Google My Business Changes That May Affect You

If you work at home and don’t have a physical office that clients visit, then a change that Google made about six months ago may impact you.

It used to be that there was a checkbox that said something like “Hide this address.” That checkbox is no longer on the profile. There’s still a place for address, but if you work from home, nothing should be listed in the address box.

It is against Google policy to list a personal mail box as your address, so do NOT use that for your address; it will get your profile suspended.

When you enter no address in the Business Location area, this will display:

There is really no other choice now.

What’s especially important to complete is the Service Areas section just below it, especially if you work at home. You are allowed to list multiple cities. You are not allowed to list the entire state, even if that’s your service area. You are also not allowed to list the United States, even if that’s your service area.

After speaking with a couple of Google employees on this, my conclusion is they really don’t have a good way to support virtual businesses using Google My Business listings. GMB was first designed for businesses with shops where customers walked in and were served.

Someone having a virtual business like a lot of us doesn’t really fit. Yet, Google My Business is still very important for lead generation and SEO rankings. One GMB thought leader told me it’s against Google terms of service to have a virtual office listed on GMB. Here is partial copy from Google’s policy page as to what businesses are eligible.

Eligible businesses

In order to qualify for a Google My Business listing, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.

I am still recommending you maintain your Google My Business listing, because I have seen Google be lenient in this interpretation.  I think the reason for that is that they realize it’s a bit contradictory to penalize forward-thinking businesses that are saving the planet just because they happen to not have a physical office. On the other hand, I can see their need to protect their searchers from fly-by-night startups.

I want you to be prepared if Google suspends your listing.  That means having clients post reviews to other online profiles, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and QuickBooks ProAdvisor listings, not just Google.

If you have a Platinum or Diamond website package with us, we maintain your Google Business listing for you. But only if you’ve claimed it for yourself and granted Manager access to us.  Here are two videos on how to do that:

If you have any questions for us about your Google My Business listing, feel free to reach out any time.