no issues.

In regards to the citation effect, who knows. While having 'key' citations is important, I'm finding that they are having a diminishing effect, not necessarily like spammy back links, but I think it's moreso about overall website authority that helps clients rank and having appropriate categories listed in both your places / Google+ local page and directories.

Having said that, I'd like to try it, but I'll wait for someone else to try this out on their own clients :p
 

Linda Buquet

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Maybe we should start referring to NAP as NCorDAP. :p

Name, City or Descriptor, Address, Phone.
 
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What are your thoughts on what effects it could have of changing the business name in Google+ only.

Would it be better to get the NAP identical across all the citation sites and then change the Google+ name?
 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry David, running out door for Physical Therapy. LATE! Back around 7 PST will reply then.
 

Jason

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Very Very interesting. This could change my whole world. I work with several big brands with hundreds of locations. I had been using "Brand Name" on all the Google Local Listings. Now if I can use "Brand Name + Downtown + City" that could change everything.

I am definitely intrigued but I'm not sure how changing all of my listings will affect NAP. I have worked really hard to get identical NAP all around the web and this would be basically un-dooing all that work. Is it worth it? Hmmm...
 

Linda Buquet

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What are your thoughts on what effects it could have of changing the business name in Google+ only.

Would it be better to get the NAP identical across all the citation sites and then change the Google+ name?
I personally would not do ANYTHING right now. (Unless you like extra work and wasted time.)

They have been flip-flopping on this and I don't trust it's going to stick. Flash and I have been discussing at Mike's Let me give everyone a little brief history on this.

We (TCs) raised a stink when we saw in Map Maker guidelines awhile back that it said you could add city or descriptor. We pushed for consistency. Meaning we wanted them to correct the MM guidelines that said a descriptor was OK. Instead they made it consistent by changing the Places guidelines to match the MM guidelines.

MM still says: “Exception: Single descriptor with business location or service offered by the business can be added to the name.”

Then on 1/28 I discovered a guideline change specifically prohibiting KW stuffing.

I joyously broke the news: Places Guideline Change - Stop GEO Stuffing Titles!
(Check it out! I included copies of the old and new guidelines in that post.)

Shortly after I broke the news, I was told it was a mistake and that guideline change was retracted shortly after.

In the thread above Greg AKA Flash said: “Regarding the Map Maker guideline, I did an escalation on that and as a result it’s officially rescinded; we’re just waiting on the guideline to be updated.”

So it sound like they WERE going to change MM and make everything consistently NO KW stuffing. Now it sounds like everything flipped in the other direction and someone in an ivory tower somewhere decided yes city or KW allowed.

At Mike's Greg still seems to think that MM will be changed. It sounds like Google told him is would be.
IF SO, then Places guidelines could change too.

And if they don't? THEN we still have inconsistency and...

You could add city or KW to name. Then you decide to go out and make all your citations consistent. BUT THEN a Map Maker editor gets a hold of your listing, playing by their new revised rules that say NO city or KW - and they edit your listing back to name only.

So I personally think this change is in still in blowing in the wind. I mean you could as a test add city. See if it affects ranking either way. If you go up, then you know the city helped and the inconsistent citations didn't hurt you. If you go down then it could be due to inconsistent citations, then just change it back.

(And I wonder why I feel so dizzy lately!) :eek:

One other little word of warning - not sure if it's still an issue, but in the past I've seen cases where changing the name even slightly causes lost reviews AND sometimes causes the listing to start over in the ranking cycle. So I would proceed carefully, weigh the potential risks/rewards and realize this guideline could possibly be retracted.
 

Linda Buquet

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Now if I can use "Brand Name + Downtown + City" that could change everything.
Jason I think you could use Downtown OR City but not both. That's my strict interpretation anyway.

See my post above before you start changing all those citations.

Maybe test City in name on one as a test and see if it affects ranking.
 

Scott Rawlins

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I tend to agree with Linda as of now. There are just too many unknowns at this point as to how it will effect rankings. As she mentioned, what if they decided to change the MM guidelines back to match up with Places guidelines.

I would love to hear from anyone who has or will be testing this and the results from it. As of now, I, for one, will take the "wait and see" approach.
 

Larry

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Where can I make this change? In Google Places? Do I change Google + also?
 
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Thanks for giving some of the back story on this one Linda.

If it wasn't confusing no one would need to hire us to do it I suppose.
 

Linda Buquet

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Oh dear Larry, you just brought up another good point.

Where to change depends on how you got to G+.

If you created a separate G+ page and manually merged them THEN once you do that you are not supposed to edit in the Places dash any more - only in G+.

If you were auto-upgraded by Google then I believe if you change it either place the change will carry across to both dashboards.

But if you got the new dash and then used the G+ widget to upgrade to + I'm not sure. I assume you could change in Places and the change should flow but I'm not certain.

BUT if you are talking about your own listing I would not even bother because design/marketing/seo companies don't show up in local results usually anyway.
 

racebum

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so, let me get this right, my business name is mountain view carpet care and i operate around hillsboro oregon. there is another mountain view carpet care in washington and california, we aren't related at all

can i now change my business name to mountain view carpet care - hillsboro?

i've also seen some addresses change recently where a SAB use to just be city, state, phone, now it's city, area of city, phone

you might see Hillsboro, Orenco Station {specific area of hillsboro}, 503 xxx xxxx on the side menu.
 

Linda Buquet

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so, let me get this right, my business name is mountain view carpet care and i operate around hillsboro oregon. there is another mountain view carpet care in washington and california, we aren't related at all

can i now change my business name to mountain view carpet care - hillsboro?
Yes that's right.

i've also seen some addresses change recently where a SAB use to just be city, state, phone, now it's city, area of city, phone

you might see Hillsboro, Orenco Station {specific area of hillsboro}, 503 xxx xxxx on the side menu.
Yes it's been like that for awhile, with a neighborhood or area added.
 
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so, let me get this right, my business name is mountain view carpet care and i operate around hillsboro oregon. there is another mountain view carpet care in washington and california, we aren't related at all

can i now change my business name to mountain view carpet care - hillsboro?
But, what benefit will it give you to differentiate from those other none local companies? Might be a better way to use the extra description word...
 

Louis Nava

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I'm wondering if the recent flip flopping has anything to do with the recent flood of older "spammy" geo KW stuffed listings?

Could the haunting of these undesired listings be a clue as to an algo change therefore a guidelines change?
 

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