Updated 11/05/09- Authoritative word on PO Boxes from Joel Headley of Google:
PO Boxes have proven unverifiable and are called out as such.
We’re working on providing the right solution for businesses that need to hide a home address, however.
The poor man’s virtual office, the PO Box, has been singled out in the new Business Listing Guidelines as they relate to your business address:
- Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
- PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.(italics mine)
- Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
- Businesses that operate in a service area as opposed to a single location should not create a listing for every city they service. Service area businesses should create one listing for the central office of the business only.
Poster Meleighsmith noted yesterday:
It’s too bad for people who conduct business from a home office that P.O. Boxes can not be used as addresses (I have a client that is a Therapist who does this, and doesn’t want her physical address quite so prominently visible like that). For accuracy’s sake, I think it would be better to use a true P.O. Box rather than a box at a “UPS Store” – at least with a P.O. Box you’re not scamming potential customers.
This is a pain in the neck. Google has got to figure out a solution for local businesses with private addresses…remember, 50% of SMBs are run from home.
But is it Google’s intention to totally eliminate their use? I think not. In the case that Meleigh mentions and in the case of service businesses, I believe that the use of PO Box is still considered legitimate as long as you only use it instead of your actual physical address and not as a way to create additional, virtual locations. This paragraph from the recently updated Local Business Center User Guide clarifies the point somewhat:
Every business listing must have a mailing address.
Usually this is the physical address of your business, but certain businesses may wish to use a PO Box. For example, if you wish to keep the physical location of your business private, or if your business provides a service at various locations (like a cleaning service).