Keyword Stuffing Google My Business Name

How important is it to include prominent keywords in your Google My Business Name? As an agency owner who focuses on local SEO, the answer is very important. According to a Moz Survey, local search engine marketers listed keywords in the business name as the most important local SEO element (along with proximity and category). Don’t go running from this blog to your GMB page to change the business name. It’s important to understand that going against Google’s guidelines (such as stuffing keywords in your Google My Business Name) could result in a suspension of your page. Competitors have the ability to report your company if there is misrepresentation of your business. After you read this blog you should be able to make a better informed decision as to how to handle your Google My Business Name. While quick wins feel good, you need to consider what’s best for the future of your business.

5 Important Components to Consider

There is a risk vs. reward scenario when it comes to editing or picking your Google My Business Name. Some people nail it from the get-go. Others try and change their name after realizing a competitor is outranking them. I will help you make a better informed decision as to whether you should keep your business name, change it or rebrand. There are five sections to this blog post to help you think through all scenarios to make the best decision.

1. Absurdity of Keyword Stuffing in GMB Name

I go on a rant about how ridiculous it is that Google hasn’t accounted for keyword stuffing in their algorithm for local SEO.

2. Continued Growth of Local Search 

Local search isn’t going away. It actually is continuing to gain relevance.

3. Risks of Keyword Stuffing 

If you don’t follow these guidelines when it comes to your Google My Business Name, your page could be at risk.

4. Doing it the Right Way 

I’ll break down the difference between changing your GMB name, rebranding and selecting a business name from scratch. What’s right? What’s wrong?

5. Future Trends with Google My Business  

I’ll provide my two cents on the future of Google My Business and local SEO. This is my perspective on where local could be going and how you can plan accordingly.

Contact Media Captain For Local SEO Questions

Example of Local Pack Benefitting Keywords in GMB Name

Based on the Google Search example below, you can see how the businesses with the suburb name (Westerville) along with the core keyword (Dentist/Dental) benefitted with a higher rank in the local pack. This is commonplace. Northstar Family Dental (ranking third in the local pack) has every right to be frustrated. They have more reviews than their competitors yet their business name doesn’t include “Westerville,” making them rank in the third position. There are many businesses that don’t rank in the local pack at all due to their GMB name.

Related Blog: Local Pack vs. Organic | What’s the Difference?

1. Absurdity of Keyword Stuffing in GMB Name

The fact that Google makes it so easy to rank in the local pack by simply adding in relevant keywords to your business name baffles me.  Google has so many rules and guidelines to avoid manipulation and abide by their search quality guidelines. Yet they overlook or don’t have a solution to something as obvious as Google My Business keyword stuffing.  Keyword stuffing with your Google My Business name is something that’s frustrated experts within the local SEO community for years. Joy Hawkins, a local SEO expert showcases this tweet from 2017 where the top three results in the local pack include “car accident lawyer” within the GMB name. Brodie Clark has seen keyword stuffing in the Google My Business name so often that he created a roadmap for how to deal with a competitor stuffing keywords. The local SEO community has even created a hashtag called, #stopcraponthemap   

What makes keyword stuffing in the GMB name so hard to comprehend is the overall relevance and placement of the local pack. It’s not a hidden feature.  The local pack is one of the most prominent items on the first page of Google.   It’s positioned towards the top of the search results, making it one of the first items seen when conducting a Google search. In my estimation, the local pack takes up 20% of the real-estate on the first page of Google. You’d think Google would put as much or even more emphasis into the quality of the local pack as they do with their organic results due to the overall placement and prominence. Why does the local pack stand out so much versus other sections on the first page of Google? There’s a lot happening, which makes it even harder to believe that Google would allow businesses that are not legitimate yet have keywords in their business title to rank well. Features associated with the local pack: 

  • Located towards the top of the search results
  • Colorful map
  • Bright orange star ratings
  • Address listed
  • Hours of operation
  • Additional features (see “on site services”) in the example below
  • Link to website
  • Button for directions
  • Option to call on mobile devices


2. Continued Growth of Local Search 

Local search continues to gain relevance so the prominence of Google’s local pack isn’t going away anytime soon. The stats below by HubSpot are indications of the importance of local search:

  • There has been 150% growth for phrases like “near me now
  • There has been a 900% growth for phrases like “near me tonight/today
  • There has been 200% growth for phrases like “now” + “near me“.
 Google is taking advantage of the growth in local searches.   Yelp has complained about Google trying to take over the local game. Rather than someone looking up restaurant reviews on Yelp, why not just look at the review ratings on Google My Business? Yelp’s six-year grudge against Google along with their corresponding antitrust complaint shows Google attempt to dominate local. Google is even advertising local search in their national TV ads. They are focused on growing local exposure and realize how important local SEO has become and will continue to be. The question is whether or not they will combat the low quality businesses populating in the local pack through Google My Business.

3. Risks of Keyword Stuffing 

Some of the most common questions I receive from business owners who already have an active business and Google My Business page are the following:

  • Should I add a suburb keyword at the beginning or end of my GMB name?
  • Should I add a primary keyword (such as attorney or law firm) into my GMB name?
  • Should I completely change the name of my business to include either a suburb or primary keyword?

