JoyHawkins

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Phil Rozek posted this article the other day:
<a href="http://www.localvisibilitysystem.com/2016/04/04/the-most-obscure-rule-in-google-my-business-a-nasty-surprise/">The Most Obscure “Rule” in Google My Business - a Nasty Surprise</a>

The "rule" he referred to is one that a MapMaker TC posted back in 2016:

It is important to note that there is only one listing permitted per SAB per urban area and per location.

This rule isn't anywhere in the GMB guidelines and I know I've never heard it referenced before. Have you?
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks so much for getting this one started for me Joy!
(I can talk to type just can't do a lot of copy/paste/format stuff.)

I was a little surprised no one knew about that rule. I've always thought that was the case.
GMB Guidelines

"Businesses that operate in a service area should create one listing for the central office or location and designate service areas."

One of the things I used to teach my training is: Google doesn't spell everything out in the guidelines and you need to learn to read between the lines to understand what they're thinking. OR think about what type of spam they might be trying to prevent even if they just are making a subtle mention of something. (Granted recent guidelines have gotten more and more transparent but this is one thing that still not spelled out as strictly as they mean it, I believe.)

Now if you have a plumbing chain with actual physical locations and offices and warehouse where they keep trucks and parts then you could probably get away with it and I don't think the rule is meant for that scenario.

The problem, I believe Google is trying to address, and it comes up very often is this… The plumber that sets up additional listings at the home of employees just because they occasionally park the truck there. Or worse yet, set up listings at friends and relatives homes or at virtual offices just to try to get additional listings to try to rank in the surrounding area.

"Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location."

If a single owner/plumber is wkg from home & has 6 employees - his home is where the company physically works out of and so that's the only listing allowed.

Above is me in interpreting the guidelines (reading between the lines) but I'm pretty sure that's correct. We've had it come up lots of times at the Google forum and in private escalations with Google, so I think I'm pretty close.

Open to other thoughts. Did anyone else think this was the case???

Does it make sense or what do you think?
 

JoyHawkins

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I can add that when I was working on removing spam for SEO listings in Toronto that there was one SEO company that did this. They created service-area listings for employees (who all worked from home) and were all in different suburbs of Toronto. I can say with certainty that this is not allowed because they all got removed.

So yeah "Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location." is the rule that trumps them all.
 
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I'm curious how that might affect two SAB businesses in the same vertical with different branding all under the same account. For example, I saw a post on the GMB forum a day or two ago about two magic shops at the same physical location with a different name and a different phone for each. I know in a case like that it's possible you can run into problems since both will have very similar categories... reading Phil's post, it sounded (to me at least) like he might have been having issues with two SABs that weren't even necessarily part of the same company, just both in the same vertical and both owned by the same account. Not saying that was definitely the case in Phil's case, but I wonder if a business owner with two different related SABs with both owned on the same account in the same city will also need to worry about this...
 

Phil Rozek

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I know in a case like that it's possible you can run into problems since both will have very similar categories... reading Phil's post, it sounded (to me at least) like he might have been having issues with two SABs that weren't even necessarily part of the same company, just both in the same vertical and both owned by the same account. Not saying that was definitely the case in Phil's case, but I wonder if a business owner with two different related SABs with both owned on the same account in the same city will also need to worry about this...

Hey James,

In this case it was two locations of the same business, with the same name. But that's a great question you bring up, and one I wonder about, too.
 
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Thanks for clearing that up Phil. Guess I'll just keep my eyes open, yet another potential issue that might come up.
 

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Phil and James, just to clarify, you're wondering about a business owner who has two related businesses in the same city, correct? For example, someone who owns a plumbing company and an HVAC company?

If so, I have a case like this with a client. Two different locations, two somewhat related businesses (construction), two different phones numbers but they are not on the same GMB account.

At one point in time we had them at the same location. One ranked much better than the other and we decided to move the company that was ranking poorly to another address in the same city. Once we did that, the poorly ranked company started ranking better in the local pack but we still had issues with their GMB ranking well. Organic was great and indicated we should have been in the top 3 but we weren't. There were some address issues with old citations but we cleaned those all up eventually. The one day, we shot straight into the 3 pack leap frogging 10-20 businesses in the GMB and accurately reflecting our organic ranking. But about 6 months later, something "dislodged" and we're ranking way down again.

After reading this, I'm wondering if there is a similar issue here that we're battling. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 

Phil Rozek

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Joshua, my understanding of James's question (which I also wonder about) is whether two businesses in the same industry - rather than in related industries - could cause each other problems if their service areas overlap.

Of course, I also wonder about the scenario you bring up, because it raises the question of: when is it OK by Google for service areas to overlap? Is it only a problem if there are two locations of the same business, presumably with the same categories selected? What if they're differently-named businesses, but in the same account, and with the same categories?

Who knows. And the way I see it, it's a non-issue if you just hide the address after verification - if you hide the address at all. Then if one location isn't ranking well, it's probably just a matter of clean citations and of raking in the links and reviews.
 

Linda Buquet

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Classic example of why multiple SAB listings are not allowed, just came up at the G forum. Multiple listings and a suspension...

<a href="https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Verification/1-location-has-been-suspended-for-a-month/m-p/536974#M2392">Re: 1 location has been suspended for a month</a>

If there were 10 plumbers in an urban area and each set up 10 listings at 10 employees homes... Instead of the 10 actual businesses competing, there would be 100. And the poor guy that's playing by the rules and only has a single legit listing could be buried.
 

Phil Rozek

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Hey Linda,

That's spammy, all right, but is different from the scenario I described. In the case I was dealing with, the company actually had two office locations - and they were 25-30 miles apart. Only the service areas overlapped.
 
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