JustinB

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Hi guys,
Had a question for you guys on what is the best of the lesser of two evils, and no I am not talking about the elections;-)

I have a client that has his PO BOX address listed on his site (but it looks like an actual address, no 'PO BOX'). We were going to do a gmb page for him and hide his real address as a service page. But when it comes to making citations for his business, it won't be the house/service area address, it will be the post office address.
What would you guys do in this situation?

1. Create a GMB service page with no listed address, and build citations with his post office address on his site?
pros: it will be consistent with his site's address he displays
cons: there will be citation inconsistency between his gmb and others out there

2. Create a service page with no listed address, and only do citations that allow privatization of addresses?

Found some sites for setting these up:
https://www.brightlocal.com/2014/07/10/citation-sites-allow-hide-address/
Can You Rank Well in Local Google without Revealing Your Street Address Anywhere? | LocalVisibilitySystem.com
Private Local Citations: Where Can You List Your Business But ?Hide? Your Address? | LocalVisibilitySystem.com

Most of our clients for local seo have brick and mortar, or do not mind having their house address listed for a service page. What does everyone here do for the cautious clients?
Appreciate any replies and advice!

p.s. I did a citation audit and found 2 citations he created earlier with his actual address! That could prove inconsistent regardless of the two options above.
 
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Broland

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The PO Box addresses, even those that give you an actual street address, are known to not work for verifying a business on Google. I'm fairly certain they have a sort of blacklist of pretty much all of them. Of course there is only one true way to really find out for your specific case and that is by trying it out.

But furthermore, using one of those addresses isn't within their guidelines. As Linda is always preaching, you are better off playing by their rules and not risking a sudden removal at anytime. What they want for service area businesses is the address of where home base is, and the company vehicle is parked at night.

What I recommend to clients in these situations, where it's a home address they don't want easily found on the web, is to just hide the address on the main sites you can such as Yelp, but include it on other lower traffic sites. I've always been able to convince them this is the best route when I explain that it will make it easier to rank in search results.

You don't need to have the address on the website either. Sure it can help, but having the phone number, an outbound link to the G+ page or Google maps listing, along with other "citations" around the web that link to the main website can cover that factor just the same from my vast experience and knowledge on this.

Another thing I'm pretty certain that works almost as well, if not being exactly the same as far as "citation data" is just using the street address without a building number. So on the website and some sites that don't allow you to hide an address you can put "main st" for the address as opposed to "123 main st" for example. (Be sure to use the form of St, Street, Rd, Road, etc that Google recognizes and corrects it to when typed into Google maps). Many people would probably argue that, and I would have a year or so ago, but I have good reasons to believe this is actually the way it is now. Plus your phone number (just don't use a format with periods as separators) and linking to the main site are the best identifiers for a business/location, and other factors such as optimizing profiles, unique content on them, updating them, and getting reviews seem to be far ahead of having a building number, if it is even a factor at all - so you should be able to rank just fine without it. ;)
 

JustinB

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I totally get the No PO BOX with gmb addresses, I was just wondering for OTHER citation sites. I figured I would make his gmb page his home address as a service page, with no address showing, and then just use the po box address for the other citations.
Also, he won't budge on having his real address for citations (low traffic or otherwise).

His address on his site looks like (I switched out the numbers and randomized the street and city):

[h=3]0000 South 178th #101
Cleveland, OH 44114[/h]You would never know that was a Post office or POBox, so I figured we could use it on the other citation sites...damned if you do, damned if you dont.
 

Eric Rohrback

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I wouldn't do the PO Box, because that's directly against Google's guidelines. If you want to play with fire, then go ahead and do it but be aware that your client could get suspended. If you're doing that strictly for citations, then I think you need to re-evaluate the strategy. There are plenty of sites that allow you to hide the address, so I would just focus on those. Google will be the main driver of "map" traffic, so focus on what you can control. Build citations on sites that will allow a hidden address, then move on to other areas of the program.

p.s. I did a citation audit and found 2 citations he created earlier with his actual address! That could prove inconsistent regardless of the two options above.

Since the info is already out there, it's most likely spreading to sites all over the web. Also, if the client officially registered the business with the city/state using the home address then you can expect to see the home address popping up quite a bit. These sites don't just buy data from axiom/infogroup/localeze, they take data from government entities. If your client thinks their home address can't be connected to the business... well.. that might be a discussion worth having to set the record straight. It's not an inherently bad thing, just a fact of the game.
 

JustinB

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I wouldn't do the PO Box, because that's directly against Google's guidelines.

I wasn't going to use his po box for his gmb page, just other citation sites that wanted an address. That's not against google's guidelines for a po box to appear on other sites that I recall..
 

Eric Rohrback

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No, but you're introducing another datapoint into the "ecosystem" which could cause other problems down the road. I've seen some companies cause real issues by going that route, so really think through the long term strategy before you implement.

If you're using a PO box on some citations, but not others then you're going to see data inconsistency issues down the road. You also need to consider how many other companies (not the mention the UPS store or w/e you're using) are doing the same thing.

I personally wouldn't do it because of the potential headaches i'm fairly sure will pop up sooner or later, but everyone is in a different situation. If you have a team or have a contract with another company to handle citation issues already in place, then data consistency might be controllable.
 

JustinB

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I hear that, I had the same concerns. I guess private it is! Appreciate everyone on the forum taking the time to come together to give good advice!
 
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