What's OK To Use As A Website in Google Places

Colan Nielsen

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In regards to websites and phone numbers, the Google Places Quality Guidelines state:

Website & Phone: Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.

  • Use a local phone number instead of a call center number whenever possible.
  • Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ?refer? users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.
What would be an acceptable website URL to use for a business that doesn't have a website?

Is it acceptable to purchase a domain name and have it re-direct to a local business directory page for that business?

What are options for businesses without websites, other than simply leaving it off?

---------- Post Merged at 10:56 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 10:46 AM ----------

Has anyone used - http://www.gybo.com/
 

Linda Buquet

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Great Q Colan and I don't have a definitive answer. As a general rule though I don't think Google likes redirects. Plus I've seen some sites ranking decent that just use the G+ page and I would think G would prefer that over a directory page on some other 3rd party directory. However I've also seen some of those rank high, so who knows.

But I do have a very hot little tip... it's on my to-do list for a post with examples, etc.

But I've been seeing some #1 ranking listings, in some very competitive markets even that are using... a certain free site, made by a certain huge company we know.

But it deserves it's own post. Could be kinda of a big deal. So let me see if I can get it done today and then will come link to it here. Don't want to take your post totally off topic.
 

David Deering

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Colan, I tend to agree with Linda and think that the website listed on the Local page should be the actual domain and not a redirect. A few months ago, I set up a client's Google+ Local page and I used a different domain name instead of the actual domain just because it was shorter. The shorter domain was 301-redirected to their site. But their rankings in Google were pitiful. When I changed the domain that was listed on their Local page, they started ranking. I can't say for a certainty whether it was because of this change that I made to their Local page, but I can tell you that I had not been doing any type of SEO for them since setting up their site and creating some citations for them.

Of course, this is just one small example, and you can try it out yourself and see, but I tend to agree with Linda that it's best to list the actual domain on the Local page or just not list one if they don't have a site. As Linda said and as I'm sure you've seen, businesses can rank well in local results even if they do not have a website. But I'd push your client to get a site, even if it's just a simple one-page.
 

Colan Nielsen

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Thanks Linda & Dave.

I have also always thought it is a no-no to use a redirect on the Places Page. I do think that Google's guidelines in this regard are pretty vague.

The situation that got me thinking about this is a potential client who has a VERY local business directory (it covers one street of businesses). Most of the businesses don't have websites and I was thinking of the best way to deal with that if we were to manage these businesses Google Places listings.

And yes, Dave, pushing them to get websites is on my mind as well ;)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Linda Buquet

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Lack of clarity in Places guidelines aside... In my training I teach people and encourage them to "THINK LIKE GOOGLE" think like the algo and like the spam filters do.

Think about pure organic and the old days when it became known Google did not like redirects. The reason porn and other bad actors??? joesplumbing.com if it has a redirect COULD be redirecting you to xxxland.com.

The situation that got me thinking about this is a potential client who has a VERY local business directory (it covers one street of businesses). Most of the businesses don't have websites and I was thinking of the best way to deal with that if we were to manage these businesses Google Places listings.
My hot tip could be super hot for this case!!! :)
Will try to work on that post this AM.
 

Phil Rozek

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What I tell people is that if they don't have a website, they're not even at the poker table. This is 2013. There's no excuse. Doesn't need to be pretty, but it does need to exist.

As for what is "acceptable" in the URL field, I've seen businesses that list their Yahoo or YP listings in the Google Places URL field (!). And rank well. But that was a while ago, so for all I know those businesses' Google listings are swimming with the fishes.

I can't help but wonder whether Google would accept a Facebook URL.
 

apolodor

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+1 for Phil's comment. Setting up your own website has become easy as pie. 1. Buy a domain name; 2. Register for a cheap hosting account. 3. Upload a simple HTML template (or a cms) 4. Write a short intro for your business. In Germany it's even easier than that: usually your internet and phone service provider sends you a website package with .DE domain name, hosting and a very easy to use website builder.

Instead of building your business on a subdomain (and maybe even compromising your Google+ Places listing), why not take the safe way? :confused:
 

Phil Rozek

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In Germany it's even easier than that: usually your internet and phone service provider sends you a website package with .DE domain name, hosting and a very easy to use website builder.
Very interesting. Talk about having no barriers to entry (e.g. "I don't know how to build a website" or "I don't know where to get one"). I guess I learn something new every day. Thanks!
 

