Local Links of Interest

How To Get On Google Maps Without An Address – Chris Silver Smith, SEL

[Google] essentially said that they should try to get an address in the city because Google did not display businesses that didn’t have addresses—after all, he quipped, one can’t pinpoint something without an address on the map. He suggested that those businesses could rent a post box to accomplish this.

I found this suggestion surprising and a bit disappointing. I’d rather expected him to declare that they expected to soon deploy a new version that would allow some method of displaying local businesses that didn’t have specific addresses.

I’d actually recommended that businesses might use rented mail boxes to get better Maps rankings as a sort of “extreme local search tactic” way back in January of 2007, but I did that while figuring that few businesses were likely to actually do that. The tactic is apparently not so “extreme” after all. Google Maps help provides similar advice.

Hearing this method recommended by Google was surprising to many of us, because it seems like something of a hack—it is a hack. The expected/needed functionality isn’t there, so you have to resort to doing something nonintuitive/unnatural to make it work.

Not only is it a hack as Chris points it open to abuse as I have pointed out in the past.

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6 thoughts on “Local Links of Interest”

  1. Wow, here are 2 big problems I see with this:

    1) Every client I’ve ever worked with who didn’t want to display their address on their website didn’t display it because they didn’t really have a visit-ready physical location or their business was in their home. They didn’t want people appearing at their door. Their business model didn’t work that way. If Google populates its A-J rankings with P.O. Boxes that the end user doesn’t realize are P.O boxes, prepare for a bunch of wild goose chases and angry people, thanks to Maps.

    2) Somehow, this is reminding me a little too strongly of the 800 number scam you covered a few months back, Mike. You know, with the florists appearing to be local but being national. How easy will it be for the spam-minded to get a nice P.O box in every city, in every state?

    Great coverage by Chris on this, but it sure brings up some weird worries.

  2. All good points. I’m really hoping that Google has thought out the potential problems like all the ones mentioned above.

    I remember the 800 florist scam. It wound up taking a (actual) florist over 2k miles away to notice a fake listing five blocks from where I live. The address (still) listed is a bogus one, but it gets through.

    My nickel is on that the majority of those who want to get listed w/o a physical address are not from independent plumbing or construction contractors, but from people trying to game the system by appearing in places that they’re not.

  3. Miriam/Paul

    Amazing to me that Google would be encouraging this type of approach to a problem that should be solved at their software level.

    If nothing else, local needs to be predicated on trust and accuracy. At some point they will as Chris pointed out and I have in the past imagined a to deal with this issue. If I can imagine a solution certainly Google Maps folks can too. But given that they are encouraging this “work around” there will be a number of both real and spammy businesses that use the address of the UPS Mailbox closest to the center point of the city that would need to be removed.

    It does leave one’s faith just a little shaken, no?


  4. “It does leave one’s faith just a little shaken, no?”

    Not if you didn’t have much faith in them to begin with.

    The more I see and learn about Google the more I’m convinced that they are way out of touch with the real world … but then I’m a grumpy sod with a very jaundiced view of the world 🙂

  5. Hi Stuart-

    Here, let me lend you a pair of my rose colored glasses. I have always felt that there are enough stake holders that have a vested interest to make sure that it gets done right.

    I also always thought that Google would perceive their long term interests and act accordingly. This seems to be a very short term and short sighted solution to the problem…time will tell.


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