Many company legal names are vastly different than their published names. A DBA/Assumed Name lets you operate your business under multiple names without going through the extensive paperwork of creating a new corporate entity. This can be in order to choose a memorable name that is “current” with your customers’ mindset. Now, there’s a new reason to register DBAs…Google recently adjusted their terms to say that your Google Listing must use your full legal business name.
The business name on Google Maps must be your full legal business name.
Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.
So, does Google consider a DBA “Assumed Name” to be your “full legal name”? It’s going to have to, in my opinion. Google doesn’t want a local Chinese Restaurant such as “Hunan Restaurant” to have to change it’s Google Map Listing to “Wai Chong Enterprises,” for example. So…if you owned a fly-fishing store, but your legal name is “Jones and Associates” you would want to head out and file for an “assumed name” such as “Memphis Fly Fishing Supplies, Inc.” – as long as you complete the required filings, you have probably met Google’s new requirements for “full legal name” and can claim your listing.
Business Name is One Factor
This may cause a bit of a horse race to the state offices controlling such names with keyword-rich names, but remember that this is generally thought to be only one factor in local rank in Maps, Google Local Onebox, etc. Other issues, such as proximity to the centroid of a city, proper categorization of your listing and business description all play a part, too.
This takes me back to the day when we were doing lots of Yahoo Directory submissions. We found that if you had the actual business name registered at the state government level, you could get favorable listing names (and therefore anchor text) on Yahoo Directory. But those days are long gone.
How Will Google Check?
But it seems unlikely that Google will be able to verify all of these names, and will, instead require some form of TOS/affidavit, etc approach. If it’s like anything else Google, they’ll rely on users to post complaints of businesses that are out of compliance.
The government publishes information about what’s required to file your DBA in various states. Here is my best shot at an updated list – originally at business.gov, with minor revisions here. I’m no attorney, so consult yours before using my list, of course.
Assumed / Trade / DBA Name Requirements, By State
Alabama does not require businesses to register a fictitious name. However, businesses may elect to register a trade name with the Secretary of State. Google on the other hand, will require a legal name, so you should register the trade name.
Register a Business Name in Alaska. Google should recognize this name, as it’s the main way to register it in this state.
The registration of trade names is not required in Arizona but is an accepted business practice, and can help avoid another business from using your business name. Trade names are registered with the Secretary of State, and I would think that Google should recognize this name Application for Trade Name RegistrationTrade Name Registration Information
Any sole proprietorship or general partnership operating under a name other than the owners must file a Doing Business Under an Assumed Name Certificate.Domestic and foreign corporations must file an Application for Fictitious Name with the Secretary of State. Domestic corporations must also register with the county clerk of the county in which the corporation’s registered office is located (unless it is located in Pulaski County). Fees vary depending on entity.
Individuals or entities doing business for profit under a name different from the owner(s) full legal name(s) must file a Fictitious Name Statement with the County Recorder-Clerk’s Office where the business will be conducted. Here is a directory of such offices.
Any person doing business in Connecticut under any name other than their own, must either register a trade name in the town where their business is conducted or register with the Connecticut Secretary of State as a corporation.
For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, Fictitious Name Certificates are registered in the Superior Court Prothonotary’s office in the county in which you are doing business:New Castle County Fictitious Name Certificate Kent County – call for form (302) 739-3184 Sussex County – call for form (302) 856-5742
District of Columbia
Individuals, corporations or partnerships may register a business name (trade name) different from the entity’s true name.
All Florida businesses operating under a fictitious name must register with the Division Corporations,Online Fictitious Name Registration.
Individuals or entities doing business under a name different from the owner(s) full legal name(s) must complete a Trade Name Filing with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the business is principally located. If you incorporate your business with the Secretary of State, registering a corporate name does not control the use of fictitious or trade names, and issuance of a corporate name does not affect the commercial availability of the name.
When a business name is different from the owner(s) full legal name(s), the Illinois Assumed Name Act requires sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register with their local county clerk’s office. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register an assumed name as part of their required business filings with the Illinois Secretary of State.
