Guidelines for representing your business on Google
Summary: Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are. Creating a successful listing that won’t be suspended requires avoiding prohibited content, accurately reflecting your business and complying with the rest of the policies below.
We've come up with a list of guidelines for local businesses to maintain high quality information on Google. Following these guidelines helps to avoid common problems, including changes to your information or, in some cases, removal of your business information from Google.
For best results using Google My Business:
- Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognised in the real world across signage, stationery and other branding.
- Make sure that your address is accurate and precise.
- Choose the fewest number of categories that it takes to describe your overall core business.
Brands, organisations, artists and other online-only businesses aren't eligible for Google My Business listings.
In order to qualify for a Google My Business listing, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.
There are some exceptions:
- ATMs, video-rental kiosks and express mail drop-boxes are permitted. If you add these locations, then you must include contact information for customers to get help.
- Seasonal businesses (like an ice-skating rink only open in winter months) are eligible as long as they display permanent signage year-round at the location.
The following businesses aren’t eligible for a business listing:
- Rental or for-sale properties, such as holiday homes, show homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.
- An ongoing service, class or meeting at a location that you don't own or have the authority to represent.
Only business owners or authorised representatives may verify and manage their business information on Google My Business. If you wish to share management access to your listing with others, you can add a manager.
Any individual or company that manages business information on Google My Business for a business that they don’t own is considered an authorised representative. For example: a third-party SEO/SEM company; a friend of the business owner; an online ordering, scheduling or booking provider and an affiliate network provider.
Authorised 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. Authorised representatives should share the following resources with the business owner:
- Always keep the business owner informed about what actions the authorised 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. Authorised representatives must, whenever possible, encourage the business owner to create an account, own the listing and add authorised representatives as managers. Learn more about transferring ownership.
Failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the listing and/or account.
Published content should highlight what makes your business unique. You can use this field to provide useful information on services and products offered, as well as the mission and history of your business.
You should be upfront and honest about the information provided, focusing on content that's relevant and useful to your customers to understand your business. Content that's irrelevant to your business or has no clear association with it isn't allowed. Refer to our overall guidelines for representing your business on Google.
Content published in this field should not:
- Be misleading to users. Do not provide inaccurate or false information about your business or the services and products offered.
- Display low-quality, irrelevant, or distracting content. For example, misspellings, gimmicky character use, gibberish, etc.
- Focus on special promotions, prices and offer sale. Examples of content not allowed include, 'Everything on sale, -50%' and 'Best butties in town for £5!''
- Display links. No links of any type are allowed.
- Display offensive or inappropriate content:
- Harassing, bullying or hateful content. Published content must not promote hatred or incite violence against individuals or groups based on ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Content containing obscene, profane or offensive language.
- Terrorist content. We do not permit terrorist organisations to use this service for any purpose, including recruitment. We also strictly prohibit content related to terrorism, such as content that promotes terrorist acts, incites violence or celebrates terrorist attacks. If posting content related to terrorism for an educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose, make sure that you provide enough information for viewers to understand the context.
- Sexually suggestive or explicit content. Content must not include profanity, sexually graphic and offensive slang terms, terms that are common signals for paedophilia, content that promotes paedophilia, bestiality, or sexual violence, or content that promotes escort services or other services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation.
- Display unpermitted content:
- Do not upload content related to the sale of dangerous and illegal products or services.
- Do not upload content that exploits or abuses children.
Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your shop front, website, stationery and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.
For example, if you were creating a listing for a 24-hour coffee shop in Southampton city centre called Shelly’s Coffee, you would enter that business information as:
- Business name: Shelly’s Coffee
- Address: 324 Poppy Street, Southampton
- Hours: Open 24 hours
- Category: Coffee shop
Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended. Refer to the specific examples below to determine what you can and can't include in your business name.
To pick a unique short name, try to use words that represent your business name, brand, location or other description. For example, you can use your business name with your location, like your city or neighbourhood.
Keep your short name simple so you can easily promote it, and customers can remember it.
Throughout the examples below, names or parts of names in italics would not be permitted.
Your name must not include:
- Marketing taglines.
- Not acceptable: "Barclays Bank, Britain’s Most Convenient Bank", "GNC Live Well*".
- Acceptable: "Barclays Bank", "GNC"
- Shop codes.
- Not acceptable: "The Flower Shop – 2872"
- Acceptable: "The Flower Shop"
- Trademark/registered signs.
- Not acceptable: "Burger King®"
- Acceptable: "Burger King"
- Fully capitalised words (with the exception of acronyms) or unnecessary spaces.
- Not acceptable: "SUBWAY"
- Acceptable: "Subway", "KFC", "BHS", "WHSmith"
- Business hours information, including closed/open status.
