Common Myths About
Google Places

Myth #1: A business owns its Google Places listing.

Google Places owns all the business listings it publishes. Adapting to this fact may be difficult for some small business owners, because they are accustomed to having complete control over their listings in other directories, especially in the print yellow pages.  Businesses pay dearly for print ads in phone directories, and thus have control of their content. A Google Places listing is free, but the business owner has little control over it.

Myth #2: Google Places uses only the info that a business owner provides.

The myth that once a Google Places listing is verified, a business owner provides the information that appears in the online listing is just that: a myth. If Google simply published what people put in their business listings, their local index would be warped into uselessness by spammers. The information a business owner provides via the Places dashboard is just one set of data that Google takes into account. Google also considers the data it receives from data providers, trusted local and industry directories, government records, phone and utility companies, what is published on the business’s own website(s), and what it learns from other reliable sources. If multiple trusted sources disagree with what the business owner provides, that version of the facts may prevail over the owner’s input. David Mihm provides a great explanation of how Google gathers and uses data here.

Myth #3: You don’t need a website to prosper in Local Search.

In the past, many businesses with no website have been able to rank well in Google’s Local Search results. This trend has been changing over the past few years. The top 2-4 positions in most Local Packs that appear within the organic search results tend to be held by companies that have both a strong Google Maps ranking and a website with a strong Google organic ranking. If your local market is competitive, you are more likely to need a strong website to rank near the top of the Local Packs.

Search results for local locksmith

Myth #4: Your Business’s Google+ Page is now your Google Places listing.

Google Places and Google+ are not the same thing.  Places is still your local business listing and Google+ Business is the platform on which you can be social using Google’s network of connections. In many cases, but not all, the two can be associated with each other within one Google account, resulting in a Places business listing which has Google+ social features.  Your About page on Google+ is one of the spots where your business information from Places can appear.


As you can see, Google Places can be a great tool for your business, but it has to be managed deliberately, like any other aspect of your business communication strategy.

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2 replies
  1. James Seo says:

    I think that the last myth you listed here is a HUGE one. It’s difficult sometimes for clients to differentiate a Google Places listing from their Google Plus listing. However, I know that there is more of a push right now to synch the two. In terms of businesses that want the organic visibility of the map listing, but don’t have a office, what do you recommend?

  2. Mary Bowling says:

    James, This could cover several situations:

    1. A business that does not have any physical presence in an area is NOT entitled to a Google business listing.
    2. Those businesses that travel to the customer instead of the customer coming to them at an office or shop, such as a carpet cleaner or landscaper, are referred to to as service area businesses (SAB’s) and they are entitled to a Google business listing. In that listing, they can set up a “service area” on the map within which they are willing to travel to do their work:
    • If they meet with customers at their place of business, they can publish their address in their listing, and
    • If they do not meet with customers at their place of business, their address is hidden.

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