Google Places - UPS Verified Listings in Trouble
Google now requires that all businesses verify their listing with a real physical address. Meaning you may no longer use a UPS box even though this is considered a physical address by legal standards. Accounts verified through a UPS box are at risk of being suspended.
If you have clients who operate from their home and who do not wish to disclose this information you can check the "hide my location" box.
Good post Chris, I've heard a lot of talk around the camp fire about this before, but never knew where Google stood exactly.
Sounds like we are using scare tactics... suspended / black listed. Let's unpack this for our community. What is the situation here... Google is probably going to stop showing their business on the map if they check that "hide my location" box. So... aren't they basically just going to opt-in to being suspended?
I'd say let Google try to sort this out and for the mean time don't check that box.
If you are starting from scratch... I'd say follow the instructions and select "hide my location." You probably don't have a result now so I wouldn't advise filling out the profile incorrectly.
What do others think? Eric?
I think I used a triple negative in that last sentence. Let me clarify... if you are starting from scratch and you don't have a retail/office address... then I would select "hide my location."
If you are already in the results with a UPS/post office box or residential address... I'd think twice about self-reporting. Google probably will catch you but in the meantime start looking for some cheap office space :)
Great question, and the ban of PO boxes and UPS boxes has been around for quite a few months. If you are to verify your Google+ Local (formerly known as Google Places), please do not use a PO Box. This will get your page, and possibly the entire account suspended by Google. Once it is suspended, it will take many months of hard work which may or may not even get it back.
The reason Google doesn't want you to use a PO box and instead use a PHYSICAL address is because they want a good user experience. When you make your address as a PO box you are essentially telling Google and Google users "hey, my business is located in a tiny square box." When a user uses Google to find a business, typically they are trying to find that business and actually visit it. So when they find the address and are directed to a UPS store instead of the actual business, you can see where people will get a little upset.
The proposed fix to this is verify and use your ACTUAL address. For some of you this means using your own home address (since you visit people at their location), and like Chris said above, there is a way to hide your location from searchers. You simply click the bubble that says "yes, I visit customers at their location" then you check the box that says "hide my location" and then set either a radius or specific cities you are able to do business in.
Sorry this is such a long post, but I wanted to make sure everyone had the correct information on this topic. Don't worry, there has been no evidence that suggests that hiding your address will effect your listing negatively in the local SERPs. If you don't see customers at your location or its a home business and you don't want to show the world where you live, hide your address.
I'm pretty active on the Google forums and I've seen a lot of businesses that have gotten accounts suspended. It's not fun, and really not fun when it happens to you.
So this creates an interesting issue for me and my customers. Where I am located, Jackson Hole, we are considered a "resort area" by the post office (imagine that) which means they have very limited street delivery of mail. It is almost entirely post office boxes. So if I understand this correctly there is basically no way for businesses that do not currently have a Google+ Local Page to set one up. For those of us who slipped in before the out and out ban on po boxes we are now subject to suspension? Nice. Thank you Google!
No most businesses can get a Google+ Local page, they just don't want you to verify using a PO Box. Like I had mentioned, Google wants people to be able to find you. How would you feel if I told you to come visit me, I have this amazing product, only to have you show up at a UPS store? Google+ Local is NOT a directory. Just to clarify, it is not a place where everyone can simply list their business. It is a product designed to help people find local businesses quicker and easier than simply finding a website that may or may not solve their need. If your business is a "resort" then yes you can have a Google+ page, and I strongly encourage you to get one. Google doesn't care whether you receive mail at your place of business or not, they just want to make sure you are physically there. This is a security check to foil spammers and frauds trying to game the system.
Each situation is different and thus it is very difficult to try to generalize complicated rules (which Google has plenty of) :-).
Let me put it this way, if you are a business that serves the local public, but you receive all your mail through a PO Box, that is fine. What you need to do is verify through your PHYSICAL address. Make sure your Google page lists your physical address, not your PO Box, and you're ok. Am I correct in guessing that mail will get re-routed to the po box if it is sent to your address? Or will it be sent to the business location?
Google wants the people who search for you to be able to find your business. If you serve customers at your location, well what better way to get more customers than to list the physical address? If you see customers at their location, you just need to hide the location so people searching for you don't end up coming to your house and expect you to provide service.
If I had to drive across town to get to something I need, I certainly don't want to show up at someone's house only to tell me I need to call them and they will come to me. :-)
Okay, so you hide your address on Google+ Local page. But what about the citations on the 100's of other local directories? What address should be published on those sites.... the PO box, PO address, or home address?
Unfortunately no, that is exactly the problem. Mail sent to a physical address here is returned to sender as undeliverable. All mail must be addressed to the po box for the post office to attempt to deliver it. So unless I can put a physical address AND a po box in the listing, my clients will never get the verification cards.
Just to clarify, my business is not a "resort." The entire COUNTY where I live and work and where almost all of my clients are located is considered a "resort area" by the post office. Because resort areas have large seasonal populations and a lot of people moving in and out of the area on a regular basis, the USPS decided they didn't want to do street delivery of mail in these types of areas.
So despite the fact that most of my clients are bricks and mortar type businesses with true physical addresses they cannot get a Google+ Local Page. Does anyone know a way around this?
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