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

Linda Buquet

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Makes sense when said that way Linda - though the reading of Google's explanation, there's an entirely different takeway (multiple people have asked me already this morning if this means they have to build second pages)
Well that's only my common sense gut reaction. If it's a big deal maybe I should ask Google.
 

Linda Buquet

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I didn't know about the photo submission guidelines that say:
"Photos should also be relevant to the business represented by the page. Specifically they should:

Not be merely text, unless it is relevant to the place. For example, the menu of a restaurant or a photo of the storefront with large fonts would be permitted."

I know some businesses that have cover photos that are only text or a picture that's actually just text saying "Platinum Award Winner" for real estate agents.

Is this a new guideline? Or has it always been that way.
Yes it's been like that for a long time. I think in the past they even frowned on logos.
 

Lloyd Silver

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One of the examples specifically allows for the display of educational or professional certifications. So a lawyer could use JD. A doctor could use Dr. Or MD, dds, etc. But attorney John doe would be outside the guidelines unless his corporation was named such.
 

Linda Buquet

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Makes sense when said that way Linda - though the reading of Google's explanation, there's an entirely different takeway (multiple people have asked me already this morning if this means they have to build second pages)
Re the Buick/GMC question, looks like Mike's answer was similar to mine but he went into a little more detail. Sharing here for anyone else that may be wondering.

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

cdawg2610

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Well that's only my common sense gut reaction. If it's a big deal maybe I should ask Google.
Linda if you can work magic that would be amazing - while yours and Mike's explanations make a lot of sense, it's still a leap from those and what Google says - and I tend to air on the side of "If Google doesn't spell it out specifically you can get dinged". The Google wording does put a whole industry in a grey area.
 
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Another small change:

NEW GUIDELINES

a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.

OLD GUIDELINE

Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a local page on Google My Business

____

So added clarification regarding stated hours. That's now the second time stated hours is being addressed in the new guidelines versus the old (the other being virtual offices).
The new guideline on hours is just a clarification. Its always been enforced (at least for the last 2 years) as the guidelines are currently written. They allow for businesses that have a permanant location that aren't always open on a set schedule. They just can't list hours or they're in violation.
 

Jo Shaer

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Gah, just changed a client's name to include a descriptor only yesterday - whilst talking on the phone with the Google rep who agreed it was fine to do.

However, the previous Name included Ltd so I guess I was damned if I didn't and damned if I did...

Will wait and see how the new change pans out. The result from yesterday was that she jumped from a listing marked as closed to Position A in the space of a couple of hours!
 

Linda Buquet

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So as I read this, even though a business name combines to brands (Buick and GMC for example) Google says now I am suppose to have two pages...
Think it depends on what the real world name and branding is.

If it's always been "Alpine Buick and GMC" then it should be fine. But if there are separate buildings or entrances and different phone #s and they always represent as "Alpine Buick" and a separate dealership is "Alpine GMC" - 2 distinct businesses, then they should have 2 pages.
Makes sense when said that way Linda - though the reading of Google's explanation, there's an entirely different takeway (multiple people have asked me already this morning if this means they have to build second pages)
Linda if you can work magic that would be amazing - while yours and Mike's explanations make a lot of sense, it's still a leap from those and what Google says - and I tend to air on the side of "If Google doesn't spell it out specifically you can get dinged". The Google wording does put a whole industry in a grey area.
Hi cdawg, I just confirmed with Google and it's exactly as I explained in my bolded quote above and the same thing Mike said.

What Google still wants is what they've always wanted - which is for the business to represent themselves on G+ L like they do in the real world. If 2 entrances, different signage, different phone, different staff it should be 2 different pages. If all one company, even though 2 brands like "Alpine Buick & GMC" they should continue to have a single page.

There are always nuances and it's hard to cover every potential use case in a generic doc, but if you think real world - things like: what name is on the sign (check street view to see what a moderator would see), how is the phone answered, how are checks made out - it will help you figure out each case.
 

Linda Buquet

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Search Influence just did a great overview with some good insights.

<a href="http://www.searchinfluence.com/2014/12/old-google-plus-guidelines-go-out-of-business/">Old Google Plus Guidelines Go Out Of Business | Search Influence</a>
 

cdawg2610

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Hi cdawg, I just confirmed with Google and it's exactly as I explained in my bolded quote above and the same thing Mike said.

What Google still wants is what they've always wanted - which is for the business to represent themselves on G+ L like they do in the real world. If 2 entrances, different signage, different phone, different staff it should be 2 different pages. If all one company, even though 2 brands like "Alpine Buick & GMC" they should continue to have a single page.

There are always nuances and it's hard to cover every potential use case in a generic doc, but if you think real world - things like: what name is on the sign (check street view to see what a moderator would see), how is the phone answered, how are checks made out - it will help you figure out each case.
THANKS!! I was actually able to share this with a "reads just enough to be dangerous" client and it was a big help
 

Linda Buquet

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Mike just did a side by side comparison of some of the key guideline changes.

<a href="http://blumenthals.com/blog/2014/12/05/google-my-business-guidelines-a-detailed-comparison-new-old/">Google My Business Guidelines ? A Detailed Comparison New & Old ? Part 1 | Understanding Google Places & Local Search</a>

And above in post #1 I give a downloadable copy of the previous guidelines as well.
 

steven

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From Mike's post:

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.
Got to fix my dentist's pages...
 

