Rented mailboxes and local business centres now getting caught by Google Local?

What’s up with Google Places? Your Google Places Listing Not Showing?

Most of us are aware of the confusion and uncertainty brought about by the transition from Google Places to Google + Local and are patiently waiting for Google to roll out the changes that will (hopefully) see our listings restored.

But, in the meantime have you noticed that some of your listings are no longer being displayed?

If you are one of those businesses who has used  a local business service centre or mail box rental office to create an address in another location then that may be your downfall.

There is mounting evidence to suggest that Google is blocking local listings for businesses using these business service centres and mail box addresses.

This could be bad news for small businesses that have invested in renting mailboxes or office space with a view to using them for little more than establishing credibility within Google Local.

We did an experiment where we took the address of one of these mail box service centres, and we did a search for the address in Google – a number of business names came up. We then did a local search in the relevant area for the types of businesses, and none were displayed.

To make it clearer let’s assume there is a mail box facility at 12 West Avenue, West Brightsides (wherever that may be). We then searched for this address and found a plumber, a builder and a locksmith with this address on their websites, or listed in various directories using this address. We then did a search in Google Maps for “plumber West Brightsides”, and our guy did not show up at all!

So, the Google index has the various website pages that have the address on their pages. BUT, Google Local refuses to acknowledge the existence of that same address.

This, together with the fact that Places statistics are showing no activity suggests that these addresses may have been blocked by Google.

Google has long tried to address the issue of fictitious addresses being used for creating Places listings in order to improve visibility in a given area. This is just one more step in that process.

There is no doubt that there will be businesses who will suffer as a consequence, and maybe some who flagrantly flout these rules will slip through the cracks.

Our advice is – play by the rules – it’s just not worth the risk

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Ian Smith
Dr Ian Smith

32 years of marketing experience to help small businesses understand the world of website marketing.