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JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

[As an experienced Local Guide, I now sometimes come across inconsistencies or notice that errors have been made that I used to make myself when I started out. So I am publishing a few 'best practice' posts, in the hope it can help others.]

Google Maps has been around much longer than there have been local guides, so I think it safe to assume that most of the points of interest (POI) did not appear on the map because a local guide added it. My best guess is that there has been some kind of original import to populate the map with POIs. And it would then make sense that, for a lot of countries, this was an import of databases coming from official government or chamber of commerce listings.

That would explain the fact that so many businesses are listed on the map with a name that looks like it comes from such a database. One clue pointing in this direction is the addtion of legal terms as part of the business name: 'LLC' in English, 'GmbH' in German, etc. The format of the name can be another telltale sign, which is something you typically come across in very small businesses like hairdressers, butchers or doctors. An example from my personal experience in Belgium: a lot of those POIs have a name in the 'fixed' format [last name+space+slash+space+first name], like 'Janssens / Peter'. The third indication is that most of those businesses are not claimed.


The official Google guideline for naming businesses on Maps (as published on the Google My Business help pages) is that the name should reflect the business’ real-world name, as used on the storefront, website, and stationery. It is also specifically mentioned that 'irrelevant legal terms' should not be included in business names (unless they are part of the business’s real world representation). So: whenever you come across a POI with a legal term in the name or with the name in an odd-looking format, you should have a closer look to determine whether or not the business name needs to be changed.

To do this, you can obviously visit the places to have a look yourself, but also online tools can provide the information you need. The images already posted (either StreetView images or those added by the business owners or local guides) can show the way the name is represented on the storefront. And of course the company website (especially if there is an 'About us' or 'History' page) will feature multiple instances of the name as it is most commonly used.

In some cases the URL of the website can already be an indication that the legal term is integral part of the company name as it is part of the URL - in which case it should not be removed. But you should not consider that to be a rule set in stone, as I've also seen cases where the URL contains the legal term, but the texts on the website clearly show that the name without legal term is the one most commonly used (typically with short or common company names that probably added it to the URL because the shorter URL was already taken - think 'smith-llc.com' because 'smith.com' was not available). On the other hand: if the URL does not include the legal term, that is a first indication that it should be removed. But please do have a look at the website itself to make sure you draw the correct conslusion.

And by the way, good to know for those eager to score the 5 points that each suggested edit can bring: my experience is that removing legal terms where this is appropriate is one of the edits that gets approved algorithmically quite easily (which is certainly not the case for more invasive name changes).

A final tip: when looking at the details of those POIs, make sure to also check the category. Quite a few of the ones I have come across had no or not the best possible category (often a general one like 'Company').


Other posts in this series:
Best Practice: Entering Opening hours
Best Practice: ALL CAPS / all lowercase
Best Practice: Correcting pin location
Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category
Best Practice: Submit changes one by one
Best Practice: Find the right zoom level
Best Practice: Reporting duplicates
Best Practice: Adding places without house number
Best Practice: Correcting errors you accidentally made
Best Practice: Filtering 'Check the facts'
Best Practice: Find the right category
Best Practice: Create on mobile / Complete on desktop
Best Practice: Improve your reputation

Best Practice: The best order for suggesting edits

Best Practice: Attempts to add bus stop or train station

Disclaimer: the practices described here as best practice are my personal interpretation, and I don't claim any level of official endorsement.


TorM Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Get rid of legal names


I do appreciate all your post very much!

JeroenM Level 7
Level 7

Re: Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

Great job, @JanVanHaver.


Could you please give some examples of business names where you think the legal term should not be removed?

JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

Hello @JeroenM, the cases where I end up not removing them are most often cases where I am not sure that it should be done, and... in doubt it is always better to leave it as it is.


A typical example are small businesses in Germany for which there are no pictures and no Street View footage, and with a website that only has the bare essentials with consistent use of the name including the legal term (like 'Fischer GmbH' - the German really seem to love their GmbHs)

Badruddeen Level 8
Level 8

Re: Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

Thanks @JanVanHaver


For another great post.



Briggs Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

This is also exactly some of the edits that I love to edit out, but in the past I've had issues where they just won't be successful when the Google Maps guidelines as well as a Googler directly advises the following:


@Rodrigo_P wrote:

What makes a good edit on Google Maps? Business name: Use the official name of a place, the one used on the storefront or website. Don’t add additional text in the name field such as special characters, legal terms (like LLC or Inc.), or unnecessary spaces. Capitalize the business’s name the same way the business displays it,

The Guidelines for representing your business on Google writes:

Special characters (e.g. %&$@/") or irrelevant legal terms unless they are part of your business’s real world representation Not Acceptable: "Shell Pay@Pump", "Re/Max, LLC", "LAZ Parking Ltd" Acceptable: "Shell", "Re/Max", "LAZ Parking", "Toys ’’R’’ Us", "H&M", "T.J.Maxx"

The other issue is that Google doesn't purely display listings from just it's own database as well, but it takes information from a whole range of sources including directories, business departments and other management databases (like you've mentioned). So being able to get to the most proper of names or representation might end up being barred or impossible since Google Maps may at times trust an existing, and established database instead.


I do enjoy reading your best practice and expertise @JanVanHaver! I know in Australia, we tend to have 'Pty Ltd' (proprietary limited). I also adore that pink horse.


JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

Well @Briggs, if you're on an LG discovery trip and a pink horse gets thrown on your path... how could you not take a picture? 😉


By the way: look at the name of the business "KADOOKEN.be" (used in that form also on their website). A nice one in the discussion about how exactly to use capitalization.