- Not acceptable: "Pizza Hut Open 24 hours", "Curry's (Closed)"
- Acceptable: "Pizza Hut", "Curry's"
- Phone numbers or website URLs, unless they reflect your business’s consistently used and recognised real-world representation.
- Not acceptable: "Airport Direct 0800 557 8953", "webuyanycar.com"
- Acceptable: "Airport Direct", "0800-Got-Junk"
- Special characters (e.g. %&$@/") or irrelevant legal terms unless they are part of your business’s real world representation.
- Not Acceptable: "Shell Pay@Pump", "Re/Max, LLC", "LAZ Parking Ltd"
- Acceptable: "Shell", "Re/Max", "LAZ Parking", "Toys ’’R’’ Us", "H&M", "TK Maxx"
- Service or product information about your business, unless this information is part of its real world representation or this information is needed to identify a department within a business (see "Departments"). Service information is best represented by categories (see "Categories").
- Not acceptable: "Vodafone 4G LTE", "Midas Auto Service Experts"
- Acceptable: "Vodafone", "Midas", "Best Buy Mobile", "Advance Car Parts", "JCPenney Portrait Studios"
- Location information, such as local area, city or street name, unless it's part of your business's consistently-used and recognised real-world representation. Your name must not include street address or direction information.
- Not acceptable: "Holiday Inn (Ringroad)", "Barclays Bank ATM - Lowe Street Multi-storey Car Park Foyer near Lift", “Equinox near SOHO”
- Acceptable: "Holiday Inn Salem", "U.S. Bank ATM", “Equinox SOHO”, "University of California Berkeley"
- Containment information indicating that your business is located inside another business (whether or not the businesses are part of the same organisation).
- Not acceptable: "Link ATM (in Tesco)", "Apple Store at Stanford Shopping Centre", "Benefit Brow Bar – John Lewis", "Kwik Fit Tyre & Battery (part of Kwik Fit)", "Costa Coffee (inside Tesco Extra)"
- Acceptable: "Chase ATM", "Apple Store", "Benefit Brow Bar", "Kwik Fit Tyre & Battery", "Costa Coffee"
Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location. PO Boxes or post boxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.
- Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location.
- Use the precise address for the business rather than broad city names or junctions. PO Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations.
- Suite numbers, floors, building numbers, etc. may also be included. Information such as cross-streets and nearby landmarks should only be included in regions where the official street address doesn’t accurately pinpoint the business's location.
- If you need to specify a mailbox or suite number within your physical location, please list your physical address in Address Line 1 and put your mailbox or suite number in Address Line 2.
- If your business rents a temporary, "virtual" office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours by your business staff.
- Don't include information in address lines that doesn't pertain to your business’s physical location (e.g. URLs or keywords).
- Do not create more than one page for each location of your business, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
- If your address doesn't have a street number, or you're sure that you've entered the address correctly but the system still can't find it, you can pin your business's location directly on the map by following these steps.
Service-area businesses – businesses that serve customers at their locations – should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point. Service-area businesses can't list a "virtual" office unless that office is staffed during opening hours.
Some businesses, like pizzerias that have both have restaurant seating and deliver pizza to customers, are hybrid service-area businesses. These businesses can show their shop front address and designate a service area in Google My Business. If you serve customers at your address and want to set a service area, your business location should be staffed by your team and able to receive customers during its stated hours.
Google will determine how best to display your business address based on your business information as well as information from other sources. Learn more about service-area businesses.
Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, or provide one website that represents your individual business location.
- Use a local phone number instead of central, call centre helpline number whenever possible.
- Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or "refer" users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business, including pages created on social media sites.
- The phone number must be under the direct control of the business.
- Additional phone numbers can be used on Google My Business websites and other local surfaces.
Provide your regular customer-facing hours of operation. If applicable, you may use your current seasonal hours as your regular hours. You may also specify special hours for particular days, like holidays or special events.
Certain types of businesses shouldn’t provide hours, including those with varied hours (like schedules for different types of activities, including showtimes, worship services or classes) and those that operate only by appointment. Examples of business that shouldn’t provide hours include, but are not limited to: hotels and motels, cinemas, schools and universities, transportation services, airports, event venues and natural features.
If your business has departments (see “Departments”), provide the opening times for each department in that department’s separate listing, and provide the opening times for the main business on the main business’s listing.
Multiple sets of hours
If your business has multiple sets of hours, refer to these guidelines for particular industries:
- Banks: Use lobby hours if possible. Otherwise, use drive-through hours. A cash machine attached to a bank can use its own separate listing with its own, different hours.
- Car dealerships: Use car sales hours. If hours for new car sales and pre-owned car sales differ, use the new sales hours.
- Petrol stations: Use the hours for your petrol pumps.