Linda Buquet

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FYI that's been sort of an unwritten rule for quite some time and was best practice for minimizing merging. It's also mentioned in the dupe part of training and my minimizing practitioner dupes post.
 

steven

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Yep. That's right. I've been holding off on work for this client so I forgot it was already in the training. Have to go through the training and brush up. Man, it's been a busy year!
 

Sperry7

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Hi Everybody!

If I come across a competitor's local listing and it still has the descriptor listed would you advise I report the listing or submit user edits? If the answer is to report the listng how do I do that :)

Thanks!
 

Lloyd Silver

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I would not.

Personally, I only report obviously spammy listings. "Honest" mistakes (and in this case the person might have exactly followed Google's guidelines in the past and just hasn't updated it) I let slide.

Again, just a personal choice. If I think it's the business owner with minor issues I'm not going to do anything to disrupt their business. I can move ahead of them approximately 100% of the time anyway.

If it's real spammy, or clearly a marketing person doing the wrong things, that's a while other story.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm totally with Lloyd on this.

I've said this to Google - millions of SMBs out there are busy running their business and I bet 90% NEVER read the Google forum or blogs about GMB. So how could they even know the guidelines changed?

I don't think we should report people for a guideline change that was never published anywhere most will see it! If Google thinks it's important enough to put energy into getting all the departments including policy and legal together to put out new guidelines, then it's important enough to let users know and do an email notification OR at least a dash notification.

But like Lloyd said if it's a spammy listing that's obviously pushing the limits, I would have no problem reporting. And I guess it's possible that if I had a client that was leap frogged due to the unfair advantage of having descriptors and I'd tried everything else - I guess I might just do a user edit.
 

rossicone

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But like Lloyd said if it's a spammy listing that's obviously pushing the limits, I would have no problem reporting.
Hey Linda!

How would you go about "reporting" a spammy listing? I've only known how to suggest edits to a listing. Are they one in the same?

Kind of on the same note, do you know how to edit the hours of operation now from the front end of a listing? I noticed when you click on "Edit details" on the actual G+ listing, it brings you to google.com/maps now (I might be late to the game in noticing this) and there is no option to edit the hours. I have a client whose hours are displaying incorrectly, but they are correct in the Dashboard. Would you suggest editing through Map Maker?

And one last question about the guideline update/clarification for doctors :) For single doctor practices, you need to have one consolidated listing with both the practice and doctor's name: "Practice Name: Physician Name." Are we supposed to build out citations using this same format? In the past I've created both practice and doctor listings. I am concerned that some of the data distributors won't consolidate the two listings like Google wants it to be displayed...I've actually already heard from some of my colleagues that this is happening with both Acxiom and Express Update. I'm unsure of how to move forward. What is the point in doing work to clean up & consolidate the doctor/practice listings on sites around the web when in reality they will keep popping up because of the data distributors? Or maybe I am over thinking all of this! :eek::confused::) Would love your advice!

Thank you!!
 

Linda Buquet

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How would you go about "reporting" a spammy listing? I've only known how to suggest edits to a listing. Are they one in the same?
Go to the listing in classic maps - report a problem. There you can edit details but also have the option to say it's a dupe or does not exist if bogus OR use other to explain if more complicated.

Kind of on the same note, do you know how to edit the hours of operation now from the front end of a listing? I noticed when you click on "Edit details" on the actual G+ listing, it brings you to google.com/maps now (I might be late to the game in noticing this) and there is no option to edit the hours. I have a client whose hours are displaying incorrectly, but they are correct in the Dashboard. Would you suggest editing through Map Maker?
No any time you have the correct info in dash but Google is displaying something wrong, I would call support and get them to correct it for you. They are the one that changed it.

And one last question about the guideline update/clarification for doctors :) For single doctor practices, you need to have one consolidated listing with both the practice and doctor's name: "Practice Name: Physician Name." Are we supposed to build out citations using this same format? In the past I've created both practice and doctor listings. I am concerned that some of the data distributors won't consolidate the two listings like Google wants it to be displayed...I've actually already heard from some of my colleagues that this is happening with both Acxiom and Express Update. I'm unsure of how to move forward. What is the point in doing work to clean up & consolidate the doctor/practice listings on sites around the web when in reality they will keep popping up because of the data distributors? Or maybe I am over thinking all of this! :eek::confused::) Would love your advice!
None of this is proven, just my gut and makes perfect sense to me. (Of course it's debatable if the algo always makes sense of things.)

Back when I still worked on Dentist listings, I always naturally did a combo name for solo practitioners. (Unless the practice name made it too crazy long.)

My thought process was, that way we can take credit for all the citations whether they are for practice or practitioner. But even more than that, I hoped it would help eliminate dupes. When Google continued to find citations for one or the other name, she'd hopefully attribute to the combo name listing instead of creating a new one.

So when Google came out with this new guideline I thought it was brilliant and confirms my thinking above. And I'm sure that's exactly why they did it. They realize many directories will list one name or the other, so hopefully the combo name will work as a catch-all.

If it was me, knowing what I know (or think I know) I would not go out and change existing to combo names. And like you said, many won't allow it. As long as they are correct for either NAP I would just leave them alone. And if I were to build new citations I would do them for practice name only. (Assuming that is the most important one to highlight if you had to choose.)
 

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