Hide Your Address on Google Places Q & A


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Hi All,

So, it's well documented now that hiding the address is vital for businesses that serve customers at their locations:

Why You May Need To Hide Your Google Places Address ASAP | SEOmoz

However, I'm now doing this for the first time and have a few questions:

Is the whole address supposed to be dissapearing?
Does this effect the the citations you have for the address?

I understand that it's necessary to do, but how does it change the other factors? And how does it change the citations you have already built, the address on the website etc?

Thanks in advance
 
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Great questions Nick!

And yes hiding your address, per the Google Guidelines is MANDATORY! In my opinion hundreds of thousands of listings have been deleted. Many have been down for months. AND even businesses that tried to start over with a new listing in a new account have not been able to get a listing back up. So this is VERY serious business.

When in doubt HIDE YOUR ASS (address) is my advice!

Now on to answering some of your Qs.

Q - Is the whole address supposed to be dissapearing?

A - Yes, the whole street address but city, state will still show.

Added point - Also the map marker will move to the center of the zip or area you select in the service radius selection. And it will change shape and be a circle instead of teardrop.

IMPORTANT POINT - After you hide address, it can take about a week or so for the live listing to update to reflect the change

UBER IMPORTANT POINT - Even after you hide address and it updates, your client COULD still get a moderation call and be deleted. I believe the moderators in India are working off outdated lists and NOT the live maps listing. So still need to coach them that if they get a call, need to be short, direct and emphatic. "No I don't see customers here BUT I already updated my listing to HIDE my address. My listing meets the guidelines, please do not delete it!"

Q - Does this effect the the citations you have for the address?

A - My suspicion is that this does not affect citations. Google still knows the address INSIDE the dashboard, even if it's hidden on live listing. (Similar to the fact that you can still rank #1 for categories in your dashboard even though Google stopped showing those on the live Page too.)

Q - I understand that it's necessary to do, but how does it change the other factors? And how does it change the citations you have already built, the address on the website etc?

A - The main thing that changes is the display, both on the listing and on maps. I have not seen a big change in ranking. In fact I've shared an example where the top 3 A, B, C in one market are all hidden and the lower listings all have addresses displayed. (Cant remember the query but can find it if anyone wants me to.)

I think you should still build full citations and have full NAP on site that matches what's in dash.

The only question I get about this, which you have not asked but other's have, that I don't have a good answer for.

ADDED Q - What if I have a client who works from home and does not want their address displayed on any citation sites or anywhere on the web? Most of the citation sites require an address. How do I build citations for a G+ L page with hidden address if home address is in dash but they don't want home address in citations?

A - I don't know. :p

Any other hide your ass* (address) Qs I can answer? :p
(I think I have answers for most Qs except for that last one.)

Any other thoughts, tips or experiences to share???
 
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Linda, I had not heard this ::eek:

Even after you hide address and it updates, your client COULD still get a moderation call and be deleted. I believe the moderators in India are working off outdated lists and NOT the live maps listing. So still need to coach them that if they get a call, need to be short, direct and emphatic. "No I don't see customers here BUT I already updated my listing to HIDE my address. My listing meets the guidelines, please do not delete it!"

Outdated lists! Yikes!

Nick - thanks for reading my piece at SEOmoz. Hope it was helpful.
 
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Linda, I had not heard this ::eek:

Even after you hide address and it updates, your client COULD still get a moderation call and be deleted. I believe the moderators in India are working off outdated lists and NOT the live maps listing.
Yep Miriam have mentioned several times in other posts and explain in detail in my training that consultants need to coach their clients on how to handle these calls, but go into a lot more detail.

IT HAPPENED TO ME!
2 weeks AFTER I hid my address I got the dreaded call from India. He kept saying in broken English "Oh I see, you DON'T see clients at this address!" I kept repeating "NO but I ALREADY hid my address and am in compliance" He just kept repeating - "Oh I see, you DON'T see clients at this address - correct?"

I kept repeating "NO but I ALREADY hid my address and am in compliance" and then finally kinda yelled and said DO not delete my listing. I am in compliance and work with Vanessa and Joel. I still don't think he understood or knew who they were.

But I guarantee if I didn't know what was going on and responded like the average SMB would have and just said, "no I don't see customers here" - I would have gotten whacked!
 
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My gosh, that sounds like a fun conversation! :p One worth recording and playing back for Google on your blog!
 
