"Virtual Addresses / Locations" No Longer Working - But What About Residential?


consultant

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So here's my question. Of all the trends mentioned, my personal experience leads me to believe a significant trend is Google factoring in, let's call it, "contextual data" or metadata, about the location of the business that is not provided by the business themselves. This corresponds with latest Local SEO Moz Survey Respondents that said "virtual locations/addresses" no longer work.

This might be Google looking at things like:

(a) Is it a UPS Store or other Mailbox service (I think they started filtering these a long time ago)

(b) Is this the only business at this address or are their multiple businesses with the same address (not uncommon via suite numbers) but maybe a business with it's own address carries more weight?

(c) Does area around this address contain a high percentage of businesses addresses? In other words is this a commercial/industrial area?

(d) And finally, and most importantly, is this address also a residential address? Is it near the city center or in a suburb or rural area?

My question is regarding (d)

If the address isn't a mailbox service and has no other businesses listed at that address, but is a residential address and the business is exclusively a service area business, does that hurt you? Or conversely, if your address is in a commercial/industrial complex, does that help you?

So this question isn't about, is Google catching on to addresses at UPS Stores, it's more about are they giving extra weight to addresses that aren't a residential address? My informal analysis thus far is saying quite possibly, YES. But if your view of Google as a company is that they are very smart and FAIR people, the answer would have to be NO, *unless* they are factoring in the business type. Some business categories will have a much higher percentage of home based businesses than others. Is Google THAT smart to factor than it, in combination with the location context/metadata? I think still, that could be considered somewhat discriminatory, but isn't that what Google essentially does to improve search results, discriminate?

All other factors being equal (disctance, backlinks, domain authority, NAP consitency, you name it), does the plumber operating his business out of his house in the surburbs get less weight than the plumbing business with an address in the business district near the city center. AGAIN, all things being equal, meaning the distance the businesses are from the search user's location are equal, as are all other factors (reviews, etc), and the user just types "plumber near me"
 

JoyHawkins

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I can't speak for all the people that contributed to the study but when I voted that it's a less effective strategy it wasn't because I thought Google was getting better at detecting them. Google is still horrible at detecting them automatically IMO. Why it's becoming less effective is because more users are actively reporting them. I know tons of agencies that spend a large chunk of time reporting spam that is competing with their clients, which includes virtual offices.

Currently the location of the searcher is the biggest ranking factor so regardless of what type of address it is, you need to be close to the searcher to rank well *generally* speaking.
 

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