Can I Use A PO Box For My “Google My Business” Address?
Mailbag Question: I don’t want to show my business address on Google as I am a home service company and don’t want people visiting my home. Can I use a PO Box instead?
Our Answer: Great question, simple answer! No.
The most prevalent reason you will be given by other local business Google marketing professionals for not being able to use a PO box for your address is because using a PO Box is against Google’s Terms of Service.
The reason you will get from me is if you use a PO Box for your Google My Business address, you will not rank well on Google. At all.
Google wants to see a real business address because anyone can rent a PO Box. A PO Box is not a signal that you’re a legitimate business. In fact, plenty of illegitimate local businesses use to use this exact method to rank well on Google, hence why Google busted it.
Investment Is A Quality Signal
Putting your money down on an actual physical business location though is an investment in your business. Even putting your home down as your address is an investment in your business, just in a different fashion. And both of those acts show Google that you’re serious about your local business. And Google only wants to return serious businesses.
But what if you’re like the person above and don’t want to show your home address on Google – or Facebook or Yelp for that matter? Luckily, you can hide your addresses on the biggest local listing platforms out there.
99% of consumers only check 7 local business sites:
So, really, you only need to hide your address on these directories to cover yourself, all of which are possible.
When you sign up for your listing, each site will either let you omit your address entirely or there will be an option to hide the address you do input.
For instance, on Google you do have to provide an address but you have the option to hide it when you set your service area by clicking “I serve customers at their location”. This tells Google you’re what’s called a “service area business” (you serve customers at their location within a certain area) and that they should hide your address. Once you do this, Google will update in 24-48 hours and your address will be gone.
On Yellowpages, you can just omit the address completely. There is no option to check.
And you can rinse and repeat for the other listings above. They all have their own rules about this so it will be slightly different for reach one but I have faith you can find it.
Keep in mind though that Yahoo doesn’t take direct submissions anymore but takes them from Yelp & Yellowpages. It also can take 30-90 days for Yelp or Yellowpage’s data to get to Yahoo. But if your address is updated and hidden on Yelp & Yellowpages, it should be make it to Yahoo that way as well.
But What About Everywhere Else?
Unfortunately, if you do want to rank well on Google, you’re going to have to add your business information (yes, including address) to more than just the listings above. While local consumers may not look at the other 60+ local business sites you sign up for, Google will to determine how high to rank you. All factors being the same, the local business with more local listings will generally rank the highest. So, what do you do?
Unfortunately, you’ll probably just have to suck it up.
Most of the other local listing sites out there do not allow you to hide your address. Why? Because most of them aren’t very sophisticated. Local listing sites don’t make a ton of money (even Yelp is struggling to do so) and sophistication follows money. Since there’s not a lot of money in local listing sites, most of them won’t provide a high level of user experience and, worse than that, any level of customer service period. So, while the “Big 7” we mentioned will allow you to hide your address, now you understand why all of the others more than likely won’t. They just don’t have the function and aren’t interested in adding it.
So, if they don’t have the capability, you’re forced to just go with the flow and add your business address.
However, you can still console yourself with the fact that since 99% of consumers will only find you on the Big 7, 99% of consumers won’t find your address anyway! Which is good news.
At the end of the day, what it boils down to is just taking the plunge. If you’re serious about your business and ranking well on Google, you will have to shell out some money for an actual location or just double down on your business investment and prepare to list your home as your physical address.
Or, you can just decide to not rank well on Google. Because if you use a PO Box as your address, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
If you have any follow up questions please post them in the comments below. We see your comments, respond to them, and may even ask your permission to turn them into our next Local Business Marketing Mailbag!