I’ve been advising others about their search presence since 2002, and this is the first time I recall ever telling someone to do something that could ultimately hurt them. Please consider this a “retraction” to my prior advice, and read it carefully.
For years I’ve believed that local service businesses should be visible on Google local, so I have always set my own and client Google Places addresses to show in Google local even if they only perform onsite service.
Real estate agents, home contractors, air conditioner repair, landscaping services, and millions of small busineeses run from homes BELONG in Google Places, but Google would show zero local impressions for anything other than company name if you “told the truth” and hid your address.
At a meetup for Google Places this February presentations I even explained it to a few small non-techie business owners – Check the box = disappear from SERPS – and others have documented this before.
But Now My Advice Could Hurt You
On March 22nd, Google changed their guidelines – and now, you MUST hide your address. They haven’t said exactly what will happen to offenders, but I suspect affected businesses will end up with the dreaded “This Location Not Supported” page as a “penalty, which I’ve written about before too“.
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.
What Will Happen If I Comply?
If I follow the new rules, and set myself as “invisible”, then I’d LIKE to believe that Google won’t be excluding me from the search results and my Place page will still show up in a search for Portland web hosting, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see how I’m affected. However, because Google’s “policy” on service businesses is just plain stupid I’m skeptical.
Wy? Because I already KNOW that my Google Place page for Search Commander, Inc. rarely shows up in searches exactly because I’ve had that address “hidden” for a while. However, just to test (and to get compliant), I just changed it this moment for PDXTC – here’s a screen shot of my my traffic for 30 days prior to today – Let’s see what happens…
Change Your Own Listing Now
So – to be clear – my outdated advice can hurt you – Any service business that only performs onsite or remote work, one with no “customer facing store front” is required to check the box in Google Places that says “hide my address” or they can be removed. “Do this now” is recommended by Google.
Log into Google Places and edit your company info. then just scroll down and ensure that you’ve checked both boxes –
Save the results, and then watch your traffic and cross your fingers I guess!