Flash

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Regarding using something like their Facebook page or using a redirect to a directory. The overall rules for Maps to which all claimed places are also subject state to refrain from third party sites. They aren't explicitly banned, but in practise they are highly discouraged, and both editors and reviewers will remove them all the time. If someone has a poor website and a great Facebook page that they are trying to use, the URL is supposed to be changed to the actual website.
 

David Deering

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Instead of building your business on a subdomain (and maybe even compromising your Google+ Places listing), why not take the safe way? :confused:
The fact is that when you have your own website, you OWN it. True, you have to pay for the domain name and hosting, but you essentially own a piece of the web. You can't say that when your site is on something like Blogspot. And if Blogspot happens to go away one day, your site and all of the work you've put into it disappears. Not to mention any backlinks, too. It's very cheap to buy a domain name, a hosting account costs only a few bucks a month, and there are many free templates out there, especially for WordPress. It just sends the wrong message about your company when you don't have a website and/or the email address on your business card is "joesplumbingllc@gmail.com". It's really a cheap and easy fix.
 

Flash

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It just sends the wrong message about your company when you don't have a website and/or the email address on your business card is "joesplumblingllc@gmail.com".
Slightly off topic, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when your website is joesplumblingllc.com, but your email is "joesplumblingllc@gmail.com"! Even worse a year or two ago when Google Apps for Domains was free (for up to 50 users).
 

Phil Rozek

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Regarding using something like their Facebook page or using a redirect to a directory. The overall rules for Maps to which all claimed places are also subject state to refrain from third party sites. They aren't explicitly banned, but in practise they are highly discouraged, and both editors and reviewers will remove them all the time. If someone has a poor website and a great Facebook page that they are trying to use, the URL is supposed to be changed to the actual website.
Makes me wonder why Google doesn't just come out and say third-party URLs are not allowed. IMHO, business owners with only (say) a Facebook page are shooting themselves in the foot out of sheer neglect, so I don't have too much sympathy for them. But enough with the unwritten rules already, Google!
 
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Makes me wonder why Google doesn't just come out and say third-party URLs are not allowed. IMHO, business owners with only (say) a Facebook page are shooting themselves in the foot out of sheer neglect, so I don't have too much sympathy for them. But enough with the unwritten rules already, Google!
Facebook pages were allowed because the business controls them and they were public. I think Facebook recently changed the ability for the public to access a Fan Page without signing in.

The Map Maker guidelines are very specific on what is/isnt allowed (see Contact information - Map Maker Help
Website:

Add the home page of the official website for your feature.

If the website has a subpage that is specific to the feature, use that link instead.
The website address is displayed in the information window on Maps.
You can also add official government websites for features like famous parks and landmarks.
Please refrain from entering third-party websites, under construction websites or?websites with?malicious content.
 

Phil Rozek

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Thanks, Andrew! But business owners aren't going to have read the MM guidelines, because maybe 2% of them know about it (and Google doesn't tell them to get familiar with it, either).
 

Flash

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Places is famous for creating guidelines that don't follow the Maps guidelines, because the business owners would prefer the version they are providing. They think they are helping the businesses, but since everything on the map is subject to the Maps guidelines; they are not really helping them in the end.
 

Linda Buquet

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Gregg, Phil, et all,

Partly due to the convo above and partly due to other MM guideline issues that keep coming up more and more lately. I finally did a post on MM guidelines and resources and made it a sticky.

http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/google-map-maker/2591-google-map-maker-guidelines-resources.html

/start rant

I totally agree Phil that SMBs and even consultants don't read the MM guidelines or help docs because they don't realize they even exist, much yet how important they are becoming.

And yes agree Google should either link to MM guidelines...
OR BETTER YET get all the guidelines in SYNC!!!

The inconsistency is NOT fair and wastes EVERYONE'S time including the business owner's. And even if they don't care about that, they should at least care about all the WASTED GOOGLE SUPPORT TIME that happens due to unclear and conflicting guidelines!

/end rant
 

russofford

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I would think that if a business did not have a website, then listing a sub-page of a curated business directory / business profile page would be a perfectly viable solution (as long as it wasn't against guidelines.)

Another thought is that I was amazed recently to see several companies in a highly competitive niche rank well in the 7 pack with a 1 page website. So much for creating elaborate websites with large backlink profiles! All you need these days is a legitimate business NAP and a one page website. (Nevermind the businesses that rank with no website.)

I think that if a business has no website, they would have to ask themselves where they would want to direct traffic from their G+ Local listing. What would best represent their company online in this case... an IYP listing or a Blogspot page with all the info a customer might need?

It would make sense to send the clicks to a web property that you control (or can respond to reviews or comments, etc.)... and which you can install traffic analytics. ;)

Russ
 

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