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Re: Hide Your Address on Google Places Q & A

That's really quite terrifying Linda, as the average small business owner wouldn't know what to say and it wouldn't be nice to be "whacked" as a result of it. I don't actually think it's fair for Google to make business owners jump through these hoops (just as Miriam says in the SEOMoz post). It's confusing enough for us SEOs as shown above.

Thanks very much Linda for your in-depth answers to my questions. I personally found the "hiding of the address" quite scary to initiate as it looks like the citation (NAP) matching is going to disappear, and I didn't want to assume that Google is monitoring the dashboard. :confused: As long as that is the case, I can relax a little about it.:)

Miriam: Thanks for the great article on SEOMoz - it was a great early warning system for a lot of people.

---------- Post Merged at 08:36 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 08:33 PM ----------

Another thing about that conversation. It sounds like he was constantly trying to trip you up and get the listing deleted. Awful! What a way to treat business owners!
 
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Sorry, I've got another question/query about the "hiding address" scenario.

Miriam: it was touched upon in the comments of your article. About the Real Estate Agency that has an office (very well signed and publicised!) and serves customers at the office and at locations.

Is it best for this business to choose "customers come to the business location"?

In other words, it's a business that does both. But, there isn't an option for that!:eek:
 
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I personally found the "hiding of the address" quite scary to initiate as it looks like the citation (NAP) matching is going to disappear, and I didn't want to assume that Google is monitoring the dashboard. :confused: As long as that is the case, I can relax a little about it.:)
That's an assumption on my part Nick BUT a strong one.

Sorry, I've got another question/query about the "hiding address" scenario.

Miriam: it was touched upon in the comments of your article. About the Real Estate Agency that has an office (very well signed and publicised!) and serves customers at the office and at locations.

Is it best for this business to choose "customers come to the business location"?

In other words, it's a business that does both. But, there isn't an option for that!:eek:
Here is my general rule of thumb, BUT every situation is unique.

This guideline from what I've seen AND the moderation team that whacks listings seems to be focused on 2 things primarily:

1) Industries that traditionally only go out to clients (carpet cleaners, exterminators, taxis, movers, plumbers and others that are similar.) Another one that gets hit a lot that can be outbound OR inbound (with a studio) is photographers.

2) Home-based, residential locations.

For the most part, the businesses I see getting whacked meet both criteria above.

BUT there are exceptions to every rule. For instance most accountants have offices SO likely that's not an industry that's targeted. BUT if you have an accountant that does work from home, then he falls under #2 and I would hide address and be compliant.

On the FLIP SIDE and something I run into often is for instance a carpet cleaner - which G would classify as service area only business, because you have to go to someone's house to clean their carpet. I've seen some argue "But we have customers drop off rugs here, so we DO see customers here and want to be on maps." My advice in that case is be safe, not sorry and hide it.

If a moderator looks on maps - does it look like a house? HIDE IT! They don't always call any more. Sometimes they just whack. A moderator looking at a house on maps, is not going to know you sometimes have clients come to house. PLUS is someone always there to accept walk-in traffic - even when the owner/carpet cleaner is out on call?

Back to the Q Nick asked "About the Real Estate Agency that has an office". I would say, if they have a commercial office that is staffed during business hours - no need to hide address. They don't meet either criteria in #1 or #2.

HOWEVER if was a case of a single Realtor, no secretary and he/she is ALWAYS out with customers and the office is almost always closed except by appt, then maybe they should hide.

So again every case is different.
 
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Thanks for all of the valuable information Linda.

On the last point, I am speaking about a fully staffed Real Estate Agency office, that can have visitors come in off the street, so like a proper shop.

In this case, is it best for it to have "customers come to the business location"? So, it does both but people can very much walk in, but it also serves people at locations.

This stuff is actually very tricky for the business owner to decide as most of them want to give the most accurate answer.
 
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Nick, I agree with Linda's assessment of the realtor. We are all making best guesses here, of course, but her hunch strikes me as making sense.

Linda - yes, that is tricky with the carpet cleaning companies who also do area rugs. People definitely do come to their businesses, but I fear the hamfisted-ness of Google on this. That would be a really nice industry to get personal feedback from Jade on.
 
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Ok, thanks both for all of this great information.

Next question: If a business does get hidden/deleted/removed because of failing to hide their address, what is the best procedure on getting the visibility back?

I'm assuming that it's a bit late at that point to hide the address?

This hasn't happened to any of my clients yet, but I heard from someone today who is panicking about it.
 