The Google My Business guidelines make it clear that your business name should not be misrepresented. Below are key excerpts from the Google My Business guidelines:

  • Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.
  • Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended.
 Business owners, in-house marketers and agency workers are pondering what move to make at this very moment. They realize the local SEO community doesn’t like the crap on the map, which is keyword stuffing in the Google My Business name. On the other hand, they need to generate results for their company, clients or your boss. It’s only natural to be thinking about adding in a keyword into your business name for a quick local SEO win. It’s imperative for you understand the risks involved in keyword stuffing in the Google My Business title. According to Joy Hawkins, the owner of Sterling Sky, a local SEO firm, “Google has no way of algorithmically catching this so violators of this guideline are only punished if someone catches them and reports them. Related Blog: How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Google Penalty?  Never forget that your competitors can report you if your Google My Business name isn’t 100% correct. That being said, Google’s stance on penalizing guilty parties is not an extreme one at the moment.  Joy Hawkins agency did a fantastic job in her case study showcasing how many businesses got hit with a hard suspension versus a soft suspension versus no action taken at all. Her agency reported 50 businesses that were misrepresenting their business name on GMB and tracked the actions taken by Google. Some key findings included the following:

At a high level, Google didn’t take a hard stance against the culprits. This is showcased in the screenshot above from the Sterling Sky article. They came to the conclusion that it’s fairly easy to convince Google that keywords are part of the GMB business name by simply adding them to the logo on the businesses website or adding photos to your GMB that have the logo. When advising our clients, I’m not just thinking about today and tomorrow but also into the future. You’re probably reading this thinking it’s a good idea to add keywords to your business name since Google isn’t that strict at the moment. Continue reading to gain more perspective.

4. Doing It The Right Way

My wife and I recently got Asian food for dinner. I found a nearby restaurant by searching on Google for “Asian Restaurant in Westerville.” The restaurant we went to (which was very good by the way) was named, “Great Asian Restaurant.” I laughed because this restaurant did things the right way to rank well on Google My Business. They included primary keywords in their business name (Asian Restaurant). They made it generic enough where if they wanted to expand into different suburbs, the name wouldn’t hinder them from doing so. They also had a lot of great Google My Business reviews. I’m not sure if they lucked into this or strategically selected the name. Some might scuff at the idea of naming a business something so generic. This is where you have to ask yourself what’s more important, the branding or driving actual customers into your location. Below is a picture I took outside of the restaurant! This got me thinking about how we advise our clients during the infancy of the business. Our agency does branding and graphic design. Yet SEO is a core service offering. At times, I cringe that we make a recommendation like “Short North Pizza” for the name of a new pizza shop downtown. The Short North by the way is a district that connects downtown to Ohio State’s campus area. Yet we have to make pitches like this due to the importance of important keywords in the GMB name. We don’t often advise clients to change their business name and branding for the sake of ranking well on Google My Business, unless it’s in the best sake of the company. We feel the risk outweighs the reward in this scenario. We’ve seen businesses succeed when it comes to redirecting their domain, redoing their branding while changing all references on the web. There’s just no guarantee when you do this it’ll work. What we don’t advise is changing your Google My Business name for the sake of ranking well and not having your branding align with it. If you are going to change your GMB name, make sure the name of your business is actually changing and follow the steps below, otherwise competitors will be able to report you. The list below is courtesy of the same article I referenced earlier from Sterling Sky:

  • Matches the sign on street view
  • Matches the business license
  • Answer the phone with the new business name
  • Matches up throughout your entire website

For The Media Captain, we work with a lot of clients in Columbus but we also work with businesses throughout Ohio and the U.S. It wouldn’t make sense to name our company, “Columbus Digital Captain” because it would limit our growth. That being said, if I wanted to rank better for the keyword, “Digital Marketing Agency,” having “Digital Captain” instead of “Media Captain” could be more advantageous. That being said, we’ve built a brand and people are familiar with our company. We offer a lot more services like web design, graphic design, social media marketing, Amazon marketing where it would be limiting. I’ve thought about doing this but never felt it was worth the rebrand. Based on the example below, you can see the high level thinking that goes into picking the proper name for GMB. Each business is different, which is why you should consult with local SEO experts prior to making this sort of decision.

5. Future Trends with Google My Business

I like to think Google is very smart. I also believe Google wants the best user experience on the web. Because of this, I have faith that will be an local algorithm that rolls out at some point in time that devalues keyword heavy business names. #Crapinthemap with keyword stuffing has been an issue for many years now. As the local pack becomes more relevant, Google should want more credible businesses to populate in this section. Rather than making the business name one of the top ranking features, why not dictate the rank in the local pack based more on the authority of the website? This would eliminate a non credible company from creating a Google My Business page with the name of the business being, “Detroit Personal Injury Lawyer.” When it’s too easy to win (like in the instance of keyword stuffing the GMB name) I tend to think there will changes in the future to combat that. Only time will tell.

Jason Parks

Jason Parks started The Media Captain in 2010. He’s grown TMC into one of the largest digital agency’s in Ohio over the past decade.The Media Captain has worked with hundreds of small, medium and enterprise clients on digital marketing and development projects.The Columbus Based Digital Marketing Agency has received numerous accolades. TMC was named a Top 1% Agency in the U.S. by UpCity in 2019 and 2020. They also won the “Best PPC Campaign,” which was a national award from DashThis. They were also the recipient of the Top 10 Social Media Marketing Agencies in Ohio.

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