One of the biggest and most long-held complaints with Google’s Local Business Center was that it forced home-based business owners to make their home addresses public if they wanted to be included in Google Maps. Naturally, this made some people uncomfortable. Thankfully, last week Google addressed this problem with a new feature that allows businesses to define what service locations and areas they cater to in lieu of an address. That means your home address is now safe and no longer a requirement to appearing in Google Maps. Rock on.
Matt McGee covered the new feature in detail over at Search Engine Land last week, and noted that when logged in to the LBC, users will see a new tab called “Service Areas and Location Settings”. This tab will allow SMB owners to tell Google if (a) customers come to their business location or (b) if they serve customers at their locations (eg plumbers, electricians, etc). By selecting the later, small business owners will see the addition of a new Service Areas and Location Settings box.
Matt provides a screen shot, which looks like this:
Here, Google provides a box to allow small business owners to opt out of having their business address appear in Google Maps. Business owners will also have the ability to specify whether they want their business to be listed by distance from one location or by the locations they serve. Both additions are sure to win friends with SMB owners. You may remember that there was a bit of backlash last year when Google stopped allowing home-based businesses to use a PO Box as their listed address. Google assured us they were working on a new solution to calm the fears of the many SMBs obviously not wanting to make their homes public. It’s nice to see Google reacting well and giving business owners a new way to go about things.
According to Matt, the new feature is running in a limited test but “many” business owners should see this in their account soon. Hopefully with the new feature, any home-based businesses which were afraid of making their address public have now lost their excuse for not registering their business with Google. We really can’t stress enough the importance of claiming and filling out all of your local listings.
Worth noting is that while there were some early reports that taking your address off your listing caused ranking drops, that seems to have been an unrelated bug that Google is working on. So, small business owners can switch over without fear.
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What a fantastic idea! Glad Google finally listened to the little guys. However, make sure that your listing still uses geographic terms to show up on local searches.
Robert, I agree — this is a great idea. Considering there are roughly 12 Million home-based small businesses in the United States (depending on which numbers you use), it only makes sense to allow them to be listed without endangering them, their families or their property.
Finally! I had held off claiming my listing as my home is my office location but finally relented a couple months ago as I really wanted to be listed. I think I’ll change that up once the feature is available to me.
Couldn’t you use Mail Boxes Etc.’s street address, if you have a post office box? Do you think co-working spaces could be more common in the future, as a map address?
Wow that is a relief! I have never been comfortable to add my home business address in the Google ‘Local’ feature that Google has, but I think I will review my options and proceed with adding my details.
Thanks for the heads up Lisa!
Yes but is that mean when you search on google for Attorney you will get lots of little guys but no real results, And starting when will GOOGLE Local will be PAID Placement and stop the OverLoad on the Google local
The more options google gives us to customize our listings the better!
Lisa, great article! This is a very needed change in Google because there are literally tens of millions of home based businesses. This should really help a lot of people start to increase their online presence.