Google is usually a home builder’s best friend. It brings prospects and shoppers to both your website and model homes every day in fact. How – and where – your information is displayed on Google can have a large impact on your sales and marketing success. That is why one of the recent updates made by the “My Business” team is pretty scary.
My Business (formerly Google Places) allows companies to connect their physical location on Google Maps with pertinent company data (open hours, phone number, descriptions, photos, etc). You likely use these every week whether you realize it or not. My Business also can get you closer to the top of search results as Google often includes a separate Maps results area. Recently though some home builder’s sales office locations began to disappear from the service.
“They are citing privacy concerns with our locations becoming someone’s home in the future,” says Will Duderstadt of M/I Homes. “Right now we list sales offices within our communities, which are regular places of businesses, serving customers with open hours. The possibility that it will become a residence seems to be their justification for removal.” However, as Will quickly points out this is a not a situation that is unique to model homes. “Not being targeted are old commercial and warehouse spaces that have the potential to be renovated into living spaces or home based businesses run out of residential homes.”
The reason Will feels like builders are the focus may seem like paranoia, but Google did recently update their service policy to specifically exclude “model homes” as seen in the screen shot below.
However, it appears that sales or leasing offices remain eligible – and that is both good and bad news. The good news is that technically it appears the majority of model homes with sales offices technically should be able to keep their My Business listing. However, the bad news is that right now Google either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to follow their own policy. You may need to go through a much more intensive process for updating or adding your data in the future because it appears as though Google is being very aggressive at enforcement, and it is up to the builder to prove that you are abiding by the policy.
“We are doing our best to work with the My Business team to clear this up both for us – and all the other builders using the service,” says Will. “For now though, I wouldn’t recommend updating your existing information in My Business until this is cleared up or you could risk losing your dot on the map.” Good advice.
Stay tuned for updates and insights on this story as it happens, and a big thanks to Will for bringing it to our attention at DoYouConvert.