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Many local businesses, and those involved in local search marketing, have criticized Google for the amount of spam in Google Places (formerly Local Business Listings). Google has addressed these concerns by introducing new Google Places Quality Guidelines.
These guidelines include information on how to avoid using spam techniques in the business listings.
Business name – Google says, “Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world”. They do not want companies to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of their business into the business name. Failure to conform to this guideline can result in a penalty, or being removed from Google Maps.
Physical Locations –Google says, “Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist. PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.” This has been a controversial topic. It is very difficult to appear in top search results outside of the city that is specified in a company’s address. This makes it hard on businesses that serve customers in nearby cities.
Multiple Locations – Google says, “Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts”. Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.
Adhering to these policies will improve the quality of the Places listings overall, and make it more likely that your business will be included in the Local Business Results section (next to the map) of the search engine results page.
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