Google Is Even Confused By Their Google Places Guidelines

Jan 31, 2013 • 8:29 am | comments (20) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Maps

Google Places LogoThere is a thread at the Google Business Help forum, a forum devoted to helping business owners with their local listings in Google Places / Google Maps.

The thread talks about the policy of a doctor who practices in two different offices, with two different numbers - should that doctor have one Google Local / Places listing or two, one for each location?

We already know they currently need to have a unique phone number per location but should they have a unique Google+ Local listing per location?

Google doesn't even know the answer to this.

One Google Maps expert said you do not need a second Google+ page, and in fact, it is against Google's guidelines to do so. Jade Wang from Google said she isn't sure about that and needs to look deeper into the issue.

Jade from Google said:

@Flash -- I don't necessarily agree. Can you point me to the references you are using to make the statements about one practitioner with multiple locations?

The Google Maps expert said:

The Places quality guidelines state "You may create one listing per practitioner".

Places help states "Even if you're a doctor who is a cardiologist and a chiropractor or a service that covers multiple towns, you shouldn't have two listings."

But Googler, Jade responded:

Hey all -- we are working on clarifying the guidelines for scenarios like this. Please sit tight, and I'll come back with an update as soon as I can.

So something is brewing, policies may be changing.

Forum discussion at Google Business Help.

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01/31/2013 02:39 pm

I read the guidelines in a way, different from the one Flash does. He cites just part of the rule. The whole rule is: "Businesses with multiple specializations, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties. You may create one listing per practitioner, and one listing for the hospital or clinic at large." As you can see, the rule talks specifically about specializations, not locations. The rule means that one practitioner, even if he/she specializes in cardiology and podiatry (for instance) cannot create separate listings for each specialty. However, you CAN create separate listings for the practitioner and for the clinic/practice. This means that if the practice has two physical locations, the practitioner would also be allowed to have two listings - one for each location.

Kevin Mullaney

01/31/2013 05:12 pm

Exactly right a great point! You should use as many listings and locations as you can, as long as you've got a physical location, phone number etc. than that's fine. Google does need to get it's act together in the local space in 2013 and I hear there is investment on the way to do just that, they've even introduced the first help line to advice people on verification difficulties. I never thought I would see the day!


01/31/2013 05:28 pm

Google+ Local is not at all friendly to the health care industry. It is not possible to have only one listing for each physical address. Thus the guidelines of Google are not synchronous with the user's mental model of Search. This issue may affect other systems too with different business units within a single postal location.

David Mihm

01/31/2013 10:59 pm

Unique location + unique phone number = unique Google+ SLP. That's what i'd advise this client. If their location signal is strong enough across the ecosystem, they'd never get flagged for spam anyway.

Toni Carreiro

01/31/2013 11:18 pm

This is pretty important stuff for a lot of SMB's especially those that are competing with the large health organizations out there. The whole Google local, places, + thing is ridiculous right now and it really hurts the smaller businesses.


01/31/2013 11:53 pm

I'm with @756401fb1c5be47525ef4f9e07b8fe0c:disqus on this one. I've always advocated one listing per physical address, and have not ever seen any client who's done this get penalized. Whether it's two, six or sixty locations. Every one is a legitimate listing. If they were against Google's TOS, (they're not - only a a crack addict within Google who isn't thinking would claim otherwise), every bank, every chain store, every grocery store, and every other multiple location business in the world would have to be banned.


02/01/2013 12:25 am

It happens. Physical address or not.


02/01/2013 12:32 am

"It happens" you mean getting booted? and when booted, the reason given is "can't have more than one listing"?


02/01/2013 12:48 am

"Physical address?" I suppose if I could get an official response then they could name any number of possible other reasons. Getting an official response is a entirely different story... Sadly the rules are such that any number of perceived violations can get you banned with no hope of a tribunal. To their credit, the jest of what they are aiming for is clear.


02/01/2013 12:49 am

And in many cases when theses judgements are made incorrectly, I have been able to get things corrected. Tenacity helps.


02/01/2013 12:51 am

It hurts, because it has also helped soooo much. Not that I am disagreeing with the mess, but I have to give google credit for all they have given me over the years... But yes, I am feeling the pain.


02/01/2013 12:54 am

I see this rule being applied in many small towns where a local plumber may also run the local A/C service.


02/01/2013 01:15 pm

There is a suite designation within GPB and maps which controls Local+ #justsayin it is possible.


02/01/2013 01:18 pm

as long as it is a unique listing.. he has 3 people answering the phones for local ONLY - A/C HVAC services.. but he has another regional location in the same zip code for national plumbing call center that has 157 operators. unfortunately he also has 83 locations across the u.s. and cannot manage those listings as one unit in Google Local+ using his GPB account because the limit for Google Places locations is.... 49? (tilts head sideways and looks at sceeen, "SRSLY, nobody wants to do google local + correctly that has more than 49 locations?" (except me of course..?) lol


02/01/2013 01:21 pm

#wisdom - authenticity i.e. url with NAP or protocol. =)


02/01/2013 01:24 pm

ditto.. but.. hopefully will be on the phone with them later today and get something started.. =)

Marek Krysiuk

02/01/2013 02:24 pm

Google Places / Google+ Local looks at places little bit like at web pages - invincible power of habit. Businesses with branches, businesses inside larger locations, on different floors on indoor maps, services without addresses covering certain city districts etc. are not handled well enough by Google Places. Here world is still flat.

Jeff Fidler

02/01/2013 05:37 pm

"One Google Maps expert said you do not need a second Google+ page, and in fact, it is against Google's guidelines to do so." When's the last time this person actually setup a Google + account? Users don't have a choice but to have multiple listings for more than 1 location as Google+ doesn't allow you to enter more than one location per profile. Why Google doesn't allow users to enter, or upload, as Places allows, multiple locations is beyond me.


02/01/2013 10:26 pm

Only spammers want to do it right. #oxymoron


02/05/2013 12:23 am

Love the google confusion and the comments below. It's all crystal clear now. :-) I agree with the comments that suggest one Google+ local listing per physical location and phone number should be good with google even if the same practitioner. But as evidenced by the ain't clear..

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