- Restaurants: Use the hours when diners can sit down and dine in your restaurant. Otherwise, use takeaway hours. If neither of these is possible, use drive-through hours, or, as a last resort, delivery hours.
- Storage facilities: Use office hours. Otherwise, use front gate hours.
If your business has seasonal hours, use the following guidelines:
- During the season in which your business is open, set your regular hours of operation. You can set special hours for public holidays, temporary closures or other events.
- You can also indicate that your business is open only for a specific seasonal period in your business description.
- During off-season, contact support to have your business marked as temporarily closed. Alternatively, you can mark your business as permanently closed during this period.
- Set your regular opening hours when your business reopens.
Categories help your customers to find accurate, specific results for services that they’re interested in. In order to keep your business information accurate and live, make sure that you:
- Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.
- Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.
- Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
- Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business.
Select categories that complete the statement: "This business IS a" rather than "this business HAS a ." The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services that it offers, products that it sells or amenities that it features.
You should focus primarily on adding the most specific categories for your business. We'll do the rest behind the scenes. For instance, when you select a specific category like 'Golf Resort', Google implicitly includes more general categories like 'Resort Hotel', 'Hotel' and 'Golf Course'. Feel free to skip adding any category that seems redundant with a more specific category that you selected. If you can't find a category for your business, choose one that's more general. Google can also detect category information from your website and from mentions about your business throughout the web.
- "Papa John’s" offers pizza takeaway and delivery but does not offer on-premises dining. It should use the category "Pizza Delivery" and additional category "Pizza Takeaway" (instead of the less specific "Delivery Restaurant" or "Takeaway Restaurant").
- "Navy Federal Credit Union" should use the category "Federal Credit Union" (rather than the less specific "Bank").
- "Super 8" is a motel with an onsite swimming pool. It should use the category "Motel" rather than "Hotel" and should not include "Swimming Pool" as a category.
- "24 Hour Fitness" should choose the category "Health Club" (and not its amenities "Gym" or "Swimming Pool").
- 'A1 Cheque Cashing' should use the category 'Cheque Cashing Service' (rather than the less specific 'Banking and Finance').
- 'Wendy’s' is a fast-food hamburger restaurant that also offers some desserts on its menu. 'Wendy’s' should choose the category 'Fast Food Restaurant', and the additional category 'Hamburger Restaurant', but not use the category 'Dessert Restaurant'.
If your business contains another business that your organisation doesn't own and operate, only use categories that represent your business.
- "Costa Coffee", which has the category "Coffee Shop", is operated inside "Waterstones", which has the category "Book Store" (and does not have the category "Coffee Shop").
- "Cardtronics ATM", which has the category "ATM", is operated inside "Spar", which has the category "Convenience Store" (and does not have the category "ATM").
- "Nobu" has the category "Restaurant" and is operated inside "Hard Rock Hotel", which has the category "Hotel" (and does not have the category "Restaurant").
The following types of co-located businesses should each have their own page. If you need to use both categories for the same business location, then create two pages instead. Make sure that you use a different name for the second business (also see "Departments").
- A Restaurant/Cafe/Bar inside a Hotel/Motel
- A Pharmacy inside a Supermarket/Grocery Shop
- A Petrol Station next to a Supermarket/Grocery Shop
There are two kinds of menu:
- A menu for an eating and drinking establishment (such as restaurants or cocktail bars) that lists the complete set of food and drink items that are available at the business.
- A menu for a service business such as a barber, spa or vehicle repair shop that lists the complete set of services that are available at the business.
- The menu should be representative of the items and services that are available for customers at the business. Full menus can be meal-specific (such as breakfast, lunch or dinner) and have links to other menu pages. For example, you may choose to link to your business’s dinner menu, which in turn may include links to the breakfast and lunch menus.
- Sample menus that only list “popular items” (or similar excerpts) should not be submitted.
- Menu URLs can’t be direct links to third-party ordering or delivery services.
- Third parties that manage listings on behalf of clients must notify and have the consent of the business owner to submit a menu URL for a business.
Chains, departments and individual practitioners
Chains and brands
Maintaining consistent names and categories across all of your business locations helps users to quickly identify your business on Google Maps and search results.
All locations must have the same name unless the business’s real world representation consistently varies from location to location. All locations must also have the same category if they provide the same service.
All business locations within the same country must have the same name for all locations. For example, all Home Depot locations should use the name "The Home Depot" rather than "Home Depot" or "The Home Depot at Southampton".
There are two exceptions to this policy:
- If you have multiple types of business – sub-brands, multiple departments or various types of operations such as retail and wholesale – these distinct entities may also have a distinct name so long as it is consistently applied to all the locations of that business.
