Local SEO: Google Maps Updates and 'Clarifies' Local Pages Guidelines

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Google has updated its 'Guidelines for representing your business on Google', which lay out best practices for businesses creating local pages on Google Maps.

The update was announced on Monday by Jade Wang, community manager for Google My Business, who posted the following message on the Google Product Forums:

We've updated and clarified our quality guidelines for local pages. Please read the new version here, and, as always, feel free to contact our support team with any specific questions about your account.

Here is a summary of some of the major changes, as spotted by local SEO Mike Blumenthal:

Descriptors are completely forbidden - in other words, you can't change the title of your company within Google My Business for SEO or other purposes.

Google says:

All locations must have the same name unless the business's real world representation consistently varies from location to location."

Businesses should choose the most specific category that applies to them.

Google says:

You should focus primarily on adding the most specific categories for your business; we'll do the rest behind the scenes. For instance, when you select a specific category like 'Golf Resort', Google implicitly includes more general categories like 'Resort Hotel', 'Hotel', and 'Golf Course.'"

If two or more brands are in the same location, one name must be chosen.

Google says:

If your business location combines two or more brands, do not combine the brand names into a single page. Instead, pick one brand's name for the page. If the brands operate independently, you may use a separate page for each brand at this location."

Virtual offices are not permitted.

Google says:

If your business rents a temporary, 'virtual' office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours."

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