Google My Business third-party policies

Definitions

A 'Third party (3P)' is an authorised agency that manages business information on Google My Business for a business that they don’t own. Examples include: A digital marketing agency; a third-party SEO/SEM company; an online ordering, scheduling or booking provider; an affiliate network provider. For individual representatives (such as family members or friends), see these guidelines.

'End customers'/'clients' are businesses who enter into a contractual agreement with a third party to manage their business information on Google My Business.

Requirements

End customers have the right to expect third parties to act in a fair, honest and transparent manner and in accordance with Google My Business policies. To this end, you must adhere to the following policies. Failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the listing and/or account.

  • Ensure that the end customer understands what Google My Business is and where Google My Business data is used.
  • Inform the end customer about how you'll manage the Google My Business listing. See Transparency requirements for more details.
  • Comply with Google My Business policies.

Once the account is set up, we encourage you to transfer ownership of the listings to your client.

Transparency requirements

For businesses to fully realise the benefits of being found on Google, they need to have the right information to make informed decisions. Therefore, we require all third parties and/or authorised representatives to be transparent with information that affects these decisions. In addition to meeting the requirements outlined below, third parties must make reasonable efforts to provide end customers with other relevant information when requested.

Honouring ownership requests

Third parties and authorised representatives are responsible for proactively informing businesses about their ownership and management options. Businesses have the right to determine whether a partner should have Co-Owner, Manager, or no access at all. Third parties must honour ownership requests from business owners within 7 days of the ownership request. 

Termination of end customer relationship

Your end customer must be given a quick and easy way to stop using your service to manage their Google My Business account(s). Within seven (7) working days of receiving notice from an end customer, you must provide that client with the ability to disassociate their Google My Business account from your services and regain exclusive control of their Google My Business account(s). If you had permission to manage or otherwise change the end customer’s account, you must also relinquish and remove those permissions accordingly. Learn more about transferring ownership

Management fees

Third parties often charge a management fee for the valuable services that they provide, and end customers should know if they're going to be charged these fees. If you charge a management fee, you must let end customers know that Google My Business is a free service. At a minimum, you must inform new customers in writing before you begin managing their listing and disclose the existence of this fee on customer invoices. Avoid changing your fees suddenly or dramatically.

Sharing the disclosure notice

It's especially important for small and medium sized businesses – who may not have the resources or expertise of large businesses – to know what they can expect when working with a third-party partner. Therefore, all third parties that primarily serve small to medium sized businesses need to share the 'Working with a third party' disclosure notice with all of their customers.

Have a link to the disclosure notice in a clearly discoverable location on your website. Examples of acceptable locations include the footer of your homepage, your reporting dashboard and the products or services section of your site. In addition, when you begin managing a new business or renew your relationship with an existing one, let your customers know about the presence of the disclosure notice on your website by either emailing them a soft copy or posting a printed copy to them.

Reviews

Business owners have the ability to respond to reviews of their business on Google. If you respond to reviews on behalf of your end customer, you must receive their authorisation first. All responses to reviews must follow Google’s Review Content Policies.

Insights

End customers using your service also must be given accurate information about Google My Business, including the ability to distinguish between Google My Business data and data from other platforms. If your service provides reporting data from other listing management platforms, you must report the Google My Business data separately from the non-Google My Business data. You can report aggregated performance data (combining Google My Business data with non-Google My Business data) provided that the Google My Business-specific data is also provided in an easily accessible place. You mustn't compare or share one customer’s Google My Business-specific data with your other customers.

Example: If your tool provides geographic location performance data aggregated across multiple platforms (for example, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, etc.), it must also separately provide the Google My Business location performance report and its required fields.

Share your Google My Business management cost and performance reports in a way that makes it easy for your customers to access the reports, such as by email or via your website. Alternatively, you can meet this reporting requirement by allowing your customers to sign in to their Google My Business accounts directly to access their performance data.

