This installment of the Local Marketing Q+A series covers the mailing address for Google Places (Google+ Local) verification process.
The Local Marketing Question:
Do you need a mailing address for Google Places listings?
We have a physical address but use a post office box for mail.
– Patricia in Yorktown, VA
The Local Marketing Answer:
A physical address where you can receive mail is preferred, but not necessarily a requirement.
For Google+ Local pages (formerly Google Places,) Google requires that businesses verify their physical address by sending you a post card with a code on it.
Google’s goal here is clear – they want to only list businesses that serve customers at an actual location. If you’re operating out of a PO Box, you don’t qualify for this address verification.
In fact, even if your PO Box gives you a street address, you can still get in trouble with Google.
Trying to game the system eventually results in being removed from their listings. In other words, locals will not find you when they search for your product or service in their area.
Getting listed in Google+ Local without an address
Service-based businesses often do not have a storefront or physical address where customers are served.
Google allows businesses to be listed, but you have to hide your address and create a service area on their map tool.
You still need to use a valid mailing address where Google can send their postcard for verification.
For example, a home based business would select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing.” This would enable them to verify a mailing address with Google but not publish it with their listing.
Advantages of a Google+ Local verified mailing address
It is impossible to know exactly how Google’s local ranking algorithms work.
That said, I have seen one distinct advantage of business listings with an address vs. without.
When a local includes the city name in their search term, the listings with an address in that city definitely outrank those that don’t.
For example, check out this search for “plumber norfolk” (a plumber in Norfolk, VA.)
The top 5 listings all have one thing in common – a verified address in Norfolk, VA.
There are larger plumbing companies in other cities that include Norfolk in their service area, but they are nowhere to be found in this search.
Having a verified physical address is a slight advantage – however – if your business can’t provide this it isn’t the end of the world.
My advice for business owners that are unable to verify their address:
- Proceed with your Google Places (Google+ Local) listing setup.
- Specify a service area and hide your address.
- Optimize your Google+ Local listing with keywords relating to your geographical service area.
- Ensure that your website and social media profiles reflect the same local-focused keywords.
- Launch a Local SEO campaign to create as many valid citations as possible.
- Combine the Local SEO campaign with an Organic SEO campaign. This will help to naturally rank for your local keywords.
- Consider an Adwords campaign once for the keywords you can’t rank naturally for (when the city name is included in search, for example.)
Have you got a question about marketing your local business?
Submit your question below and we’ll include it in this ongoing series.