You may not agree with them. You may not even completely understand them. But unless you want your business’s local visibility to take a faceplant onto hard pavement, you’d better know and follow the Google Places Quality Guidelines.
Unfortunately, you can’t follow the Quality Guidelines the same way Captain Kirk “follows” the Prime Directive in Star Trek. The Google Places Quality Guidelines are “the book,” and you have to go by the book even when it’s inconvenient to do so, or else you risk losing customers.
But you have to know the rules in order to follow them, because many of them simply aren’t intuitive.
I like what Nyagoslav Zhekov said in a recent post, that you really need to memorize the Quality Guidelines and stay up-to-date on them. Otherwise, the chances are good you’ll mess up your Google Places rankings—or, if you’re a local SEO, you’ll mess up your clients’ rankings.
That’s why I’ve put together this short quiz, to see how well you know the Google Places Quality Guidelines off the top of your head. (No peeking at the link to the guidelines I put at the top of the page!)
It’s 10 questions. Unless you score 10/10, there’s a chance you’ll shoot yourself in the foot by accidentally breaking the rules and losing business as a result
The questions are below, or you can open them up in a PDF here.
A link to the answers is at the bottom, below the questions.
Question 1: If you haven’t opened your business yet, how far in advance can you create your Google Places listing?
a) Whenever your website goes live
b) About 2-3 weeks—which is about how long it takes for Google’s verification postcard with the PIN to arrive in the mail
c) You can’t set up your listing before your business has opened
Question 2: Let’s say you work at a law firm that has 10 lawyers, all of whom work from the same address. What’s the maximum number of Google Places listings you can create and associate with that address?
a) 1: Only the law firm itself can have a Places page, whereas the individual lawyers can’t
b) 11: The firm can have one, and each of the lawyers can also have a Places page
c) There’s no specific limit; it depends on how many branches of law each lawyer practices
Question 3: What number of “keywords” is too many (and therefore prohibited) to include in the “business name” field?
c) An “extraneous number” of keywords
Question 4: Under what circumstances can you use a P.O. Box as your address?
a) Only if you select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option, so as to hide your address from showing up in Google Places
b) Only if you enter the P.O. Box into the 2nd “address” field, but first specify the physical address of your business in the 1st “address” field
Question 5: When MUST you select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option?
a) If you work from home, rather than at an office or store
b) If you don’t meet your customers or clients in-person at your business location
c) If your “service area” encompasses more than one town or city
Question 6: To what extent must you use a number with a local area code as your primary phone number?
a) You absolutely must use one, always—no exceptions
b) You should use one “whenever possible”
c) It doesn’t matter what the area code is, as long as your street address is local
Question 7: What is the maximum number of custom categories you can specify?
Question 8: Which of the following custom categories would Google deem acceptable?
a) “Sedation Dentist”
b) “Sedation Dentistry”
c) “Sedation Dentistry w/ Nitrous Oxide”
Question 9: Let’s say your business has 12 locations and 12 Google Places pages (one for each location); under what circumstances can you use the same website for each location?
a) Never; you need to have a completely separate website for each Google Places page
b) You can use the same website only if you have a different landing page for each location / Google Places page
c) You can always use the same website for each Google Places page, and you can even use the same page of your website for all your Places page
Question 10: Which of the following are you NOT allowed to put into the “website” field?
a) A shortened URL
b) A forwarded domain (i.e., a website name that forwards to another website)
c) The URL of your business listing on a third-party site (e.g., Yahoo, SuperPages, etc.)
Take a second to jot down your answers (how old-fashioned, I know), and then check your answers here.
Note: the Quality Guidelines change from time to time. If and when Google changes them significantly, I’ll update the quiz to reflect the change(s).