Google is laying down the law on company names
How your company is named in Google My Business matters, and Google is taking action
Google has long said that when it comes to listing your company the only information that should be used is whatever is on the sign out front. What that means is that if your company is called "M-Mart" then every store in your Google My Business account should be called M-Mart and nothing else. No city names, no street names, no landmarks. In the past, Google has been pretty lenient about letting companies bend these rules but that appears to be coming an end.
Don't reinvent the wheel!
Many companies choose to use additional information in their GMB store names because they think it makes it easier on their customers to find the place they are looking for. So instead of M-Mart, they'll use M-Mart Malmö because the more information the better right?
Wrong, and here's why. Google automatically shows the locations that are nearest to the customer when they do a google search or maps search. Generally speaking, the consumer could care less which store is the closest unless the offering differs drastically from store to store. Additionally, the address is always displayed in the results making the additional information redundant.
You're sabotaging your own insights!
Google doesn't just make up rules for the heck of it. How you name your company is extremely important because your Google insights for direct searches and indirect searches are based on whether or not the search spelled your company name exactly correct. In other words, a search for m-Mart, M mart, M-mart, or m mart would all be considered indirect searches since the company name is "M-Mart". Any deviation from that name is an indirect search. So you can only imagine what will happen when you name a place M-Mart Saint Louis.
Indirect searches are an important metric because when things are done right, they represent consumers who found you by a categoric search instead of by name. These are consumers who have made a purchase decision but haven't decided on a provider. The graph below is actual customer data and shows a huge shift in direct and indirect search results. At the end of the graph there is a spike in direct searches and a corresponding drop in indirect searches. What's interesting is that it doesn't represent a change in customer behavior, Google just made it easier for them to have a direct search.
Google takes over
Google has recently begun disregarding company preference and enforcing its' guidelines for search and maps. This means that they are actively changing company names to match their regulations. Your best bet as a company is to be proactive and ensure that you are adhering to Google's guidelines now.
If you have any questions on the subject or want help making sure your company is listed correctly, just give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org!