Local Mailbag #1 – GMB Post Rejections, View My Plan, Located In, and More!

Welcome to the first edition of our new blog series, Local Mailbag! Here we will answer your questions on local search, Google My Business, and other related topics. If you have a question, send it our way. You can email our team, or ask your question in the comments!

Topics we are tackling in this article:

1) My Google Post is being rejected, can you please share the reason why it’s happening?

In the first few weeks of February, many users reported that their Posts were being rejected, and additional businesses and consultants echoed these sentiments on Twitter. This turned out to be a bug that Google has since fixed, so it is possible that your business was just experiencing Post rejections in error.

From our experience, however, a Google Post can get rejected for the following reasons:

  1. Prohibited content guidelines for photos and videos – The image or video you are using is not acceptable.
  2. Links to sites irrelevant to the business – You added a URL in the Post content that isn’t associated with your listing’s website URL.
  3. Inappropriate and offensive content – You are using certain words or inappropriate language that can result in a rejection.

It’s important to be aware of Google’s content policy and the rules around photo and video format and requirements.

Based on Google’s guidelines here are some things you can test for Posts going forward.

Content:

  • Don’t use slang, offensive words, hateful, obscene, profane or violent content. There are some words that we wouldn’t consider offensive but that can trigger Google’s filter and result in a rejected post.
  • Don’t use too many exclamation points or all caps.
  • Don’t include multiple offers in a post
  • Don’t forget to spell check.
  • Avoid gibberish, and use of gimmicky characters (ex.H@ppy Fr1Y@y).

Photos:

  • Don’t publish blurry, excessively dark, or low resolution photos or videos.
  • Google says:

“To be relevant, photos or videos must be taken by users at the location in question. Stock imagery, or photos or videos taken by other parties, are not relevant and may be removed. If the primary subject of the content is irrelevant to the location, it may be removed.”

  • Don’t use screenshots, drawings, posters, and other non-photos.
  • If you are adding text or graphics (such as your logo) to an image, your content cannot take up more than 10% of the image or video, must be limited to a single edge, and must be relevant.

With regards to using stock imagery, we license photos and use them when it is relevant to the business and have not yet experienced having them removed, however, they could be removed eventually. Depending on the industry your business is in, you may need to access a stock photo here or there, and we say go for it! Check out our Posts guide to learn more about this feature.

2) In my GMB dashboard there’s an option to “complete these tasks to update your profile and unlock quotes.” What are quotes and is this something I need to be doing for my GMB listing?

You may have noticed a banner in the Google My Business dashboard that offers your business a plan to “reach your goals on Google”. We’ve seen variations of the banner text. Some businesses are getting “Complete your recommended tasks to reach your goals on Google” while others are getting more compelling results for plan completion such as, “Improve your profile to unlock quotes”.

What’s in a plan?

We reviewed the listing-specific plans for over 50 businesses in a variety of industries including service area businesses, and physical locations. Plans vary from business to business and (in our sample) could include the following tasks:

  • Visit Insights
  • View your business on Maps
  • View your business on Search
  • Post a Photo
  • Share your business profile
  • Turn on Messaging
  • Download the app

While plans vary to promote different GMB features a business may not be using, all roads seem to lead to either Download the app or Turn on Messaging as the final task.

Issues with GMB plans

There has been a lot of confusion on the GMB Community Forum about these new plans over the past few months, and that discussion has been ramping up as the plans are more prominent in the dashboard now.

Known issues:

  • When a task is completed, it isn’t removed from the plan.
    • We have seen a completed task instantly get removed from the plan, and we’ve also completed some tasks only for them to never get “checked off”. We’re guessing this is another GMB bug (add it to the long list).
  • All tasks are completed but no quote feature is “unlocked”.
    • We contacted GMB Support on behalf of some clients who had completed all steps, but whose plans did not reflect the work done. For example, one business had downloaded the app on multiple devices, but that was still a recommended step in their plan.
    • Support told us in one case that this feature just isn’t available for some businesses, and in another that the plan will vanish when the business “increases its web presence”.

What quote feature could this unlock?

In our sample, all plans led businesses to download the GMB app or turn on Messaging. GMB Support confirmed this feature is the “Request a Booking” or “Request a Quote” button (there are phrasing variations) on the business profile, which is powered by Messaging:

Request a booking example

The button to request a quote can also appear in the local pack for some searches. The button appears below the map and above the listings (including local pack ads). Below the button is a small explanation: “Compare quotes from multiple businesses”.

local pack - request quotes

How does the “Request Quotes” feature work?

When a searcher clicks the “Request Quotes” button and fills out a form describing the service they’re requesting, search-relevant listings with Messaging enabled are listed. The searcher can then select from the list any businesses they would like to quote the job.

messaging enabled searc results

Note that in the example above, only one of the businesses in the local pack is included on the list of businesses that can provide a quote. The other businesses in the local pack do not have Messaging enabled. The list of businesses that can receive this mass quote request has expanded geographically (likely due to limited number of businesses using Messaging), and now includes a business that is in another town 40 minutes from the searcher.

How do searchers and businesses interact with the quote button and Messaging feature?