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Another great question Nick!

All they can do is, hide address to get in compliance, then request re-consideration by using the troubleshooter to report missing listing. Just hiding it won't trigger a come back, they need to contact support.

However I'm still not seeing listings come back after being removed. Last support email I read on this they were still saying that bringing removed listings back is a problem and they are working on it. (For months now!) :rolleyes:

AND I'm not even seeing listings come back for folks who initially took Google's old (bad) advice to delete and start over. It's kinda like the whole location or something in NAP is black listed because even setting up a new account does not help. (That is from what I've seen and I admit I don't see everything but TRY to scan all the posts at the G forum about this and others like Jim, Andrew and Keenan agree, they've not seen any listings successfully re-created after getting whacked for not hiding address.)
 
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Thanks Linda, and finally, maybe an easy one...

How can you tell if Google has gone and "whacked" you? Made the listing disappear?

Will the listing not be visible at all on G-Places?
 
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That's another really good question. I assume everyone knows some of this but if you don't read the G forum all the time or have not personally dealt with it you wouldn't.

SO I'm glad you keep me grounded and ask me this stuff Nick, because I'm sure others want to know as well.

The 1st tell tale sign that normally makes people think they have a problem is, when you click view my listing from within he dashboard, you get the "do not support location" screen.

HOWEVER you can see that screen due to other violations OR when listing is brand new OR sometimes it's just the view link in dash is not syncing and the listing itself is fine.

So next step if you get "do not support" is to do a maps search via phone and if no listing try name + city. If the listing is GONE then you have a problem.

You still don't know for sure WHY the listing was deleted, as "do not support" is like the new "suspended" sign and shows up for other violations. BUT if you are sure no violations AND it's a residential location AND address was not hidden, pretty good bet that was the problem.

So next troubleshooting step would be to search via phone on Map Maker and see if by chance the listing is there so you can check history. Sometimes you can see a bot or Googler deleted it or something IF it's another issue. BUT if it's totally whacked, due to the hide your ass violation, it normally will not show on MM either.
 
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Thanks for the great comprehensive information Linda. Myself and lots of others are lucky to have you clarifying things like this for us.:)

I think already in this thread, a lot of important information has been spelled out. This "hiding address" thing/issue came to light earlier this year and I've tried to use this thread to understand it fully. Miriam's article from SEOMoz as well as this post gives the required information on this topic.
 

Mike Wilton

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This guideline from what I've seen AND the moderation team that whacks listings seems to be focused on 2 things primarily:

1) Industries that traditionally only go out to clients (carpet cleaners, exterminators, taxis, movers, plumbers and others that are similar.) Another one that gets hit a lot that can be outbound OR inbound (with a studio) is photographers.
I'm just now starting to work more and more with service area businesses. So in the event of an exterminator, you would say even if they have a physical location that people could visit to sign up for services, it is still be practice to hide their location correct? The whole "hide your address" element seems so poorly structured that I just want to make sure.
 
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Hi Mike,

TECHNICALLY if they have a walk-in commercial office that is staffed during business hours they can show address.

However IMO there is still a high risk they'll be deleted. Because if it's a business like an exterminator, a Google moderator or mapper could just assume they should hide address.

1st they'll look on maps with Sat view and street view. If it looks like it's a house, it's all over. If it looks like a nice office building one would not expect an exterminator to be in, they may get suspicious or think it's a virtual office or something. If it's looks on maps like more of a commercial or warehouse type location they also may question if it's customer facing.

So if they aren't sure they may call. If they call they sometimes don't identify as Google and sometimes ask misleading questions like "Is this a storefront". If the secretary truthfully answers "No this is not a storefront" - they just hang up and delete.

So IMO the risk is not worth it. BUT if you look on maps and the location looks just right and especially if there is a sign you can see from maps with office hours, you 'may' be safe. But I still would not risk potentially being down for months, it if it were my client. If they insist, I would require a written disclaimer that I explained the risk and they understand and want to bypass my recommendation.
 

Mike Wilton

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Thanks a lot Linda. Definitely clears things up. I think that might explain why one of the listings I am dealing with wound up in the "we do not support this location" fiasco. I'm going to have to go back through all of these and see which ones look like a decent location and ones that appear to be a bit off the beaten path.

Really appreciate the insight. The whole hiding of the address has always been a bit unclear to me, but I am having to wrap my head around it now that I actually have a service based business client.

Your help is always appreciated. Thank you again!
 

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