Google's Guidelines


“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” - Albert Einstein

Before you get started with Google Places, let’s review some of Google’s guidelines. Helping you understand what you are getting into will ultimately reduce stress related to getting the most out of Google Places.

Business Listing Quality Guidelines

Although Google has these guidelines, there is evidence that there is a relevance factor, so be sure not to add something spammy that could damage your reputation and relationship with Google.  However, there are many things to consider when you are starting off.  For example, if your business is named Ted and Sons, L.L.C. and it’s a car repair shop or if your business is called Five Guys L.L.C. and is a hamburger restaurant, you need to, or may already have considered the following:

1.  Your company name might not include your keywords.

So what should you do?

Be as consistent as possible.  Ted and Sons, L.L.C. becomes Teds Car Repair Shop and if Ted specializes in Imports, add Imports to the name.  That would make it Teds Import Car Repair Shop.  Make your website include the same text name as your Google Places page and Google will not red-flag it.  Do not add the brands you work on.  It’s important to be consistent.  

Why does this matter?

Your Google Places page find-ability relies on your awareness of what keywords your customers use to find your business.  Those values are used to augment your listing page so to not red-flag your listing but also need to be consistent with your website site or you might have problems.  If you are concerned, change your website first. If your website name does not match the Google Places name, it's certain your website will be flagged.
2.   Your description will need to be optimized over time.

Why do I care about this?

There’s more about this in the tracking segment of the book - Chapter 5, but Google will provide what keywords users are typing to find your local business location.  You’ll need to monitor this list for trends and for words you may have not considered when writing the description.  Add those keywords to your description or attributes section and test carefully.

Google Places Account

Google Places limits ownership of Google Places Pages to business owners or authorized representatives.  It’s best to use an email address to register your Google Places Page that includes your domain name.  If your company is, then use something like

Business Listing

Name - Do not include marketing jargon or taglines.  Do not include phone numbers or URLs unless they are part of the name. 1-800 flowers and come to mind.

Location - Use the exact address.  Do not create more than one listing for each business location.  Businesses that operate in multiple service areas should only include one listing and add service areas to your Place Page either by City, St or Zip code.  Businesses with multiple specializations should only create one listing and list the specialities.  Do not include information in the address line that does not pertain to your business’s physical location.

Website & Phone - Use the most direct phone number that customer can use to reach your staff as quick as possible.  Use a local number verse a call center or 1-888 number.  Do not include false phone numbers or web page urls that take users to landing pages which show other numbers. It's best to use the phone number on your existing website for best results.

Categories - Provide at least one category for the suggestions provided when entering your new Google Places account.  Categories should include what your business is (Restaurant), not what it does (Serve Food) or things it sells (e.g. Apple products or printer paper). Currently, Google allows 5 categories. Since there is evidence that completing the data entry portion of your Google Places account after it's been authorized improves the quality, so resist the temptation to add all the categories that best suits your business until that point.

Custom Attributes - According to this Google support document, Google no longer allows for free-form custom attributes. And, in fact, Google is planning on removing all the custom attribute ever entered in the coming months.

Here's the official response from Google's support page.

The bulk upload tool previously used a different set of category standards. Free-form categories are no longer supported. Numerical codes and categories from the previous list will be recognized as valid inputs for now, but will eventually be unsupported.

Note ** Thank you Robert Gluyas for asking about custom variables so I could research custom variables and update the book with the information they are no longer available for use. **

Additional Fields - Google offers many additional fields to identify your businesses. Latitude and Longitude, store code, address line2, alt phone, mobile phone, fax phone, home page, email, and hours of operation are all included.
Latitude and longitude are the geographic coordinates that describe a place’s exact location. Using the earth's equator line as a reference, latitude is measured north and south. Longitude is measured east and west of the Greenwich meridian line. With Google storing the latitude and longitude of your office, they can now geolocate customers location to confirm they are at your establishment. This technology could be used to validate coupons or specials deals.

Store codes include the ability to differentiate all your store locations, if you have more than one. They must be unique and 60 or less characters in length.

Address line 2 is included in Google places for business quality guidelines, so if you have an address 2 please enter it. The guidelines suggest - If you need to specify a mail box or suite number within your physical location, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your mail box or suite number in Address Line 2. [3]

Ineligible Business Models - There are certain business models which are ineligible for a Google Places Page.  Those that are in construction and not available, rental or sale properties, such as vacation homes or vacant apartments, are not eligible for a listing of Google Places.  Instead, create a listing for the central office that processes the sales.  Google also lists that they reserve the right to suspend any Google Places Page and will work with law enforcement if the violation is unlawful.
Clarifying Your Business Model, According To Google -   Thanks to Google Places Help Forum Top Contributor, Mike Blumenthal, I feel that I have arrived at a fairly clear understanding of how Google is now classifying different business models. I'd like to pass this information on in hopes that it will help you determine whether your business needs to hide its address on its Place Page. [3]

Type A - Your business is brick-and-mortar and serves all customers at its location. Show your address.

Type B - Your business is home-based and serves some customers at your home and some on the road. Show your address and use the Service Radius tool.

Type C - Your business is home-based and does not serve any customers at your home. Hide your address.

Google Places Setup
Start at  The page, as of writing this document, appeared like the following:

As you can see, they removed the business kit and added some pretty pictures for the Google Places mobile app and Google Places for business promotion.  They are still branding the service with the red location icon which was first seen in Google Maps. After another few weeks of writing they dropped the HotPot name and updated the homepage again. Here it is.
Once again, they have changed the page. Showing off the new rating service and stating the importance of getting found on Google Places.  


Obtain Google Places Setup Checklist from Appendix D

Using the checklist from Appendix D, fill it out while reading the next chapter which is an over view on every question.  For those you cannot answer, be sure to jot them down on a future action plan list to get those specific question(s) answered or certain media assets organized. Whatever it takes to make sure you get everything on the list will only increase your chances of success.
Chapter 3 References -

[1] -


When filling out the Google form to get your Google Places site associated with your email, please fill out the information as honestly and completely as possible.  

Buy the $9 dollar checklists, and there's some suggested methods on how to approach this step that will save time and make sure you complete the task correct on the first try  How much is your time worth?