If a business is using a name other than its official name, it must file a Certificate of Assumed Business Name with the county recorder of each county in which it has a place of business, and with the Secretary of State.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships doing business under assumed name must file a Trade Name Report with the local County Recorder’s office. This rule does not apply to corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships registered with the Iowa Secretary of State.
The State of Kansas does not require a business to register an assumed business name. Google may, however, require it. Kansas allows registration of a service mark, which may meet the requirements.
Corporations, a non-profits, LLCs and partnerships (general, limited, and limited liability) must file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the Kentucky Secretary of State.Sole proprietorships should file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk’s office where the business is located.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships operating under an assumed name must register with the Parish Clerk of Court office where the business is located.You may download the Application to Register a Trade Name, get it notarized, and submit it to your Parish Clerk of Court office.Corporations, non-profits, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships must submit the application to the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships doing business under an assumed name are required to file a certificate with the municipal or town clerk where the business is located.Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register a Statement of Intention to do Business under an Assumed or Fictitious Name with the Maine Secretary of State.
Massachusetts requires anyone who is conducting business under an alias (i.e., any name other than their own), including corporations, to file a business certificate (“doing business as”) in the city or town in which where the business is principally headquartered
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships using a business name other than the legal names of the owner(s) must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk under which the person(s) will do business. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register an assumed name as part of their required business filings with the Michigan Secretary of State.
The State of Mississippi does not require a business to register an assumed business name. Google may require you to use your primary corporate name in Mississippi.
Missouri law requires any person or business entity which transacts business in the state under a name other than their own â€œtrue name to register that business name with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s Office as a Fictitious Name Registration.Online Registration of Fictitious Name
All persons and entities doing business in the state of Nevada under an assumed or fictitious name that is different from the legal name must file a Fictitious Firm Name Certificate with the County Clerk of each county in which the business is being conducted
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships doing business under an assumed name should register with the county clerk office where business will be conducted.For profit and non-profit corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships may legal do business under an alternate name by registering with the New Jersey Division of Revenue.
The State of New Mexico does not require a business to register an assumed business name. You’ll need to ask around, as I was unable to find any information on this.
Sole proprietorships using a name other than the owner’s name should file a Business Certificate with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.General partnerships operating a business under an assumed name should file a Business Certificate for Partners with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register an assumed name as part of their required business filings with the New York Department of State.
Certificate of Assumed Name Forms – includes links to online forms that are to be filed at the County Register of Deeds Office in the county in which your business is conducted.
Businesses in Puerto Rico can both register their trademark and a trade name (i.e. fictitious name) through the Department of State’s Registry of Marks and Commercial Names: Registro de marcas y nombres comerciales (Registry of marks and commercial names).
Businesses operating under an assumed name may be required to file an assumed name certificate with the city or town clerk in which the business is located. In addition, all corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships conducting business in Rhode Island must register an Fictitious Business Name Statement with Rhode Island Secretary of State.
Businesses operating under an fictitious or assumed name are not are required to register with a government agency.Only foreign businesses may adopt a fictitious name. A fictitious name can be obtained for a foreign (out of state) business that is authorized to transact business in the state because its legal entity name is already registered in South Carolina. Visit the South Carolina Secretary of State for more information.
Tennessee does not require registration or filing of DBAs or fictitious names for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships register an assumed name as part of their required business filings with the Tennessee Secretary of State.
All businesses in Texas operating under an assumed name bust file an Assumed Name Certificate with the County Clerk’s Office in the count which the business primarily located. Corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and limited partnerships must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the Texas Secretary of State in addition to a separate Assumed Name Certificate with the county in which the registered business’ main office is located.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Lieutenant Governor of the Virgin Islands – Certificate for Registration of Trade Name
All Utah businesses operating under an assumed name must file a Business Name Registration / DBA Application. For more information, visit these resources:Information for Corporations Information for Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships