You've probably all seen "Add opening date" in the GMB dashboard, if you haven't then it looks like this:


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When you select the "Add opening date" option, you get this pop-up window:

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Okay, all good at the moment? The "Learn more" clicks though to Google My Business Help and provides this information.

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So where are Opening dates displayed?

Well at the moment I've only spotted them "intermittently" only on Google Maps:

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Trying to see these dates in Google Maps is very rare and at the time of writing I actually couldn't see the New York examples above, so thank you @Amy Toman for the screenshot. Could not seeing them all the time mean it's just another GMB test?

So what's the issue/problem?

It all started after hearing about a call from a client who wasn't happy about their GMB profile displaying a business open date of just 3 years when they had been in business for over 40! Where had this date come from as it wasn't set by us or the business!?

After sorting out the issue it left us with several questions.

Questions

i. Does it impact the client (lawyers) if we don't fill in this field
ii. When it's auto populated where do they source the date from, is it from when the GMB listing went live?
iii. Do you use the years a business has been in operation, or how long they have been at that location?

I poised these questions to some of my local SEO colleagues and received the following answers, which include my own thoughts/findings.

Our Answers

i. No
ii. Not sure where it is sourced, possibly one data source could be the BBB (from some very quick and dirty checks)? Google does not tell us where it is sourced and could be different for different industries.
iii. It depends. If it's a franchise like say McDonalds, they want the date the location opened. But for a SMB, they can use their official opening date, even if they open a second location.

Additional

If a company rebrand or relocate, keep the same date.
Franchise/chain = year the location opened
SMB = year the business opened - thank you @Colan Nielsen

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A great comment from @TomW

"Based on how it's worded in the GMB dashboard and corresponding help article, they're asking for the date the business opened at this specific address. But Google is using this date to populate "years in business" on a business profile. I think most users and business owners will interpret that as how many years the company has been in business, not how long they've been at that location.

I think it's also worth noting that "years in business" can also be found on Local Services Ads, where it is based on when the business started, not when it opened a location at a specific address.
"


From @JoyHawkins

"My vote is go with whatever will help you more because there is no way Google is actually enforcing this policy. Kinda like hours."

So folks, remember to check to see if your date has been set by you or Google in the GMB dashboard, if it's wrong, update it, if you don't want to show it, remove it.

We'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this and if you've seen opening dates for your business appear in maps or on your profile, was it auto-populated or did you set it yourself?

Thank you
 
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I've yet to see opening dates on any maps, either during my work or personal use, but we do add them to all of our listings and have done so for at least two years. It started because we needed to take advantage of the Coming Soon feature for upcoming locations and it made sense to switch that date over to the date of opening after the location went life.

The thing I've been debating over pertains to locations that we acquire and rebrand. The purpose of the location remains the same, it's just being managed under a new brand and by a new company. For those locations, if we acquire the existing GMB listing that has the original opening date of the location, should we change it to the date that our brand took over and 'opened' there, or should we leave it as when the location originally opened for business?
 

AndySimpson

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Great question and I guess "it depends" isn't going to cut it 🙂

My question would be what does the brand/client want to see? If they're happy with the opening date of that location then set to that. Otherwise, taking Joy's comment, "...it's not enforced", so set it to the date you/client think is best for the business. Unless you're a chain, like Starbucks, where setting the date to March 31, 1971 might not be a good idea.
 

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