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  1. #1
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    How Does Google Know If You're Using a Virtual Address?

    I was talking to a business owner the other day and he wanted to use a virtual address - either a Regis address or an address from an UPS store - for his primary business because he didn't want to use his home address online as his business address.

    I told him neither would fly with Google as far as his Google+ Local page was concerned. His question was, "How would Google ever know the difference?" He told me that with the UPS addresses, for example, they are actual street addresses they give you not P.O. Box addresses.

    He also wanted to know why Google would be against this because there are a lot of businesses that don't want to use their home address as a "business location." As he put it, that's why a lot of people use Regis and UPS addresses. He has a good point but I didn't know what to tell him regarding these issues.

    How does Google detect these virtual addresses? And why doesn't Google understand the real world when it comes to small businesses?

    Travis Van Slooten
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

  2. #2
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    Re: How Does Google Know If You're Using a Virtual Address?

    Travis this thread has all the answers.
    http://localsearchforum.catalystemar...lus-local.html

    See especially #12 about WHY not allowed.
    And #16 in answer to how they know or could catch you.
    BUT tons of other good info there so just send him to that.

    But the quick easy answer is G does not look at G+ Local as HIS business listing or even a business directory. It's map based. So if a place is listed on Google maps G wants it to be a real location. So if someone drives across town they don't get an apartment or UPS store or Regis receptionist, but they are visiting the REAL business and can talk to someone. OR use home address and hide it, that's also acceptable, but not virtual locations.

    Virtual offices are definitely against the guidelines, you are to use your real location only.

    Additionally, Places is just a feed into Maps. If a mapper is cleaning up your street and finds you aren't really there, you can be deleted from Map Maker.

    AND WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT VIRTUAL OFFICE IS AGAINST GOOGLE GUIDELINES SHOW ME A LINK TO WHERE THAT IS SHOWS IT????????

    GUIDELINES:

    - Do not create a listing or place your pin marker at a location where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations.

    That's the guideline. Google considers UPS boxes, other private mailboxes and most virtual offices the same. You may have a physical desk there, but most people use virtual offices as simply mail pick-up points, so those people have poisoned it for you.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  3. #3
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    Re: How Does Google Know If You're Using a Virtual Address?

    Well, I'm not sure if and how Google can detect that a business' address is actually a virtual address. But using a virtual address goes against Google's guidelines and can get a listing suspended. I also do know that using a virtual address such as from Regis can cause some huge problems with it comes to the consistency of the NAP. The problem with using virtual addresses is that there were probably several other businesses that used that same address previously. So now you have an address floating out there online with a bunch of different business names and phone numbers attached to it. When you add yours, it just adds to the confusion. Considering that we know how important it is for a business' name/address/phone number to be consistent everywhere online, it's best to avoid using virtual addresses. So in this case, it might just be best to hide the address and define their service area.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
    Circle me on Google+ or follow us on Twitter

  4. #4
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    Re: How Does Google Know If You're Using a Virtual Address?

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Buquet View Post
    Travis this thread has all the answers.
    http://localsearchforum.catalystemar...lus-local.html

    See especially #12 about WHY not allowed.
    And #16 in answer to how they know or could catch you.
    BUT tons of other good info there so just send him to that.
    Thanks for posting that, Linda. Flash did a good job explaining that Google and the Map Maker team can detect that an address is a virtual one, and it can cause huge headaches for everybody that uses that address. More reasons to avoid virtual addresses.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
    Circle me on Google+ or follow us on Twitter

  5. #5
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    Re: How Does Google Know If You're Using a Virtual Address?

    That post is money! How did I miss that one? Thanks for pointing it out. I'm going to memorize #16 so I can explain to businesses how Google figures this stuff out. Thanks!

    Travis Van Slooten

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Buquet View Post
    Travis this thread has all the answers.
    http://localsearchforum.catalystemar...lus-local.html

    See especially #12 about WHY not allowed.
    And #16 in answer to how they know or could catch you.
    BUT tons of other good info there so just send him to that.

    But the quick easy answer is G does not look at G+ Local as HIS business listing or even a business directory. It's map based. So if a place is listed on Google maps G wants it to be a real location. So if someone drives across town they don't get an apartment or UPS store or Regis receptionist, but they are visiting the REAL business and can talk to someone. OR use home address and hide it, that's also acceptable, but not virtual locations.
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

  6. #6
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    Re: How Does Google Know If You're Using a Virtual Address?

    Private post office boxes are more likely to get whacked than virtual offices. Still, the best thing to do is use the home address if that's where the business actually is located. May not be a big deal now, but in a year or two, he'll wish he had done listened to you.

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