jsherloc

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Hi guys, I haven't been involved much in the "local" side of things for awhile now, so I've got a few questions to ask you all.

A friend is opening up his State Farm agency office and I'd like to help him out. OF COURSE, after doing some reading on this specific topic on here and elsewhere on other blogs and on the official Google forums, NOTHING is ever clear with Google. Sigh...so that much hasn't changed.

I read the following thread here:

http://localsearchforum.catalystema...connected-listings-google-search-results.html

Flash (Google Map Maker) states: "I have some good news for you. I sent your issue to an escalations team asking them what the best was that we could do for you and they discussed it among the entire team. They have replied that for these single professional locations they will allow the specific format of "State Farm - [agent name]<agent name="" style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">". The hyphen is necessary as a separator.

They would need to all follow this convention, and they cannot use the world "Insurance" as that would be a descriptor (ie. keyword stuffing). Instead, this should be indicated by using "Insurance Agency" as the category.

Be aware that this has been determined by applying the current policies that are in place and finding the allowable solution that came as close as possible to what you were attempting. Some time back I esculated the entire issue of professional listings versus business listings, and apparently I sparked a large discussion within Google that was going to multiple offices and quite high up the chain. While this usually means it will be quite some time for resolution, we could, as a result, see an overall policy change in the future."</agent>

While here:

http://localsearchforum.catalystema...s-talk-about-listings-insurance-agencies.html

Joy (company she works for has lots of State Farm clients) states a month later in March 2013: "This scenario has already been discussed at lengths. State Farm agents, along with other captive agents like Allstate, Geico, Farmers etc only sell for 1 company. Their business name on their business license includes the words State Farm. I already cleared it with Google that appropriate business titles for these agencies would include titles like:

State Farm Insurance - John Doe
State Farm Agent - John Doe
State Farm - John Doe
John Doe State Farm

etc."

---

So am I correct in assuming that for the business name in the Google Places listing if I go with:

"State Farm - John Doe"

... I should be alright? It seems like this is the most recent/close to the source information I could get on this topic. Joy states that she has always gotten all those other business name variations for State Farm agents approved by Google, but I might as well use the specific format that Flash states works for Google Local AND it will not cause any issues with the Map Maker team, or any future issues with kw-stuffing "Insurance" in the business name etc. Am I on the right track here?

So, "State Farm - John Doe" is the business name listing that I should use going forward with State Farm agents that have opened their own offices/business addresses?

Another issue I've been reading about is Google using the corporate website URL sometimes. Has anyone working with insurance agents had this issue come up? I know the one agent I am speaking to will be using "JohnDoe.com" as his marketing URL that redirects to his internal page on the corporate State Farm site. Any issues with using easy-to-remember domain names that redirect to the corporate page? The corporate pages State Farm provides are extremely long URL's and are not practical at all for sharing and marketing purposes, so it seems like most insurance agents just use "TheirName.com" or similar and then have it redirect to their corporate page. I transferred JohnDoe.com to State Farm's marketing department that handles the domains, as they handle the redirect apparently.

I just don't want to wake up one day and find out that Google Local is using the corporate "StateFarm.com" as the primary URL for this guy's local listing, as that would be sending all of his potential local online leads AWAY from him. Visitors need to see and click on "JohnDoe.com" so they can be redirected to his specific lead generation page/request a quote page that is an internal page located on StateFarm.com.

I also thought I noticed Joy mentioned that SF Agents are not allowed to use the social aspect of G+ business pages, but they can have a G+ business listing? Is that correct or something like it? I assume we can create a G+ business page for the agency business, but then do we just not use it? Can the agent actively use their personal G+ page for any sort of marketing, or is that a no-go too?

I do not envy any of you that have to deal with this local stuff on a consistent basis. I'm REALLY hoping to not get dragged in too deep down the Google Local rabbit hole at this point as I've got a lot of other projects going outside of the almighty Google, so any ideas or experiences would mean A LOT and thank you in advance if you've got something to add.

Any further clarification on the business name formats etc since those discussions happened here earlier in the year?

I figured there has got to be a lot of folks coming here that work with insurance agents that could use this type of clarification in the coming months too. I did a lot of research looking up State Farm agents throughout the country, and their local listings all use a variety of "business names". For example: "State Farm - John Doe", "John Doe State Farm Insurance", "State Farm Insurance - John Doe", "State Farm Insurance John Doe", "State Farm Insurance Agent - John Doe", "John Doe - State Farm Insurance Agent" etc, so it is clear that things are pretty inconsistent out there in the local insurance space...
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Jim,

You've really done your research and lot of thinking before jumping into this one, which is really smart.

As you've already identified sometimes MM is like Mars and Places is like Venus when it comes to the 2 trying to speak the same language. The MM rules and sometimes their interpretation can be overly strict but I guess you can't go too wrong going with the stricter guidelines.

On the other hand Joy AND Colan, who works with Joy and is my right hand man here at the forum are really the experts for Ins agents. Colan will likely see this thread and weigh in tomorrow.
 

Linda Buquet

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I see Colan here now, so hopefully when he has time he can weigh in.
 

JoyHawkins

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"State Farm - John Doe"
- yep this is fine.

"I just don't want to wake up one day and find out that Google Local is using the corporate "StateFarm.com" as the primary URL for this guy's local listing"
> I haven't seen any cases where this has happened with a claimed listing.

"I also thought I noticed Joy mentioned that SF Agents are not allowed to use the social aspect of G+ business pages, but they can have a G+ business listing? Is that correct or something like it?"
Nope, not allowed at all. State Farm just joined G+ on the corporate level recently and the agents aren't allowed on at all.

"I do not envy any of you that have to deal with this local stuff on a consistent basis. "
- I enjoy the challenge :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks so much Joy. I meant to email to alert you to this one but have not had time. Glad you saw it and thanks for weighing in!
 
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