Does address change impact proximity signal if it's hidden?

snysarah

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
21
Hi, I'm working with a client with an SAB - the address is hidden and he's targeting a nearby service area (which he has designated in the GMB listing's backend). The current address is rural & adjacent to the city he's targeting, and he is considering updating this to his business partner's address, which is inside the city where he is wants to rank. Would this help him rank better in the city where he's trying to increase his presence? Thanks.
 

snysarah

Member
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Nov 27, 2018
Messages
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Thanks Colan. The address in mind is actually a place where work takes place during business hours with at least one staffed employee at any given time, but I guess you're saying it also has to match up with other things like legal filings?
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
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Jul 26, 2012
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1,558
@snysarah, what Colan said, and yes, the address should match what's on legal filings. If it doesn't, you'll probably still rank OK if you're doing everything else so well that Google can overlook some uncertainty as to what your client's address is. But if that's not the case, the inconsistent address will hurt your client in one way or another.

Google isn't good at sniffing out "fake" or other non-compliant addresses by itself. Competitors who dig are the real concern.

In a case like this I'd focus more on organic visibility, and not get too hung-up on Google Maps.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Sep 12, 2012
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I'll respectfully dissent here and say I would move the address, provided you do your due diligence in terms of the location and impact of moving the listing.

This is not Google's official stance, but I quit listening to them a long time ago. They change their mind every other day on things which makes me do what's best for my clients. Also, proximity being a blanket ranking factor is so archaic. The fact that a SAB 10 miles away from you can't be shown prime placement in the map pack because they're technically in another city is ridiculous and not elegant at all.

Do what's best without putting you or your client in danger. If you're in a high traffic area where reporting from spam hunters is an issue, I might tell you not to do it but you've got an added layer of protection since an employee is actually there doing the work during normal business hours which means you are able to have a GMB page at this location according to the guidelines as they are written.

Again, do your due diligence and make sure it makes sense but if it does, I would certainly do it. But also understand what Colan and Phil said might happen. Understand the risks.
 

Yan Gilbert

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Oct 15, 2016
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284
Why is it ineligible? If it's his business partner, couldn't they use either address?
The business should have its GMB listing address the same as the legally registered address. Many service area companies set up additional listings using their employees addresses to get more visibility which is against guidelines and so there can be more scrutiny making the chances of the listing being reported higher.

In this case, since it is a partner the assumption can be that the address is more permanent. Moving the listing to partner's address would technically be against guidelines as well unless the business papers also have this address on it.
 

snysarah

Member
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Nov 27, 2018
Messages
21
Why is it ineligible? If it's his business partner, couldn't they use either address?
Yeah, it's not ineligible. I was curious of the ranking impact with the addresses hidden either way. But I'm guessing even with the address hidden, it's taken into account for this proximity signal.
 

snysarah

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
21
Yeah, it's not ineligible. I was curious of the ranking impact with the addresses hidden either way. But I'm guessing even with the address hidden, it's taken into account for this proximity signal.
But to Yan's point, it's not the primary, ie the address you would see on legal papers.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Sep 12, 2012
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Hi Joshua, just curious, what factors would you use to determine that it makes sense to set-up shop at an ineligible location?
The same factors I would use if it was an eligible location. Is the city in the city you want to rank in, what is the proximity to population dense areas, competition, etc. I would also consider the possibility of being reported based on competitive factors.

If you're asking why I'm comfortable not following Google's rules of eligibility, the answer is what I mentioned earlier in the thread. Google changes their mind every other day on what's okay and what's not okay. It's a headache to keep up with. The last thing was review markup schema. I had mentioned to a few people it was likely Google would start penalizing based on that at some juncture, that's why I stopped implementing it. I was told by different people, one very influential, that they were following the guidelines and this was unlikely. The penalty was implemented a few months after that conversation.

I honestly don't care what Google says or does. They are a publicly held corporation, not the law. However, I play by the "rules" 99% of the time because I don't want to get my clients penalized. But if it comes down to my client vs Google and I don't think it's going to hurt the client, I'll choose the client. With that being said, this is probably the only instance where I deviate from what Google says to do ie why I stopped implementing schema. But honestly, again, I couldn't care less about what they say to do or not do.

It also has to do with the fact that they don't implement service areas very well. They push people out of search results that are 100 ft over a city line into the next city purely because of the city, not proximity. It doesn't make any sense. So, again, I do what's best for the client.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
Messages
1,830
The business should have its GMB listing address the same as the legally registered address. Many service area companies set up additional listings using their employees addresses to get more visibility which is against guidelines and so there can be more scrutiny making the chances of the listing being reported higher.

In this case, since it is a partner the assumption can be that the address is more permanent. Moving the listing to partner's address would technically be against guidelines as well unless the business papers also have this address on it.
It's not stated in the written guidelines that the address must be the legal address. It is stated that the address used must be an address where "a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours." And actually, according to the guidelines, that's even overstepping it a bit. Officially, it says, "Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location. PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable," but I think we all know at this point based on what's written in the guidelines it must be at a place where a business can make in-person contact during it's stated hours. You can infer that by just reading the full document.

Also, people sign up their business legally at their home address all the time but then grow out of their home and move into a commercial location and don't update the legal information and just renew under their home address. I think making it your "legal" address is taking that a little too far. Although I think it's a good recommendation to make them match for potential SEO related benefits.
 
Last edited:

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
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3,069
Why is it ineligible? If it's his business partner, couldn't they use either address?
I 100% agree with Rich. I literally have a friend in this scenario and I advised him to use his partner's address for the listing. They are both owners and I'm really confident GMB does not care what is on the legal records as long as the address belongs to the business in question and they have the authority to use it.

The guideline for Service Area Businesses says "Service-area businesses—businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point. Service-area businesses can't list a "virtual" office unless that office is staffed during business hours."

Google doesn't go into details and define what the "central office" location is, nor do they say you can't change what that is.

Employees' houses are a different story. Employers don't have rights to their employees' homes and it would fall under the ineligible guideline that says not to use "a location that you don't own or have the authority to represent".
 

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