Publicity

Use of Google My Business doesn't create, suggest or imply a partnership with, sponsorship by or endorsement by Google. You won't make any statement regarding your use of Google My Business that suggests these types of relationship without Google’s prior written approval.

Interfering with Google activities

Google may monitor and audit any Google My Business activity to ensure compliance with all applicable policies and terms. You aren't allowed to interfere with such monitoring or auditing and shouldn't otherwise conceal from Google your Google My Business activity. Any interference will be considered a violation of these policies.

Prohibited practices

Claiming a business without consent

You can claim and manage a business listing only if you obtained the business owner’s express consent as required by the applicable law (written consent or implying a form of positive action, like ticking a box in a form). Verbal consent isn't sufficient if there's a conflict between the third party and the merchant. Don’t preemptively claim a listing to encourage, persuade or force a business to become a customer.

Example:

  • Extorting client’s consent (i.e. consent that's neither freely given nor informed)

False, misleading or unrealistic claims

We want businesses to make informed decisions about working with third-party partners, which means that you need to be upfront and truthful when describing your company, your services, the costs associated with those services and the results that customers can expect. Don't make false, misleading or unrealistic claims.

Examples:

  • Misrepresenting themselves as Google through robocalls (calls placed with a recorded voice) or other techniques
  • Guaranteeing top placement on Google
  • Claiming that listings will appear in Google Search or Google Maps at all times
  • Representing free Google products as pay-for-insertion products

Harassing, abusive or untrustworthy behaviour

Businesses should get the same great service from a third-party partner as they would get when working directly with Google. So don't use harassing, abusive or untrustworthy tactics with potential or existing customers.

Examples:

  • Excessive cold calling without respecting do-not-call lists
  • Putting undue pressure on a customer to sign up or stay with your agency
  • Threatening that clients will lose their listing if they don't sign up with your agency
  • Keeping a listing hostage in exchange for money 
  • Phishing

Account setup

Being an owner or a member of an organisation is a powerful role. Please restrict it to a few of your most trusted employees. Learn more about organisations and user groups

You're responsible for ensuring the integrity and security of your end customers’ account credentials. Here are some best practices regarding listings, account and password management:

  • Once a listing has been created for a client, you should make the business owner the owner of the listing and yourself the manager of the listing.
  • If a client already has a Google My Business listing, ask them to invite you as a manager, not as an owner.
  • Don't share passwords with your clients.
  • If you no longer manage a listing, remove the listing from your account.

About our policies

It's important that you familiarise yourself with and keep up to date on Google's third-party policy. If we believe that you're violating our policies, we may contact you to conduct a detailed review of your practices and request corrective action. In cases of repeated or serious violations, we may stop you from managing listings on Google My Business and may contact your customers to notify them accordingly.

Make sure that you review Google My Business policies.

What happens if you violate policy

Compliance review: We may review your business for compliance with third-party policy at any time. If we contact you to request information related to compliance, you're required to respond in a timely manner and swiftly take any corrective action needed to comply with our policies. We may also contact your customers to verify compliance.

Notification of non-compliance: If we believe that you're violating third-party policy, we'll usually contact you to request corrective action. If you fail to make the requested corrections within the time period given, we may take enforcement action. In cases of serious or repeated violations, we may take action immediately and without notification.

Third-party programme suspension: Your participation in other Google third-party programmes, such as Google Partners or Premier SMB Partners, is predicated upon compliance with this third-party policy and may be limited or suspended if we find that you're violating our policies or if you fail to cooperate with our efforts to review your business for compliance.

Account suspension: We may suspend your Google My Business listings and/or your Google My Business account if you commit a serious policy violation. In cases of repeated or especially serious policy violations, you may no longer be able to manage listings using Google My Business. Furthermore, we may contact your customers to notify them accordingly.

Report a violation of third-party policy

Think a third-party partner is violating this policy? Let us know: Report a violation of third-party policy.

While we may not respond personally when you contact us about a third party, we'll investigate your comments and, if necessary, take appropriate action. 

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