New Rule: You Can’t Create Google Places Listing at a Location You Do Not Own


Update, 18 Oct 2011, 1PM EST: The rule was amended and the words “as a custom attribute” were removed. That was caused by the fact that these attributes currently do not show up on the Place pages, therefore this part of the rule did not make sense. It is a different topic if in a description limited to 200 characters the owner of the location would have the space to write about the business they rent it to.

The Quality Guidelines for Google Places were updated and a new rule was added. The guideline is from the “Ineligible Business Models” section and says:

You also can’t create a Places listing for an ongoing service, class, or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent. Please coordinate with your host to have your information displayed on their Place page as a custom attribute or within their Description field.

This new rule raises some concerns. If a class or meeting is happening regularly at a place, but none of the participants owns the place, does that mean that the class/meeting location should be set to some of the participants’ home address? How would that serve the purposes of the meeting or class in any way?

Furthermore, what if the location is not a business location, i.e. the actual owner does not have a Place page? And even if they have a Place page and set custom attributes, what would the point be if these custom attributes do not show up at all.

I believe this rule would rather cause more troubles and raise further questions, than solve specific problems. By invoking this rule the way they do, Google proceed their politics of providing scarce and very insufficient explanations and definitions in the Google Places Quality Guidelines. I believe at least mentioning a few examples would be a good start in the right direction.

  1. Andrew Huskinson
    Andrew Huskinson10-10-2011

    Yes another example of a googler not knowing how their own product works:
    1. Custom Attributes are called Additional Details in the Places entry.
    2. Additional Details do not now display anywhere, not even on big screens.

    I was told I was ‘naive’ to believe the Additional Details were not shown as a simple way of showing one set of data suitable for mobile internet enabled QVGA phones. I have had no rebuttal or explanation of why I was naive.

    Andrew Huskinson. B.Sc. MBCS C.Eng Chartered IT Practitioner

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov10-11-2011

      Andrew, I don’t think the reason why they added this advice was because the employee did not know the additional details do not show up. I believe they know that very well. However, they do not really seem to have other answer as per current to how such event type businesses could deal with this situation.

      To cater their needs better some new features are needed, but it really seems like the Google Places tech team is rather understaffed.

  2. Jo Shaer
    Jo Shaer10-10-2011

    Wow, this is hideous for all my therapy clients and the various hobby instructors who hire rooms! And it also seems to preclude virtual offices, hot desks and space renting!
    I appreciate that it’s great to have a listing mechanism for physical bricks and mortar businesses but what about the ‘service’ industry. Those who don’t need to have a physical address because they go to the customer :( I’d say that Google’s goal of world domination would be severely dented by disaffecting so many people.
    And what happened to shops within Malls being able to use the @ symbol.

    Considering some of the Places Pages that we are in competition with who break all the rules anyway, is it really fair to start adding in another set of rules designed only to restrict the honest businesses?

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov10-11-2011

      Jo, I believe Google does not have a very clear strategy about the development of Google Places as a product. Furthermore, as you said they seem to be unable to fight spam, so the honest businesses suffer from that, which eventually leads to Google not showing the best possible results, which they claim to be their main overall goal as a search engine.

      I don’t see the point in adding the name of a container store, because I don’t believe Google’s algorithm would read that correctly and it’s very possible that duplicates could start popping up. I don’t also see the point for someone to ask the owner of a location (assuming they have a Places listing) to add their data to the description or additional details, when the visibility of the first is close to 0, and the second is completely not showing up.

  3. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek10-13-2011

    Hey Nyagoslav, thanks for the great analysis of Google’s carefully crafted non-guidelines.

    I wonder how this “rule” squares with one’s ability to select the “Do not show address” option. I mean, fine, Google *is* saying that you can’t set up a Places page for a class/meeting/whatever at a LOCATION that you do not represent, but what if you’re not specifying the location itself? If you don’t specify the address, in essence all you’re saying is “Hey, there’s this meeting/class that takes place in such-and-such town…we don’t *own* this location, but we do exist and do want to gain a little exposure in the local community…so here’s our Places page, with the phone number of our coordinator.” Seems harmless enough. Might be worthy of a little experiment, in which you set up an “event” listing but DON’T specify the “location,” and see if the Places page gets pulled.

    On a separate note, I completely agree that this is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist–at least not in comparison to the *real* problems that run amok in Places.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov10-13-2011

      Good idea, Phil. I will be really interested to read about the outcome from such an experiment. Another interesting thing would be how exactly Googlers would understand who the actual owner of a location is.

      Meccha bakaa desu ne…

  4. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek10-13-2011

    Hey Nyagoslav, thanks for the encouragement on the experiment. I’ll give it a try and let you know what happens (if anything).

    Great point, by the way, about *how* Google will know whether one is an “authorized” representative of the event/class/business…I think I’ll make my listing as anonymous as possible and see what happens.

    Hanashimasu ka…

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