hinegrills

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Hi!

I've been using Google local for over four years now and have been under the impression that you can only have a Google page when you have a physical location, however recently I have seen numerous online only estate agents in the UK creating Google local pages when they don't have a branch.

These pages don't have addresses they simply just list the town/city name and have a radius they cover. Is this allowed as, like I said, they do not have physical offices or branches as they are online estate agents.

Some examples include:
https://goo.gl/maps/Ca23XFdCHmp
https://goo.gl/maps/kKYqCRcDRes
https://goo.gl/maps/DJTFhEVnmqu

Many Thanks!
 

chadkimball

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officially it is against the rules.

but real estate agents, service area businesses etc resort to that tactic because there is no other reliable way to rank in google maps for a city where you dont have a physical address.

Eventually, if you dont do it right, these will get deleted. If you know what you're doing they can last for years though.
 
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Hi Hinegrills,

To expand on what Chad said, here's what Google's official guidelines have to say about this:

Service-area businesses?businesses that serve customers at their locations?should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point. Service-area businesses can't list a "virtual" office unless that office is staffed during business hours.

and:

Brands, organizations, artists, and other online-only businesses aren't eligible for Google My Business listings.

In other words, if those online realtors meet with clients on location ever, they're allowed, but if it's an online only service where the closest point of customer contact is on the phone, than they're not entitled to a listing.

If I'm reading your post right, the subtext is that you're wondering whether or not your competition is 'cheating' and making it harder for you to rank your own valid business in your actual city. When it comes to fake offices, Google actually is pretty good about taking action when you report spam. You should absolutely do a little research and see if your service area competition is cheating or not. Check their website: do they have an address showing there that's in another city? Do a search for their brand name: do they have multiple listings in different cities? You get the idea. I absolutely spam hunt for all my clients, it's an easy way to bump valid companies up a few notches if they're showing below an invalid listing.

Just to make things clear... having a hidden address IS okay for many kinds of business, so don't assume that just because there's a service area showing and the actual street address is hidden, that means the listing is spam. It can mean there's a valid business that just doesn't see customers at a central office, and meets with them elsewhere instead. So make sure you do your proper research before reporting your competition.

Joy wrote a great guide for spam hunting. How to spot a spam listing, what kind of proof you should document, where you should report it, and how to follow up to make sure action is taken to knock them back where they belong.
 
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