Google explicitly defines what you can and can’t do when optimizing your Google Business profile.
In this article, we will go through Google’s guidelines and explain what is the best option for your specific case.
And also explain how to go about creating citations – which are a very important ranking factor for local SEO – if you don’t want to reveal your address.
Local SEO for Service-Area Businesses.
Google clearly defines a services-area business in the guidelines: “a business that visits or delivers to customers directly but doesn’t serve customers at their business address.”
These can include plumbers, electricians, landscapers, cleaning services, pest control services, HVAC contractors, home health care services, mobile car wash and detailing services, catering services, home security and alarm services, etc.
For service-area businesses, if you don’t have a storefront staffed with your team to receive customers during your opening hours, you should hide your address.
You can select “No address” in your Google Business profile and then select your services area. You can select up to 20 different service areas.
Google allows you to create one Google Business account for each metropolitan area that you serve.
Google also defines a hybrid business in the guidelines: “a business that serves customers at their business address but also directly visits or delivers to customers.”
This could be a dine-in restaurant that also delivers food.
For a hybrid business, you can list the location where you welcome your customers and the area you serve.
Local SEO for Home-Based Businesses.
If you work from home, hiding your address can be reasonable for privacy measures.
If you have a home-based business, you should follow the guidelines for services-area businesses.
You can verify your Google Business listing using your home address.
After your business is verified, Google will let you hide your physical address from the public eye.
Local SEO for Virtual Business.
If your business is completely online, and you don’t live in the city that you want to select as your service area, unfortunately, you’re ineligible for a Google Business profile.
Virtual Office and P.O. Boxes.
To verify a Google Business profile, you need a mailing address.
You might have come across the idea to use a virtual office or a P.O. box.
A virtual office is a service that some companies offer.
They provide you with a business address with a unique suite number. You can use this address to receive mail, and then the company will send you the scan.
Google specifically mentions virtual offices and P.O. boxes in the guidelines: “If your business rents a physical mailing address but doesn’t operate out of that location, also known as a virtual office, that location isn’t eligible for a Business Profile.”
Local Content to Win Local Keywords.
Without a Google Business profile, you can’t compete for the local map pack, but you can compete for organic search.
To compete for a prominent spot in the organic search results, you don’t have to have a physical location in the area that you’re targeting.
All you need is a website with locally optimized content.
How to Create Local Citations Without an Address?
Citations are your NAP information (business name, address, and prone number) across the web.
They’re imperative for local SEO as they help Google understand that you are a real business.
So, how can you build citations if you don’t want your address to be revealed?
For the most part, you need citations to establish your legitimacy as a business in the eyes of Google, not for people to find your business.
Real people don’t go on these local directories to find local businesses.
So you can consider using your real address.
On the most popular business directories like Facebook, Yelp, Bing, Yellowpages, etc., you can hide your address as well as on your Google Business profile.
Those are the places where real people are actually looking for products or services, and you can establish your presence there without revealing your physical location.
It’s very important not to go against Google guidelines, as it can get your Google Business profile suspended, which will indelibly hinder your local SEO campaign.
Make sure to read the guidelines to make sure you’re doing everything right.