Google Targets Spammers With New Local Business Listing Guidelines

Google has tweaked its guidelines for local businesses that use the Google Maps Local Business Center. The new guidelines are listed on Google’s Business Listing Quality Guidelines page. On Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz shows both the old and new guidelines, while on his blog, Mike Blumenthal charts the differences between the two versions.

According to Mike’s tracking, there are five new guidelines:

  1. The business name on Google Maps must be your full legal business name.
  2. PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.
  3. A property for rent is not considered a place of business. Please create one listing for the central office that processes the rentals.
  4. Use a shared, business email account, if multiple users will be updating your business listing.
  5. If possible, use an email account with a domain that matches your business URL. For example, if your business website is, a matching email address would be

The first new guideline targets the spamming of keywords in a business name. But it’s problematic in that many local businesses consist of partnerships with legal business names that don’t match the actual business name. As is suggested in the comments on Mike’s post, Google Maps should allow the use DBA names, not only legal business entity names. And if they do allow DBA names, the guidelines should explicitly say as much.

Either way, Google’s heavy reliance on keywords in the business name as a ranking factor means that companies will continue to benefit from generic names like “Spokane Auto Repair” and “Tucson Dry Cleaning,” and continue to try to game the system with keywords and category names in their business listings.

The second new guideline targets businesses that either a) don’t have a physical location, but use a PO box address to get a local business listing, or b) have a physical location, but try to get additional listings in nearby towns by using PO box addresses.

The third new guideline appears to specifically target real estate and property management businesses that list properties as unique business locations in the Local Business Center.

The last two new guidelines are listed as “Best Practices” and don’t really address the long-running spam and gaming problems that have plagued Google Maps and the Local Business Center. Despite the new guidelines, it’s safe to assume that the spam and gaming will continue … and Google will continue to update its business listing guidelines accordingly.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide