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Guidelines for representing your business on Google

Summary: Business Profiles 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 Business Profile that won’t be suspended requires avoiding prohibited content, accurately reflecting your business, and complying with the rest of the policies below.

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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 and/or service area is accurate and precise.
  • Choose the fewest number of categories that it takes to describe your overall core business.
  • There should only be one profile per business, as this can cause problems with how your information displays on Google Maps and Search.

Brands, organisations, artists and other online-only businesses aren't eligible for Google My Business Profiles.

Fields

Eligible businesses
Ineligible businesses
Ownership
Business description guidelines
Name
Address
Website and phone
Opening hours
Categories
Menu
Chains and brands
Departments within other businesses, universities or institutions
Individual practitioners
Illegal activities
Marketing, promotions or other contests

Basic guidelines

Tip: If you would like to receive one-on-one guidance and tailored recommendations on how to make the most out of your profile, consider booking an appointment with Small Business Advisors.

Eligible businesses

In order to qualify for a Business Profile on Google, 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. These businesses must display permanent signage at their location year-round.
  • Virtual Kitchens are permitted. Virtual Kitchens are professional food preparation and cooking facilities set up to prepare delivery-only meals via third-party services. They are also referred to as Ghost Kitchens and Cloud Kitchens. A Virtual Kitchen should create their Business Profile as a service area business.
Ineligible businesses

The following businesses are not eligible for a Business Profile:

  • 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.
  • Lead generation agents or companies.
Ownership
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 Business Profile with others, you can add a manager.
Additional guidelines for authorised representatives

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 Profile 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’s owner:
  • Always keep the business owner informed about which actions the authorised representative will take on the Business Profile.
  • Always follow Guidelines for representing your business on Google. Note that the phone number and website for a Business Profile 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 Business Profile ownership to the business owner immediately upon request. Authorised representatives must, whenever possible, encourage the business owner to create an account, own the Business Profile and add authorised representatives as managers. Learn more about transferring ownership.

Failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the Business Profile and/or account.

Business description guidelines

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 is 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, be mindful to provide enough information so viewers 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.
Important: We do not allow content that contains private or confidential information such as personal financial information, government-issued IDs, contact information linked/associated with a name, sensitive records, images, transcripts or links that contain personal information. We also do not allow solicitation of the above information through local posts/business description other than user's own name, email and phone number.

Name

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.

Add additional details like address and/or service areabusiness hours and category in the other sections of your business information. 

For example, if you were creating a Business Profile 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 Business Profile being suspended. Refer to the specific examples below to determine what you can and can't include in your business name.

Learn more

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"
  • Opening 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"

There are additional guidelines for multi-location stores (chains and brands), departments and individual practitioners (e.g. doctors, lawyers and estate agents) below.

Address

Use a precise, accurate address and/or service area to describe your business location. PO boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations aren't acceptable.

Learn more
  • Create your Business Profile for your actual, real-world location.
    • Suite numbers, floors, building numbers and so on may also be included. Only include information like cross-streets and nearby landmarks in regions where the official street address doesn’t accurately pinpoint the business's location.
    • If you must specify a mailbox or suite number:
      • Enter your physical address as 'Address Line 1'.
      • Enter your mailbox or suite number as 'Address Line 2'.
    • If your business rents a physical mailing address but doesn't operate out of that location, also known as a virtual office, that location is not eligible for a Business Profile on Google. 
    • Businesses can't list an office at a co-working space unless that office maintains clear signage, receives customers at the location during business hours, and is staffed during business hours by your business staff.
  • Don’t include information in address lines that doesn't pertain to your business’s physical location, like URLs or keywords.
  • Don’t create more than one page for each location of your business, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
    • Individual practitioners and departments within businesses, universities, hospitals and government buildings may have separate pages. For more info, go to specific guidelines about individual practitioners and departments.
  • If your address doesn't have a street number, or the system can't find it, you can pin your business's location directly on the map.

Service-area businesses

Service-area businesses, or businesses that serve customers at their locations, should have one profile for the central office or location with a designated service area. Service-area businesses can't list a 'virtual' office unless that office is staffed during opening hours.

