Should I Hide My Address at Just Google Or Everywhere? - Local University

Should I Hide My Address at Just Google Or Everywhere?

A reader recently sent in this question that's relevant to service providers that work from home:

I know that for local businesses that do not have an office Google requires that the address be hidden on Google+ Local. In light of this, what is the correct way to list the business info on a website and citations - with the address or without the address?

I want to make sure that the NAP or NP is consistent across the web so that I'm not penalized.

local-search-mapThese types of questions are always best answered by asking: What is best for your customer?

Google's requirement that you hide your address if you are a "service area business" and do not accept customers at your location is very unique to them and their Maps interface. Their goal is to provide their users with a good mapping experience and not have them drive someplace that isn't open or doesn't accept visitors during their posted hours.

BUT...

Google still needs to be able to "cluster" data about your business in their database. They need to be able to determine how prominent your business is in your market, understand which markets you best serve, attach reviews to it and allow people to call you. Thus they need your full address in their database and they are only hiding the address to improve their searchers' experience.

Hiding your address at Google doesn't change how you should handle your name, address & phone on your website or elsewhere on the internet.

Adding your complete address information to your website adds credibility. But you wouldn't want folks driving up either if they were going to be disappointed. In that situation I would make it clear that you do all of your business at the client's site and that there is no need for them to visit you.

So as far as Google goes, it still makes sense to submit your full name, address and phone (NAP) to every directory and primary list provider (Localeze, InfoUSA & Axciom) that you can.

Google won't punish your for providing your address to the greater local ecosystem.

Google will however "punish" you by lowering your ranking if you don't. And they will punish you if you don't hide your address in your Places Dashboard. In the later situation your listing will be totally removed from their local index.

There are some folks out there that want hide their address across the whole of the local ecosystem because they are fearful of exposing their home business address. For those in that category, local search is not really a good marketing option.

Most primary data suppliers will list your business without address if they can verify but most of the sites that they provide data to will not accept the listing without full address information. Most IYP and local directories have similar requirements.

Thus for the most part unless you have very specific reasons, you would always want to show your full address both on your site and across the internet. And only hide it at Google.

4 Responses to “Should I Hide My Address at Just Google Or Everywhere?”

  1. Google also wants businesses like contractors that have an actual office address but not a storefront to hide their address as well. I ran into this in mid December when a roofing company that I manage had their listing zapped because I didn’t hide the address.

  2. Spot on post, Mike! This will definitely clear things up on this issue. I would also add that for those businesses that are truly concerned with limiting where their address is displayed, that they could hide their address on Yahoo! and Bing local listings as well. I say this because these two directories aren’t citation sources for Google+ Local and address information has a higher likelihood of being seen due to local listings being displayed Yahoo! and Bing’s universal search results.

    • Hey Will, so just confirming… you’re saying you can have the same capability? to hide you physical address on Yahoo! and Bing’s local listings? (can’t seem to get answers about that from Yahoo! listing support)

  3. Thank you for this post Mike, as I think it was highly needed to give people clarification. We are finding that even after explaining the address situation to clients, there is still an element of panic in their eyes at just having the cityname. It also throws up the question (to consultants and SMBs alike) of whether the address should be visible in other places (aka, round the web).
    As the post has clarified, yes it should. Even though Google isn’t displaying the address (when hidden), it can still read it in the dashboard and looks for it around the web. I personally think this stuff needs spelling out as none of it is obvious to the uninitiated.

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