virens

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Hi everyone.

A large portion of our customers have competitors with GMB listings that fall into this scenario, as described in Google's SAB guidelines:

A business that visits or delivers to customers, but doesn't serve customers at its business address (e.g. a plumber or cleaning service).

As you might expect, most of the competitors fall into one/both of these categories:
  1. Spammy business names
  2. Not set up as an SAB, but should be
It's clear that Google wants us to suggest edits first, which makes sense. I'm happy with the process for name editing, too. I'm less clear on SAB v fixed location.

Previously, I've gone straight to the redressal form to report an 'address' issue with these SABs, i.e. they are not business premises. However, I'm now wondering if I should be suggesting an edit first. IMO, the most logical option is to mark it as 'closed' because it's a private dwelling. This doesn't feel quite right, though.

Looking forward to anyone's advice.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Clarifying question: are you asking what you should be doing if the SAB hasn't hidden their address? Or if the SAB isn't actually located at the location they say they're located at?
 

virens

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Clarifying question: are you asking what you should be doing if the SAB hasn't hidden their address? Or if the SAB isn't actually located at the location they say they're located at?

Thanks - it's the scenario where the SAB hasn't hidden their address.

I should also clarify that by potentially marking them as 'closed' as an option, I actually meant marking them as 'doesnt exist'.
 

Colan Nielsen

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What are the addresses? Residential?

If the listing is non owner-verified, you shouldn't have an issue reporting it.
These listings wouldn’t be allowed on Maps since they aren’t an actual mapped place that a user would need directions to. You would remove it by doing the following:

  1. Pull up the business listing on Google Maps (*Not the Local Finder)
  2. Press “Suggest an Edit”
  3. Switch the toggle beside “Place is permanently closed” to Yes
  4. Click “Never Existed”


If the listing is verified you can try using the Redressal form but my experience is that Google doesn't often take action in that scenario.
 

virens

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What are the addresses? Residential?

If the listing is non owner-verified, you shouldn't have an issue reporting it.
These listings wouldn’t be allowed on Maps since they aren’t an actual mapped place that a user would need directions to. You would remove it by doing the following:

  1. Pull up the business listing on Google Maps (*Not the Local Finder)
  2. Press “Suggest an Edit”
  3. Switch the toggle beside “Place is permanently closed” to Yes
  4. Click “Never Existed”


If the listing is verified you can try using the Redressal form but my experience is that Google doesn't often take action in that scenario.

Yes, they are residential addresses and largely not verified, so I'll go with your approach.

Thanks, Colan.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Are you sure you're reporting businesses that legitimately don't exist at said address?
 

virens

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Thanks, both. Just to clarify the normal state of them:
  • These businesses are mostly tradesmen, so plumbers, electricians, etc.
  • The business location on maps is a residential address (I'd imagine, also where their businesses are legally registered)
  • I have confirmed that you cannot visit the location as a customer, and their service is not carried out at home
  • Inevitably, I would imagine they do complete some work at home though, i.e. admin/paperwork
  • They aren't verified on GMB
 

JoshuaMackens

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Hey Joshua, if they are unverified and at a residential address then they automatically qualify to be removed from maps.

I understand that but whether under Google's TOS or not, in the process you may be removing completely legitimate businesses. I'm not sure I would do that without 100% proof that they do not exist at that address.

While many of them probably don't exist there, you will inevitably catch a few real businesses. The only ones you are likely to look for will be ones that rank decently well (otherwise, you would be wasting your time reporting them) and you will be costing perfectly legitimate businesses real revenue.

Whether they're verified or not shouldn't matter. Especially with tradesmen. Most especially with tradesmen. They don't know what they're doing internet marketing wise and I wouldn't be surprised to see that most of them at residential addresses don't have their pages claimed.

I would recommend you make 100% sure they do not exist. The best thing would be to provide an edit to hide the business address but I don't think you're able to do that currently.

Google needs to update their policy on that. If I was a tradesman and found out someone nixed my GMB listing because I didn't claim my profile I would be furious.

Just food for thought.
 

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Hey Joshua, point taken. This is the bigger picture as far as Google is concerned. And we need to remember that this IS Google's world, which doesn't always align with reality.

It’s important for service area businesses to remember that home-based SABs without storefronts are not permitted on Google Maps. To clarify, Google My Business allows them to get around this by having the option to hide the address. Hiding the address keeps the listing from having a marker on the Map and thus satisfies both parties (both Maps and Google My Business).

