Google appears to have taken on board complaints from business and ethical SEOers alike about the blatant spamming of its Local Listing facility.
While Google has been pretty tough on cracking down on black-hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing in its traditional search returns (though not tough enough, but that’s another story), the Local Listings have been a haven for dodgy practices of all sorts.
Now Google has released its updated Business Listing Quality Guidelines, setting out the new rules on techniques such as name spamming (creating multiple business names for the same company), location spam (doing the same with locations) and services spam.
Key guidelines designed to tackle these techniques include:
- Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google Maps should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.
- Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
- Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.
- Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
- PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.
- Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service.
Getting tougher on businesses which try to manipulate local listings results will help ethical SEO companies and businesses compete on a more even playing field – and those that have spent their money on getting listed in this way are hopefully about to see the rug pulled from under their “investment”.
More importantly it should help users get the most accurate search results for businesses they are looking for, which is what it is really all about. We’ll watch with interest.