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I am developing a business directory website for my client, I am implementing in every page containing a company the LocalBusiness markup.

The problem is that Google requires in order to pass the validation also an image of the company. I don't have any image of these companies.

Can I put always the same URL containing a "generic" icon or this can hurt the SEO?

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There are two different issues.

ISSUE 1: Repeated Use of Wrong Image

An image must be representative of the business. Using one for all entries is therefore wrong.

I do not know for sure, but I doubt you would be penalised. But (per issue 2 below) there is no reason to add an image at all.

In fact, adding incorrect values may confuse Google and others and so make it harder for the desired associations to be made.

Finally, you are making an association between your clients (the businesses) and some random image which:

  1. they may not want/appreciate;

  2. may even hurt their own seo efforts; and

  3. will decrease the value of your site's citations.

ISSUE 2: Snippet Validation is NOT Schema Validation

Google's validator is for SNIPPET display - i.e. what schema is required for them to display the LocalBusiness SNIPPET on their search results page.

This should NOT be the objective your site. That should be the object of the submitting site. Your objective is citations - completely different.

Even though your markup doesn't pass "snippet validation" without an image property, it is still valid schema and is useful for your citations efforts because it will almost certainly still be used by Google and others to make associations between your page and the relevant Local Business - which is what you want.

So just don't bother adding any image property at all.

EDITED: To try explain more clearly.

  • instead of leaving empty the field 'image', i am thinking to use instead of schema.org/LocalBusiness the more generic schema.org/Place that allows to leave empty the image. Is a good idea? – Daniele Aug 28 '18 at 6:01
  • @Daniele - Can you elborate? Did you mean Place as a property of Local Business? If so, and you have that data, sure include it. – TBB Aug 28 '18 at 6:04
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    @Daniele - Also I would not leave the value field empty, I would simply not include the Image property at all. – TBB Aug 28 '18 at 6:09
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    @Daniele - I edited my answer because I realised I said don't include a value and leave the property there, when I actually realised that removing the property entirely is probably the better treatment. – TBB Aug 28 '18 at 6:15
  • i don't mean Place as a propery of LocalBusiness. I mean something like this: <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "http://schema.org", "@type": "Place", "name": "NAME OF THE PLACE", "address": { "@type": "PostalAddress", "streetAddress": "ADDRES OF THE PLACE", "addressLocality": "CITY OF THE PLACE", "postalCode": "ZIP CODE OF THE PLACE" }} </script> This passed the google validation, an image is not mandatory. Anyway, LocalBusiness is – Daniele Aug 28 '18 at 6:36

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