What businesses are eligible for a Google Business Profile? Is mine? How do I know? If you’re thinking about setting up a Google Business Profile, there are a few things you need to know to avoid Google penalties or getting your account suspended. Google has some rules to make sure only genuine businesses with real-world customer interactions get listed. Read more about this blog to learn if your business qualifies for a GBP, formerly known as Google My Business.
Which one applies to you?
- I own a brick-and-mortar business.
- I own an online business with no storefront.
- I own a service business where I meet customers face-to-face with no physical business address.
- I own a seasonal business. (i.e., Christmas tree farm, Skating Rink, Pick-Your-Own Fruit, etc.)
- I own a business where no employees are present at the location. (i.e., ATMs, kiosks, drop boxes)
- My employees work at a specific location, but we service a large area online or in-person. (i.e., Digital Marketing, Call center)
- I offer classes or meet with clients in a public setting with no physical address.
What Businesses Are Eligible for a GBP?
So, what makes your business eligible?
- You meet customers face-to-face during business hours (at a brick-and-mortar location or at a service location such as a home)
- You’re available via phone, online, or in person during business hours
- You have a physical location, OR you service a specific area (within a 200-mile radius)
- You have employees that work at a physical business location but service a larger area
- Retail Stores: Brick-and-mortar stores like clothing boutiques, bookstores, hardware stores, and grocery stores qualify as they have physical locations where customers can visit during business hours.
- Contractors, HVAC, Repair Businesses: Businesses that service areas without a physical location are still eligible for a GBP if they service a local area.
- Restaurants and Cafes: These businesses serve customers in person, making them eligible. This includes everything from fast food joints and coffee shops to fine dining establishments.
- Professional Services: Businesses offering professional services, such as law firms, medical practices, accounting firms, and real estate agencies, can qualify. They have offices where they meet clients in person.
- Beauty and Personal Care Services: Salons, spas, barbershops, and other personal care businesses often qualify because they provide services to customers at a specific location.
- Fitness Centers and Yoga Studios: These businesses have physical locations where customers come for classes or to use the facilities.
- Automotive Services: Car dealerships, auto repair shops, and car washes are examples of businesses that qualify, as they have physical locations where they serve customers.
- Hotels and B&Bs: Accommodation providers like hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns can qualify as they have physical locations where guests stay, and customer support is available during business hours.
- Banks and Financial Institutions: Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that have physical branches where customers can visit are eligible. This includes ATMs (see “Exceptions” below).
- Educational Institutions: Schools, colleges, and tutoring centers can qualify as they have physical locations where students attend classes.
- Entertainment Venues: Movie theaters, concert halls, sports arenas, and other entertainment venues can qualify as they host audiences at a specific location.
Remember, these businesses must make in-person contact with customers during their stated hours to qualify for a Google Business Profile.
But don’t worry; there are a few exceptions. ATMs, video-rental kiosks, express mail drop boxes, and seasonal businesses like your favorite winter-only ice-skating rink can all qualify. And if you’re running a delivery-only food service, you’re in luck, too, just with a few conditions.
- Have a physical location: Even though customers don’t visit the location, the business should operate from a specific, verifiable location. This cannot be a residential address or P.O. box.
- Interact with customers: While this interaction is not in-person, the business should have a clear way for customers to place orders and get support, such as a phone number or online ordering system.
- Comply with all local laws and regulations: This includes health and safety regulations, business licensing requirements, and any regulations.
- Not mislead customers: The business should make it clear that they are a delivery-only, ATM-only, drop-off-only service and not misrepresent themselves as a dine-in restaurant or place where customers can physically visit for on-site services.
- If applicable, include your service areas instead of a physical location: You’ll still need to verify your Google Business Profile using a valid business address, but you don’t necessarily need to share that address with customers. For companies that only service an area instead of a specific location, be sure to list out the cities (within a 200-mile radius) that you serve.
What Businesses Aren’t Eligible for a GBP?
Not all businesses can get a profile. For instance, if you’re selling or renting properties like vacation homes or apartments, or if you’re running a service, class, or meeting at a location you don’t own, then you’re out of luck. The same goes for lead generation companies, online-only businesses, and any business using a P.O. box or remote mailbox as their address.
- Property Rental or Sales Businesses: This includes businesses that sell or rent properties such as vacation homes, model homes, or apartments. These businesses often don’t have a physical location where customers can visit, making them ineligible. After all, you wouldn’t want someone renting out the home or apartment; then curious potential customers show up to speak with the owner. However, if you have a physical address where customers can visit (with signage), you do qualify.
- Unowned Service Locations: If you’re running a service, class, or meeting at a location you don’t own or have the authority to represent, you won’t qualify. This could include fitness instructors teaching classes in public parks or pop-up shops in locations not owned by the business.
- Lead Generation Companies: These businesses primarily generate leads for other businesses and often don’t have a physical location where customers can visit, making them ineligible.
- Online-Only Businesses: These are businesses that operate solely online, such as e-commerce stores, online boutiques, businesses that sell on Etsy or eBay, digital marketing agencies, or online consulting services. Since they don’t have a physical location for customers to visit, they don’t qualify.
- Businesses Using P.O. Boxes or Remote Mailboxes: Businesses that use a P.O. box or a mailbox in a remote location as their address are not eligible. This could include home-based businesses that use a P.O. box to maintain privacy or businesses operating from a virtual office.
- Brands, Organizations, Artists, and Other Online-Only Entities: These entities, which operate primarily online and do not have a physical location where they meet with customers, are not eligible.
Google Business Profile is built to serve a local population and allow customers to find business information relevant to their geolocation. If you offer services to a large area that’s not “local,” you likely do not qualify for a GBP. Similarly, if you don’t have a physical business location (whether customers can visit there or not), you’re also not eligible.
Can Someone Else Manage My Google Business Profile?
Now, who can manage these business profiles? Only the business owners or authorized representatives. But be aware Google can revoke your ownership if you’re inactive, lose your authorization, can’t be reached via email, delete your profile, or if your profile gets suspended.
If you’re an authorized representative, like an SEO/digital marketing company, a friend of the business owner, or an online ordering provider, you’ve got some extra rules to follow:
- Get the business owner’s permission before claiming a profile
- Don’t make any false claims
- Work directly with the owner for verification- it may require the owner to receive mail, take a video of the business, or even answer business-specific questions.
- Keep the owner in the loop to avoid confusion or misrepresentation – Let them be the experts in their industry.
Remember, if you don’t stick to these rules, Google might suspend your Business Profile or Google Account and block any future contributions. So, let’s play by the rules and get your business out there on Google!
Rule of thumb: Think about your customer interactions. If your business has a physical location where you meet with customers face-to-face during your stated business hours, you’re likely eligible. This includes businesses that have seasonal operations or are delivery-only food services with certain conditions. However, if your business is online-only, uses a P.O. box or remote mailbox as its address, or if you’re running a service at a location you don’t own or have the authority to represent, you likely won’t qualify. Remember, this is a general guideline, and there may be exceptions. Always refer to Google’s official guidelines for the most accurate information.