You think it’s Saturday. Put that picnic basket down. Take off those skis. An update to the Google Places Quality Guidelines regarding the much-publicized ‘hide address’ function has happened again. If you were confused by the previous language in the controversial guideline, check out the edit and see if this seems clearer to you now – even though it’s Saturday.
The previous language read:
If you don’t receive customers at your location, you must select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.
The new language reads:
If you don’t conduct face-to-face business at your location, you must select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option within your dashboard. If you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.
Why This Is Important
I discovered from my post at SEOmoz on this topic just how much the Local SEO and Local Business Community cared about the new guideline. 100+ comments later, it’s clear that when Google makes a public policy change, it affects so many people. But the way the new guideline was written left many people undecided about whether it applied to them or not. Mike Blumenthal’s excellent post on this, entitled Is Google’s New Requirement To Hide A Home Business Appropriate, is a good example of how some of us saw the guideline as speaking to home-based businesses, necessarily giving rise to the question: what about taxi companies, plumbers, electricians, etc? Frequently, such companies are not home-based, but no customer ever goes to their locations to visit them, right?
With the new language, it seems quite clear to me now that Google wasn’t just thinking about home-based businesses. The new guideline refers to any business that doesn’t conduct face-to-face business at the company’s location. So, yes, this means all of the businesses in my previous post on this. I’ll excerpt my brainstorm list here from that post for review purposes:
Gas & Electric Companies
Local Internet Service Providers
At-home Elder Care Providers
Large Animal Vets
And letâ€™s not forgetâ€¦Locksmiths
You can add countless other business models to this for which Google does not want an address to be shown.
There have been many thoughtful posts written on this topic, some even pointing out good qualities they see in the new guideline. I haven’t been swayed from my original opinion. I do not want to pay extra charges for service people having to drive a long way to get to me because I chose their company without knowing they were far away. So long as Google hides the addresses of plumbers, taxis, carpet cleaners, painters, and other go-to-client business models, I can’t get the information I actually use local search for – I can’t see HOW local a business is to me.
I think this really matters. Don’t you?