Among several rule-updates that will Google will probably enforce haphazardly or temporarily, here are the two updates that have stuck in my craw:
- The reversal of the “descriptors” rule. For years Google said you had to use your official business name as the name of your Google Places page. Then in February they said you could add a keyword or city name or a similarly short “descriptor.” Now they reversed that rule.
- You can only pick the most-specific category (or categories) for your page. For example, if you’re a divorce lawyer, you pick “Divorce Attorneys,” but not “Attorneys.”
I think this fits into the big-picture changes that Google’s “Pigeon” update represents. Since July, Google has put even more emphasis on classic organic ranking factors – especially the quality of your links.
Google is now telling you to provide less information about your business on your Places page – in your name and in your categories. Google would rather sift through your site’s pages and links and draw its own conclusions about what your business offers, and rank you accordingly.
At least in theory, if you’re not trying to use your Google Places name and categories to maximum advantage, you’re trying to rank based on your ability to earn good links (read this) and reviews. That, plus searchers’ behavior, is what Google seems to care about above all.
Enforcement is where the rubber meets the road. Who knows if Google will enforce the new rules uniformly, or how it will affect who ranks and who doesn’t? I predict continued chaos.
What’s my advice? I think Greg Gifford nailed it.
What are your thoughts on the update? Leave a comment!