This means that if you find a business listing that is not owner-verified and is for a service area business that does not have a storefront, it should be removed. There are 2 scenarios I normally see for this.

First are the unverified listings that are missing an address all together. They usually list the city name, and the map marker often gets plotted somewhere randomly in the city. These cases are usually for listings that were verified at one point via Google My Business but no longer are. Because the address was hidden, it doesn’t appear when the listing gets unverified and the map marker is messed up as a result. These listings wouldn’t be allowed on Maps since they aren’t an actual mapped place that a user would need directions to.

The second type is listings that are unverified for residential addresses. You should be able to confirm these businesses don’t have storefronts by looking at Street View. You can also confirm the address is residential by putting it into Melissa Data: Address Check Tool - Address Lookup | Melissa Lookups

These listings shouldn’t be mapped because users on Google Maps would not need driving directions to these places. Also, the address is private and could easily belong to someone else if the business owner has moved since the listing was created. Often these listings exist because they’ve been created based on 3rd-party data.
 

virens

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I'm not set on reporting them quite yet, as I can see it's a tad harsh in some cases - even where I've proved they don't offer a 'service' from their houses. IMO, the ideal outcome would be a new reporting option, as you suggested. In the meantime, I'll sit on the ethical dilemma!

If the conflict of interest wasn't so apparent, they'd be half-decent leads :unsure:
 

JoshuaMackens

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Hey Joshua, point taken. This is the bigger picture as far as Google is concerned. And we need to remember that this IS Google's world, which doesn't always align with reality.

It’s important for service area businesses to remember that home-based SABs without storefronts are not permitted on Google Maps. To clarify, Google My Business allows them to get around this by having the option to hide the address. Hiding the address keeps the listing from having a marker on the Map and thus satisfies both parties (both Maps and Google My Business).

This means that if you find a business listing that is not owner-verified and is for a service area business that does not have a storefront, it should be removed. There are 2 scenarios I normally see for this.

First are the unverified listings that are missing an address all together. They usually list the city name, and the map marker often gets plotted somewhere randomly in the city. These cases are usually for listings that were verified at one point via Google My Business but no longer are. Because the address was hidden, it doesn’t appear when the listing gets unverified and the map marker is messed up as a result. These listings wouldn’t be allowed on Maps since they aren’t an actual mapped place that a user would need directions to.

The second type is listings that are unverified for residential addresses. You should be able to confirm these businesses don’t have storefronts by looking at Street View. You can also confirm the address is residential by putting it into Melissa Data: Address Check Tool - Address Lookup | Melissa Lookups

These listings shouldn’t be mapped because users on Google Maps would not need driving directions to these places. Also, the address is private and could easily belong to someone else if the business owner has moved since the listing was created. Often these listings exist because they’ve been created based on 3rd-party data.

I understand from a Google Maps perspective they need to be removed. Unfortunately, GMB is tied to maps. One affects the other. If you could remove them from Maps but keep their search presence, I'd say you're fine. But you can't. And that's why I think you shouldn't touch them unless you know for 100% they don't exist. You don't know whose business you could be affecting just because they aren't internet marketing savvy.

I'm not set on reporting them quite yet, as I can see it's a tad harsh in some cases - even where I've proved they don't offer a 'service' from their houses. IMO, the ideal outcome would be a new reporting option, as you suggested. In the meantime, I'll sit on the ethical dilemma!

If the conflict of interest wasn't so apparent, they'd be half-decent leads :unsure:

Oh, don't mind our discussion :) at the end of the day, you have to do what you think is best and be at peace with that. I'm sure you'll do the best you can. You can live with that.

Colan is maybe my favorite person in Local SEO and someone I look up to so I like to know where he stands on things and why. It makes me better. So don't feel like you're caught in the middle. At the end of the day, you should probably take his advice over mine :) he's the real deal.
 

Colan Nielsen

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Colan is maybe my favorite person in Local SEO and someone I look up to so I like to know where he stands on things and why. It makes me better. So don't feel like you're caught in the middle. At the end of the day, you should probably take his advice over mine :) he's the real deal.

You're making me blush, Joshua. You're way too kind. I 100% see the ethical consideration as well. In my experience, 9 times out of 10, an unverified listing at a residential address falls into the category of a scraped listing from 3rd party data or the business isn't even operational anymore, or it is spam, lead gen..etc. If you're not wanting to hurt a business that is just unaware that the listing exists, you can always take the time to reach out and educate them.
 
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