- Acceptable name variations: "Tesco Superstore" and "Tesco Express"; "Monsoon" and "Monsoon Accessorize"; "Gap" and "babyGap"
- If some of your locations consistently use a different name in the real world – on their shop front, website, stationery etc. – then these locations can use this different name.
- Acceptable name variations: "Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco" and "Intercontinental New York Barclay"; "PFK" (for locations in Quebec) and "KFC" (for locations in the US and rest of Canada)
All the locations of a business must share the one category that best represents the business. If you have multiple types of location (e.g. sub-brands, multiple departments or various types of operations such as retail, distribution centre and office), this rule only applies within each of these sub-groups.
- All "Gap Kids" have the category "Children’s Clothing Shop"
- All "Goodyear Auto Service Centre" have the category "Tyre Shop"; they also all have the category "Auto Repair Shop"
- All "PetSmart" have the category "Pet Supply Store"; some locations may have other categories ("Pet Store", "Dog Day Care Centre")
Two or more brands at the same location
If your business location combines two or more brands, don't combine the brand names into a single listing. Instead, pick one brand’s name for the listing. If the brands operate independently, you may use a separate listing for each brand at this location.
- Not Acceptable: "KFC/Taco Bell" or "Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins"
- Acceptable: "Taco Bell", "KFC", "Dunkin’ Donuts", "Baskin Robbins"
If your business sells another business brand’s product(s) or service(s), use only the name of the business, excluding the name of the brand being sold, which can't have a listing for this location.
- Not Acceptable: "Rymans/Staedtler", "Steve’s Tyres/Firestone"
- Acceptable: "Rymans", "Steve’s Tyres"
However, if the business location is an authorised and fully dedicated seller of the branded product or service (sometimes known as a "franchisee"), you may use the underlying brand name when creating the listing.
- Acceptable: "EE Authorised Retailer", "Shell Oil Local Distributor"
Your business may be eligible for rebranding if:
- You make a minor name change
- You have multiple locations and the business name changes
If your business meets the rebranding criteria above, you can update your business name by editing your business information.
If your business changes its name but doesn't meet the criteria above, then it's considered a new business. You'll need to mark the existing business listing as closed, then create a new listing using your new business name.
If you encounter any issues with rebranding, please contact us.
Departments within other businesses, universities or institutions
Departments within businesses, universities, hospitals and government institutions may have their own listings on Google.
Public-facing departments that operate as distinct entities should have their own page. The exact name of each department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments. Typically such departments have a separate customer entrance and should each have distinct categories. Their hours may sometimes differ from those of the main business.
- Acceptable (as distinct listings):
- "Spring Gardens Optical Centre"
- "Cafe Nero"
- "Manchester General Hospital Department of Dermatology"
- Not acceptable (as distinct listings):
- The Apple products section of PC World
- The hot food bar inside Meadowhall
For each department, the category that is the most representative of that department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments.
- The main business "Barclays" has the category "Bank" whereas the department "Barclays Advisors" has the category "Financial Consultant"
- The main business "Southend Toyota" has the category "Toyota Dealer" whereas "Southend Toyota Service & Parts" has the category "Auto Repair Shop" (plus the category "Auto Parts Shop")
- The main business "GetGo" has the category "Convenience Store" (plus the category "Sandwich Shop") whereas the department "GetGo Fuel" has the category "Gas Station", and the department "WetGo" has the category "Car Wash"
Individual practitioners (e.g. doctors, lawyers, estate agents)
An individual practitioner is a public-facing professional, typically with his or her own customer base. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners and insurance or estate agents are all individual practitioners. Listings for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).
An individual practitioner should create his or her own dedicated listing if:
- They operate in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own listings.
- They are directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours.
A practitioner shouldn't have multiple listings to cover all of his or her specialisations.
Multiple practitioners at one location
If the practitioner is one of several public-facing practitioners at this location:
- The organisation should create a listing for this location, separate from that of the practitioner.
- The title of the listing for the practitioner should include only the name of the practitioner, and shouldn’t include the name of the organisation.
Solo practitioners that belong to branded organisations
If a practitioner is the only public-facing practitioner at a location and represents a branded organisation, it's best for the practitioner to share a listing with the organisation. Create a single listing, named using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].
Acceptable: "Arnedale: Joe Miller" (if Joe is the sole public-facing practitioner at this Arnedale-branded location)
Other items of note
Fraudulent or illegal activities aren’t tolerated on Google and may result in account suspension and removal of business information from search results.
Any promotion, marketing, contests or other giveaways should clearly link to the terms of the activity and provide clear guidelines and qualifications. All such promises, given or implied, should be adhered to.
Note: Google reserves the right to suspend access to Google My Business or other Google Services to individuals or businesses that violate these guidelines, and may work with law enforcement in the event that the violation is unlawful.