Google Places Rescinds PO Box Rule Change

We’re up, we’re down. We’re not sure where we are.

Reader & TC Jim Jaggers alerted me to the fact that Google has changed the  Google Places PO Box guidelines once again. In this new reading PO Boxes are definitely out. Suite numbers and box numbers are in. The new prohibition against moving the pin (a wide spread spam tactic to get a location in the city center without changing the address) is still in affect.

02/08/2012
Guideline
02/10/2012
Guideline
Do not create a listing or place your pin marker at a location where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. If you operate from a location but receive mail at a P.O. Box there, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your P.O. Box information in Address Line 2. Do not create a listing or place your pin marker at a location where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. If you operate from a location but receive mail at a mail box there, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your mail box or suite number in Address Line 2.

Clearly this means that PO Boxes of any ilk are still verboten even when they are legitimate. This means that those that in rural areas that don’t get mail deliver will still need to request approval via the Troubleshooters on the Help Pages.

Certainly it is significant that Google is publicly calling out the tactic of the moving the pins and putting folks on alert that have abused the Pin placement. Usually it takes some time for an algo update to the filters to see the new guideline put into action. They can’t occur soon enough in this situation.

Perhaps tomorrow, in addition to filtering out the pin location changing activity, Google will also (and more importantly) deemphasize the value of the centroid!

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places Rescinds PO Box Rule Change by

9 thoughts on “Google Places Rescinds PO Box Rule Change”

  1. Yeah! Finally!

    I just recently had a client provide me an address which was not a PO Box. So we went ahead and started building out their campaign for this new location. We set up a Google Places page and the client never received a verification letter from Google. After 3 requests, still no letter.

    Well, it turns out that my client is simply friends with the owner of the actual building at that address. (the client is a pest control company). Guess what the business does at that address? lol… it is a PO Box company!

    So I wondering if Google is somehow picking this up and adding all these types of companies to the algo… Looks like this is the case.

    We always verify the accuracy of the address using USPS, but didn’t check what was at the physical location. So in the future we will be checking and recommend that you do the same.

    Hey Mike, can I post an affiliate link to a virtual office company? ;)

  2. Mike, I’ve noticed lately that after confirming the PIN that the listing doesn’t seem to be going live within a few days like it normally does. For 2 recent clients, I went back into their accounts and hit submit again (without changing any info) to ping it. This seems to work to get it active and in the SERPS.

    However, doing this seems to cause TWO listings to appear for each business. Then we have to merge the listings. Have you seen this too?

  3. Wow – I pride myself on my comprehension of the nuances of English, but I find that new guideline to be about as clear as mud:

    If you operate from a location but receive mail at a mail box there, please list your physical address in Address Line 1, and put your mail box or suite number in Address Line 2.

    Doesn’t everyone receive mail at a mail box (apart from people who don’t have mail service in their area.)? Isn’t just about every home in America equipped with a mail box? You know, the little box nailed to the wall by the front door? I’ve now read those two sentences 6 times and feel they are extremely vague and confusing.

  4. @Miriam
    Oh NO! You mean they need to re-write it a third time!!! sheeze

    @eric

    I think google is adding that to their knowledge base. It interesting that it was algo based and automatic.

    Haven’t claimed a listing in the recent past but it sounds about right.

  5. @Miriam
    Its truly frightening that this managed to get released. I can’t help but laugh at the sentence as I imagine someone writing this and going ‘ yeah, this sounds perfect’.

  6. Mike – Do UPS stores count as PO boxes? How are service businesses that use UPS stores instead of the owner’s home address able to list their businesses on Places? Many of these businesses use the UPS store address and suite as their registered business address for licensing purposes, getting mail and overall running their business to protect their privacy.

    Looking at it differently, wouldn’t using the owner’s or an employee’s personal home address be more inaccurate than using the UPS store in that case since the real registered business address / location is the UPS store location? Even for Google purposes, using an owner’s or employee’s personal address to get a Places listing active if it’s not the real business address is arguably not correct?

  7. @sam

    From Google’s POV a UPS box is the same as a PO box and is not allowed. That rule developed as a result of widespread spamming of the boxes. I assume that google determined that the impact of the spam on the index was was worse than excluding some legit businesses that use UPS boxes.

  8. “If you operate from a location but receive mail at a mail box there,”

    I think the guideline is trying to say that if you receive mail at a PO box at your location rather than a mailbox located somewhere else, such as a UPS box miles away from your home. For example, if you live in a building that has a post office downstairs with mailboxes than you can put the PO Box address in the second line.

    The case I wondered about is a midget who has an office in a post office box.

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