In Back to Basics #6, we covered the importance of small businesses being listed across local directories such as Yellow Pages, eLocal, Brownbook, Manta, White Spark, and others. This process is easiest to do for those businesses that have a brick-and-mortar store: A boutique, hair salon, supply store, or car repair shop, for example. But what if you’re a contractor working from your home or you provide virtual shopping services? You don’t want to list your home address because you live there and want to keep that information private—so will you still be able to list your business effectively so that your customers can find you?
Listing your business without an address: Not as difficult as you think.
The great news is that it’s perfectly acceptable to Google to list your small business without an address. Now, this isn’t to say everyone should do this—first, think of your industry. If you have a store, you will want to make sure that your customers can find you; in this case, it's a pretty straight-forward decision--leave your address visible. If you are a mobile notary or car washing service and you have a small office but you also serve your clients away from the office, you may choose to indicate that as well. If you work from your own home, it’s understandable why you would want to keep that information private. So as you can see, it all depends on what you deem to be the best for your particular set of services.
Once you’ve made your decision to keep your small business’s address hidden from Google, the next step is filling out your listing. In the next part of this post, we’ll discuss filling out your Google Places information.
Filling out your Google Places Page information
As you can see, when you set up your Google Places page, you have the option to check a little box that says you deliver services to an address. This would be the choice that you would want to make if you wanted to hide your address. If you also serve people from an office, you can select the “I also serve customers at my business address” box to show that you do both.
You can find all of this information on your Google Places page when you edit your address. It can easily be changed whenever you choose—so if you make a mistake or want to come back later and change things, it’s simple to do.
Hiding your address on other local directories
As we discussed, Google isn’t the only place you’re going to want to list your business. Other places such as SuperPages, HotFrog, Localeze, and eLocal will also have options to hide your address. When you claim your business listing, you can opt to leave off your address to ensure you keep your private information private. You may have to do some more searching on these sites—it’s not always apparent right away where these options are.
Now, in the past, there has been some debate as to whether Google will penalize any business that hides their business. Some articles claim businesses that provide services such as plumbing MUST hide addresses or risk disappearing from search results; others claim that every home-based business must keep their address visible or risk disappearing from search results. But these are now old articles, and this system has been in place long enough that it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue anymore.
The important point to remember here is that some business owners need to hide their information for safety or privacy reasons. This should not interfere with your rankings, and it is certainly not intended to be a way to punish small business owners who want to keep their information private. It’s there to protect you—so if you want to keep that information hidden, do not be concerned about it affecting rankings.
Getting assistance with local listings for small businesses
Whether you do or don’t want to hide your business’s address, Internet Local Listings can help you ensure you’re making the most of your listings. We ensure all data is optimized for your industry and listed correctly across all the most popular directories. If you have concerns about privacy, we’d be happy to work with you. After all, everyone should be able to rank on the first page if they work hard enough for it—whether or not they have a physical address to list. Give us a call at (888) 770-3950 or fill out our contact form today to get more information on our services. Let us know what we can do for you!