Google Places Optimization – Your Google Places Address

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Why You May Need To Hide Your Google Places Address ASAP

Last month, the inglorious septic system at my little old home in the country backed up and my washing machine erupted, drowning my laundry room and kitchen in two inches of water. I waded right into the flood at 9 o’clock at night with my arms full of grocery bags, shouted some colorful words and then went online. Nota Bene: do not operate a computer while standing ankle deep in water. Find a dry spot to crouch in first and then use Google Places to find a 24 hour plumber. This is what I did, and because I live in a rural area, Google showed me a set of plumbers within a radius of about 50 miles. Naturally, I looked for the closest one to home so that I might not be charged extra for the plumber having to take a long drive to get to me.

I was successful in finding someone to help me, but if my septic system goes wild in the future, I may not be able to select the business address closest to me because Google has just made a major policy change in their handling of go-to-client business models such as plumbers, maintenance men, carpet cleaners and the like. From now on, Google wants this type of business to use the ‘Hide Address’ function in Google Places. If you operate a business like these ones or are handling the Local SEO for clients who do, you need to know about this change because failure to get with the program on this could result in your listing dropping out of sight. Here’s the story:

A Curious Little History

  • On February 24, 2012, Andrew Shotland of received a phone call from a Google employee who asked him if served clients at his listed address. He answered that he had both local and national clientele. The call ended, and the next time Andrew Shotland looked, his A-listing had vanished from Google Maps.
  • Around this time, Google Places Help Forum Top Contributor, Linda Buquet, (Catalyst eMarketing) noticed that some posts were coming into the forum from business owners whose experience of a phone call followed by disappearance of their listing matched Andrew Shotland’s, or who had simply had their listings disappear without any preceding phone call.
  • Andrew Shotland started pinging the Places Troubleshooter and received a prompt email from a Google employee quoting an extremely obscure passage in the Google Places Help Files:

What are my options when defining a service area?
Don’t receive customers at your location? Serve customers at their location? 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.

Not one Local SEO I know who has written about this incident had ever drilled down to a place in the files where this information lay buried. After receiving this email, Andrew set his address to hidden, and his listing popped right back.

  • Googler Vanessa Schneider began responding to Google Places Help Forum posts about some listing problems with the advice that certain business owners should hide their address.
  • On March 22nd the official Google Places Quality Guidelines were updated to include the following language:

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.


Clarifying Your Business Model, According To Google

Thanks to Google Places Help Forum Top Contributor, Mike Blumenthal, I feel that I have arrived at a fairly clear understanding of how Google is now classifying different business models. I’d like to pass this information on in hopes that it will help you determine whether your business needs to hide its address on its Place Page.

Type A
Your business is brick-and-mortar and serves all customers at its location. Show your address.

Type B
Your business is home-based and serves some customers at your home and some on the road. Show your address and use the Service Radius tool.

Type C
Your business is home-based and does not serve any customers at your home. Hide your address.

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