Hide Your Google Places Address Or To Heck With You

Andrew Shotland had just posted a solution to a mystery that has been circulating through the Local SEO industry every since his Google Places listing was obliterated after he had a phone conversation with a Google Rep.

Apparently, he had violated a guideline I’ve never heard about, and that he’d never heard about and that I doubt a single SEO or local business owner has ever heard about:

“If you business serves customers at their locations but does not receive customers at your location, you should select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option within your dashboard.”

I’ve got to say, I’ve seen Google come up with some weird things in the 5+ years I’ve been paying attention to Local, but this takes the cake. So, from this day forward, let it be known that the following businesses (and more) had better hide their addresses lest they be cast into the outer darkness:

Gas & Electric Companies
Cable Companies
Phone Companies
Local Internet Service Providers
Taxi Companies
Carpet Cleaners
Construction Companies
General Contractors
Painting Contractors
Fence Builders
Maid Services
At-home Elder Care Providers
Mobile Notaries
Interior Decorators
Maintenance Men
Dog Walkers
Chimney Sweeps
Large Animal Vets
Window Washers
Music Teachers
And let’s not forget…Locksmiths

That’s just off the top of my head…but HONESTLY…how does Google plan to get the word across to the millions of professionals working in these fields that they are now considered to be in violation of an obscure guideline that I couldn’t even find a direct link to and that they are in danger of having their listing axed?

In my mind, I see lines of local business people jumping through hoops just to deal with the whole claiming-my-advertisment-that-Google-made-without-telling-me-first business, and then there is the very thorny issue of reviews that come and go like the tide, and merging and bugs and on and on. I think Google has confused local business owners with circus animals. It’s undignified to jump through hoops. Here’s just one more hoop, and a really big and dumb one, that we just don’t need.

Please, Google, reconsider this. It’s stupid.

7 Responses to “Hide Your Google Places Address Or To Heck With You”

  1. on 23 Mar 2012 at 2:41 am Mike Blumenthal

    (cross posted at my blog as well)
    I think google’s intentions here are well meant even if their communications have sucked.

    If you have a home business that doesn’t accept visitors and isn’t really a business location, then you need to follow this suggestion.

    If on the other hand you have a business location (even a home based one) and do accept visitors (ie would serve a client if they showed up or a vendor) then you should choose service area and show your address.

    If you think of it from the human point of view, Google is attempting to accommodate both home and B&M locations AND provide the best user experience.

    Before Venice, the hiding of your address punished your listing. Now that virtually all displays are blended and there is no longer a ranking disincentive, Google is attempting to clean up their approach to businesses based on whether a user should/could use Maps to find them.

    That all being said, Google once again has managed to miscommunicate their goals and intentions or as Linda points out their confused intentions……. they will get it some day… in the meantime… I think that this decision reflects a rational path forward.

    With the new clarification, there are three classes of business:
    1)Pure Bricks & Mortar that sells to clients/customer at their business location only
    2)Businesses with a business location that don’t USUALLY serve customers at their location but could. They do however accept business related visits like employment interviews, vendor visits.
    3)Home based businesses that ONLY service clients on site and really don’t ever transact any business at home.

    I realize that in reality there are more than 3 business types BUT Google in the past only had two… and they are trying to clarify their rules and be closer to that reality. Not a perfect simulation but reality is messy.

  2. on 23 Mar 2012 at 6:59 am matthew hunt

    It makes sense to me too, but the way they are handling this is ass backwards (no real surprises here for GP history).

    Now I was always under the impression that not displaying your address was the kiss of death in rankings? Anyone notice a difference in rankings with this new option?

    And does anyone know if that will expand your radius of your possible rankings, by choosing not to display your address and choosing a service location(s)?

    How will citations work with no address being displayed?

    And what about a trust factor…? Even though people know a plumber is at your location service type business, people still see trust in seeing an address… even a mailing address.

    It would make more sense to me if it was a displayed option that shows up on the Google Places listings, that this is at your door service based business or that they do not accept at location visits or appointments.

    Has anyone else reported any phone call verifications besides Andrew so far…?

  3. on 23 Mar 2012 at 12:13 pm admin

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks so much for the in-depth comment, and especially for pointing out that the ‘hide address’ no longer buries listings. If business owners understand this, the transition will not be as stressful, but how many business owners will actually see the guideline to begin with? The communication has, as you say, sucked.

    I’m not sold on the value of this. When I call a carpet cleaner, I’m not expecting to go to their place of business, but being able to see that their address is local enables me to trust that I’m calling a local business. If Google hides the address, how do I know whether the results are showing me someone in my town or someone 2 towns away who will charge me more for the extra drive?

    The intentions on Google’s part may well be good, but, nope, I’m sticking with this being dumb.

  4. on 23 Mar 2012 at 12:14 pm admin

    Hi Matthew,
    You certainly are asking some valid questions! I would like to have answers to them, too. Thanks for commenting. It’s nice to see you here.

  5. […] Hide Your Google Places Address Or To Heck With You – Miriam Ellis […]

  6. on 28 Mar 2012 at 11:26 am Dj Shirley

    Thank you for the post. Making the changes is not a problem but I am concerned about if changing the service area and hiding the address will have a negative affects on the rankings?

  7. on 28 Mar 2012 at 12:42 pm admin

    Hi DJ Shirley,
    While the hide address feature was once notorious for burying your Place Page, it no longer appears to have that effect in the main blended local results. It may still have some effect on rankings within Google Maps. Hope that explanation helps.

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