Some businesses, like auto repair shops that have a garage for repairs and offer road side service, 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 determines how best to display your business address based on your business information and information from other sources.

Shopfront versus service-area businesses

If your business doesn’t have a shop front with clear signage but travels to customers at their physical locations, you’re allowed one service-area Business Profile.

If you have different locations for your service business, with separate service areas and separate staff at each location, you’re allowed one profile for each location. The boundaries of your profile’s overall service area shouldn’t extend farther than about two hours of driving time from where your business is based. For some businesses, larger service areas may be appropriate.

Learn more about service-area businesses.

If you’re a service-area business, you should hide your business address from customers. 

  • For example, if you’re a plumber and run your business from your residential address, clear the address from your Business Profile.

Learn how to Add or edit your business address.

Website & phone

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 a 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.
  • Premium-rate telephone numbers are not allowed. These phone numbers charge high rates to the caller.

Opening hours

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.

Learn more

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 hours for each department on that department’s separate Business Profile, and provide the opening hours for the main business on the main  Business Profile

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. An ATM attached to a bank can use its own separate Business Profile 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.
  • You can also set More hours to highlight times for specific services.
    • Tip: In general, you should set More hours as a subset of your primary hours.

Seasonal 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, you can mark your business as temporarily closed.
  • Set your regular opening hours when your business reopens.

Categories

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.
Learn more

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 it offers, products it sells or amenities 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 such as "Resort Hotel", "Hotel" and "Golf Course". Feel free to skip adding any category that seems redundant and add a more specific category that you selected. If you can't find a category for your business, then pick one that is more general. Google can also detect category information from your website and from mentions about your business throughout the web.

For example:

  • "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 does not own and operate, then only use those 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

Menu

There are 2 kinds of menus:

  • 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.

Learn more

Both kinds of menu must follow the following guidelines:
  • 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 Business Profiles 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.

Get started with Google My Business for chains.

Learn more

Name consistency

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:

  1. 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 locations of that business.
    • Acceptable name variations: "Tesco Superstore" and "Tesco Express"; "Monsoon" and "Monsoon Accessorize"; "Gap" and "babyGap"
  2. If some of your locations consistently use a different name in the real world – on their shop front, website, stationery etc. – 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)

Category consistency

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, do not combine the brand names into a single Business Profile. Instead, pick one brand’s name for the Business Profile. If the brands operate independently, you may use a separate Profile 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 Business Profile 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 Business Profile.

  • Acceptable: 'EE Authorised Retailer', 'Shell Oil Local Distributor'

Rebranding

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 Profile as closed, then create a new Business Profile using your new business name.

Note: If you assume ownership of a Business Profile, you'll first need to have the previous owner add you as an owner and transfer ownership to you.

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 Business Profiles on Google.

Auto dealers and healthcare providers have specific and separate guidelines. Get started with Google My Business for auto dealers and healthcare providers.

Learn more

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 Business Profiles):
    • 'Spring Gardens Optical Centre'
    • 'Cafe Nero'
    • 'Manchester General Hospital Department of Dermatology'
  • Not acceptable (as distinct Business Profiles):
    • 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 'Petrol 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 their own customer base. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners and insurance or estate agents are all individual practitioners. Business Profiles for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr, MD, JD, Esq., CFA).

An individual practitioner should create their own dedicated Business Profile if:

  • They operate in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own Business Profiles.
  • They can be contacted directly at the verified location during stated hours.

A practitioner shouldn't have multiple Business Profiles to cover all of their specialisations. Sales associates or lead generation agents for corporations aren't individual practitioners and aren't eligible for a Business Profile.

Learn more

Multiple practitioners at one location

If the practitioner is one of several public-facing practitioners at this location:

  • The organisation should create a Business Profile for this location, separate from that of the practitioner.
  • The title of the Business Profile 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 Business Profile with the organisation. Create a single Business Profile, 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

Illegal activities

Fraudulent or illegal activities aren’t tolerated on Google and may result in account suspension and removal of business information from search results.

Marketing, promotions or other contests

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.

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