Linda Buquet

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StopGeoStuffing.jpg

I got an alert last night that the Google Places Guidelines changed - For the Better IMO!

It's always been against the rules to add city or keywords to the business name on the Places listing. However violating that guide also helps ranking. So therefore many people do it anyway.

The MapMaker guidelines are inconsistent and blatantly say you can add city or keyword to name.

"A name should not include: Description or contact information. Exception: Single descriptor with business location or service offered by the business can be added to the name"

So those of us that are TCs raised the issue with Google and asked for there to be more clear and consistent guidelines, so when we tell folks in the Google Business forum adding city to business name is not allowed, we have something to back us up. Well I guess so far they have not been able to get the MM guidelines changed but it looks like they just amended the Places Guidelines to clearly specify that adding city to name is not allowed.

Here are the old and new guidelines with the changes highlighted in red.


NEW PLACES GUIDELINES

Business Name: Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world.
  • Do not include marketing taglines in your business name.
  • Do not include phone numbers, store codes, city names, or URLs in the business name field, unless they are part of your business name.
  • Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business in the business name field.

PREVIOUS PLACES GUIDELINES

Business Name: Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world.
• Do not include marketing taglines in your business name.
• Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name field, unless they are part of your business name.
• Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business in the business name field.[/COLOR]


I just had one of the consultants I trained, who was having a hard time getting a big franchise to rank, tell me he had talked to several "industry pros" who all told him to add city to each location.

It's easy to think it's OK, and it was hard to convince business owners and consultants alike it's not allowed, if it's not even in the guidelines. So I'm really glad it's spelled out.

Now the next step is to get them to enforce it. I reported this blatant spam back in September and it was never removed. That Chiropractor has like 30 violations including GEO stuffing and KW stuffing on multiple spammy listings. But now at least I can point MM volunteers and editors to a guideline that clearly prohibits adding city to business name.

Off to tell Google thanks!

StopGeoStuffing.jpg
 

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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.
 

Linda Buquet

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Keenan in an email thread we have going with Google, asked me how I was alerted to the change.

I set up a script that watches for any changes to that page. :)

And I save copies of the page so I can compare if anything changes.
 

Linda Buquet

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I was just informed the guideline change I noticed was published in error and is being reverted.

I guess I caught someone pulling the trigger before getting final approval. The store code part will stay.
The city in title will be removed for now until everyone decides and agrees on policy.

In fact I just checked and it's already been changed.

:( is all I can say...
 
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Thanks for the post Linda. Even if brief. Recently we have been taking the Cities out of some of our clients that had old SEO in place. I was concerned when taking out the City name and since doing so have seen no change in ranking. From my experience I have not seen anything change from leaving it or taking it out. I guess it's one of the gray areas of places.
 
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Based on some of the changes I've been seeing (you too Linda?) for queries with regional identifier and lack of 7 pack appear in SERPs do you think they might start penalizing those that do have cities or keywords in their Google+ / Places listings?
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks for the post Linda. Even if brief. Recently we have been taking the Cities out of some of our clients that had old SEO in place. I was concerned when taking out the City name and since doing so have seen no change in ranking. From my experience I have not seen anything change from leaving it or taking it out. I guess it's one of the gray areas of places.

Interesting... Thanks for sharing that Dusty. It often seems to me that it gives a ranking boost.

Based on some of the changes I've been seeing (you too Linda?) for queries with regional identifier and lack of 7 pack appear in SERPs do you think they might start penalizing those that do have cities or keywords in their Google+ / Places listings?

We've been telling Google to reduce or eliminate KW/City in name as a ranking factor. I think certainly if it's not really part of name and just added on, it should not be and should even give that listing a ranking penalty.

Even if the name legitimately has always been Denver Plumbers, that does not mean they are better than Alpine Plumbing, so IMO it should not be part of the ranking algo. However I suspect because of the way query matching works the 1st is still going to get some type of preferential treatment.
 
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We have often thought this as well, but with a few clients we are starting to nitpick things. We decided to give it a try and nothing has happened. We based it off of Google Guidelines: "Business Name: Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world.". Believe me, I was nervous taking it out as Ive been working hard to get these clients back in the pack, which I did. I'm not saying its good for every situation, but in the few situations nothing has been effected. Thank Goddess!

Interesting... Thanks for sharing that Dusty. It often seems to me that it gives a ranking boost.
 
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