How to properly use Google Places descriptors.


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Google just allowed you to add a Single Descriptor to the business Name, but is taking advantage of this a good thing or a bad thing. Phil makes some excellent recommendations.


How to Use Google Places Descriptors: Some Early Best-Practices

It’s a huge departure from Google’s old policy, which was that you must use your legal or “offline” business name. There couldn’t be any embellishment.

For example, under the old rules, if your business was called “Jones & Jones,” that’s what you had to put in the “business name” field of your Google Places page. Now, it could be “Jones & Jones Roofing” or “Jones & Jones Bankruptcy Law.”
 
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I stripped the RSS off the link so the trackback will hopefully show up over at Phil's too.

Excellent summary Phil. You really covered all the bases!

I especially like and wanted to comment on.

#3. Yes I think good chance this ill fated guideline change will flip.

#4. "Don’t keep messing with the descriptor. No, it’s not set in stone. But any change in rankings will probably take a couple of weeks to happen. Also, for all we know, Google might penalize you for trying on 10 descriptors like they’re pairs of shoes."

Really glad you pointed that one out. I picture spammers tweak, tweak, tweaking, trying to rank and suspect it set off a red flag.

7. "It should be a “keyword” or a city name, but not both. That’s more likely to look spammy to Google."

Actually it's expressly not allowed. Single descriptor only, city OR KW.

As always Phil, love the way you sum things up.

And thanks for linking to my post here on the topic.

Off to share this now!
 
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Phil, with Google guideline changes to not allow descriptors in a business name, and your recent coverage on this change, this post is now outdated.

Here are my insights, I welcome feedback...

1. Add descriptors to a business name, but only if a client is willing to legally change their name or their doing business as (DBA) record. Even so, there could be cases where the name is so stuffed with keywords, Google still bans the business.

2. Descriptors definitely help businesses (albeit spammy and low quality businesses) rank well in Local results. It is similar to an exact match domain in organic.

3. Companies/Agencies should take it upon themselves to flag competitors with descriptors. Don't wait for Google. The process is painless and easy. I outline it in this blog posts here:
3 Ways to Conduct Ethical Negative SEO | Cleverly Engaged
 
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Thanks for posting, yes we have a few old posts about adding descriptors that are now outdated.
Wish I had a big red "She changed her mind" sticker I could put on this post. :p


Here are my insights, I welcome feedback...

1. Add descriptors to a business name, but only if a client is willing to legally change their name or their doing business as (DBA) record. Even so, there could be cases where the name is so stuffed with keywords, Google still bans the business.
I would never recommend doing this personally. The rule does not say legal DBA. It says: "Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers."

So just because you add a word and get a new DBA does not make it the name you've used consistently.

So if it's a mature business with thousands of references on Google for the original name they've always used, even IF they get a DBA it's not going to match and will look fake. When the algo sees the name change and then checks all those matches for the old name all over, I'm not sure she's going to go out and find the DBA records to see if the name change is legit. I think she'll go by "real-world name, as used consistently on..."

Having said all that, she's not penalizing for KW stuffed names and I'm not sure she ever will.

Just saying, I would not advise that strategy. Plus adding KWs could hurt more than help due to the disadvantage of having all your existing citations no longer match.
 

Phil Rozek

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@Corey

Well, of course. The post is from April.

1. If it's part of the business name or part of a legally recognized DBA (yes, there is such a thing), it's no longer a descriptor.

2. Descriptors were much more hit-or-miss for "low-quality" businesses / results. I found that descriptors more consistently moved the needle for businesses that were on the right track with their local SEO anyway. It's similar to how Google has various criteria for deciding whether or not to show rich snippets (e.g. review stars, or until recently authorship) for a given business.

3. I doubt flagging competitors for using descriptors is any more effective than flagging them for other reasons. Google has tuned out on "community edits."
 
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@Phil.

I would respectively disagree on point three. I have been doing this for the last month and have seen great success. Edits have been published in most times, within 24 hours.

See below for an example:

Your edit to the listing for Flashback Data - Dallas has been published. You can view the updated information here .
Thank you for improving Google Maps! Your insights make it a better, more useful map for everyone.

Flashback Data - Dallas
3215 Belmeade Dr, Carrollton, TX, USA
Your edit
Name:
Flashback Data - Dallas
Flashback Data
Your comment
Business is not using correct name, but has added a descriptor (Dallas) - against Google Places Guidelines.
Edited on Dec 27, 2014 ? Published
 

Phil Rozek

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Thanks, Corey. Is there another example you could throw my way? The "Dallas" descriptor is still showing on that page.
 
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You're right. That's odd, after getting an email it was published. That just came through today, so let me monitor it and see if it is permanently fixed in Maps.

Check out my blog post: [link removed by Linda]

I did a before an after test for the term: "Chicago Criminal Defense Firms" with location set to Chicago. Doing a search for the term now, shows many of the same firms that had previously stuffed keywords in their name without descriptors.

Hopefully no one here had clients hurt by my test!
 
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