Google has issued new guidelines on the guidelines for representing your business on Google page, specifically around how SEM/SEO companies can represent their clients within Google My Business/Google Maps listings.
The new guidelines don't really seem that enforceable, but it at least sets the groundwork for spammy SEO companies that hold their client's Google Maps business listings hostage.
Google said that "only business owners or authorized representatives may verify and manage their business information on Google My Business." They then listed the "additional guidelines for authorized representatives."
Here it is:
Any individual or company that manages business information on Google My Business for a business that they don’t own is considered an authorized representative. Examples: a third-party SEO/SEM company; a friend of the business owner; an online ordering, scheduling, or booking provider; and an affiliate network provider.
Authorized representatives must:
- Never claim a business listing without express consent from the business owner.
- Never make false, misleading, or unrealistic claims.
- Never use harassing, abusive, or untrustworthy tactics with potential or existing customers.
- Always work directly with the business owner to complete verification. Learn more about verification
- Always ensure that the business owner understands what Google My Business is and where Google My Business data is used. Authorized representatives should share the following resources with the business’s owner:
- Always keep the business owner informed about which actions the authorized representative will take on the business listing.
- Always follow Guidelines for representing your business on Google. Note that the phone number and website for a listing should always be the single, authoritative phone number and website for the business and be verifiable by the business owner. Website content must be owned and managed by the business owner.
- Always respond to management access requests promptly, and always transfer listing ownership to the business owner immediately upon request. Authorized representatives must, whenever possible, encourage the business owner to create an account, own the listing, and add authorized representatives as managers. Learn more about transferring ownership
And if you don't follow these guidelines? Google says, "failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the listing and/or account."
So there you have it.
Forum discussion at Local Search Forums.