When a searcher clicks the Request a Quote button, they’ll be prompted to complete a form. The form fields are category-dependent and can’t be edited by the business. The fields may include: Service type, When, Where and Details (a long form message box).

searcher interaction

Once the searcher submits the request, it is instantly received by the business via the Google My Business App. The business can reply to the request in the GMB app, under the Messages tab in the Customers section.

When the business responds to the quote request, the response will appear in the searcher’s Google Maps app on their mobile device. Notifications are dependent on your device settings.

The Messaging conversation begins with the quote request and the conversation between the searcher and the business follows in the same thread. To access the conversation again as the searcher, open the Google Maps app and click the Messages tab in the Updates section.

The value of GMB’s Messaging feature

Despite the bugs and inconsistent information from GMB Support, there’s no doubt Google is pushing the Messaging feature. With more businesses on board with Messaging, the Request Quotes button in the local pack could expand to more categories and give searchers more local options. For now, it’s worth completing your listing’s plan (even if completed tasks don’t get checked off your to-do list) and enabling the Messaging feature. After all, it’s another conversion point and will help you stand out above your competitors the next time a searcher clicks “Request Quotes”.

3) Which categories is the “located feature” available to, and when does it make sense to use it?

Located In is not a direct Google My Business feature that can be triggered by a specific category, it is actually a Maps feature. To access it you need to edit the listing directly from the Business Profile on a Search or in Google Maps.

You will see the Located In feature for A) businesses that operate within a mall or office tower, or B) Companies with separate departments that operate as distinct entities within a business, or C) a business that shares/leases space within another business.

Examples:

  1. Dealerships, like a service or parts department within an auto dealership
  2. Kiosks inside brick-and-mortar locations
  3. Stores located within a mall
  4. Businesses located within an office tower

Guidelines for using the Located In feature:

  • You cannot use this feature to highlight a specific department/section within a store, for example the “Toy Department in Target”.
  • Each distinct business or entity has to have a different primary category from the main business or building that it is located in, and it needs to best represent what that entity does.
    • Examples of acceptable distinct listings
      • Costco Optical
      • Walmart Auto Center
    • Examples of unacceptable non-distinct listings:
      • The Apple products section of Best Buy
      • The hot food bar inside Whole Foods Market

If you’re located in another building or business and you think this feature would benefit both your business and searchers, here is how to add it to your GMB listing:

  1. Search for your business on Google Maps. On your listing, click “Suggest an edit” and select “Change name or other details.
  2. Go to the “Located within” section, and Search for the place or business you are operating your business within, and click Send.

You can also do this to remove the Located In feature from your GMB listing. If there has been an error in Maps and it’s displaying your business within another location that is incorrect. If your edit is not approved, you can take it a step further and contact business support via Talk to a specialist, Twitter, or Facebook.

4) The animal hospital I’m working with has 4 veterinarians. Does that mean I should create 5 separate Google My Business Listings?

Yes, you can create a separate practitioner listing on GMB for each veterinarian, but there are important considerations to review before you go creating a bunch of new listings.

Cautionary advice

  • Practitioner listings can be hard work to manage because each individual practitioner should own their listing. If they leave the veterinary clinic, their listing will go with them. A practitioner listing belongs to that individual and not the practice.
  • Strong practitioner listings can outrank a practice listing, which may cause issues for the owners of the practice. We recommend carefully selecting categories to help avoid this – more on that below!
  • When creating multiple similar listings, it’s important to be aware of Google’s local filter, which can filter listings it considers to be duplicates or similar based on phone number, address and proximity. Follow the helpful instructions below and you should avoid getting a listing filtered!

Best practices

  • Practitioners are only allowed a practitioner listing separate from the practice listing if there are multiple practitioners. In this case, the animal hospital meets these requirements, but if there was only one practitioner, they would not qualify for multiple listings.
  • The business name is NOT allowed in the listing title for the practitioner listing.
  • The practitioner names are NOT allowed in the listing title for the practice listing.
  • Listings for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).
  • Practitioner listings should have a direct contact number for that individual and display their office hours. Tip: Add a direct line or a call tracking number for the practitioner as their primary phone number, and then add the practice’s main phone line as the secondary number.
  • Support staff do not qualify for a listing, and should not create one.
  • Category selection is important when there is a practice listing and multiple practitioner listings. Try to diversify the listings if each veterinarian has different specialties. For example:
    • Main listing = Animal Hospital & Emergency Veterinarian Service
    • Practitioners = Veterinarians
  • A practitioner shouldn’t have multiple listings to cover all of their specializations.

If you want to learn more about how to handle practitioner listings on GMB, we’ve got you covered with this article and video.

Have a local question? Send it our way.

That’s it for this edition of Whitespark’s Local Mailbag, but if you have a local search question that you need help answering, leave it in the comments or email our team.

AUTHOR

Team Whitespark

At Whitespark we are all about helping enterprises, agencies, and small businesses solve local search problems and get answers to their burning questions. We work together as a team to answer all your inquiries. The answers come from Jessie Low, Allie Margeson, Tessa Hughes, Sydney Marchuk, and Tomas Acuna .

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