Archive for January, 2011

Can I Use a PO Box as My Google Places Address?

January 31st, 2011

Clients with home businesses often ask if they can use a PO Box as their address in the Google Places listing. The short answer – not a good idea.

Google has seemed to waffle back and forth in this area. When Google Maps was first created, businesses without a brick and mortar address could not create a business listing because the Google Map was unable to display a listing without a pinpoint address. Then Google Maps started incorporating business listings from data partners and began showing a floating dot, rather than a pinpoint, to represent those businesses with no “actual” address – but that information had to come from data partners rather than a listing.

When confronted with how businesses with no brick and mortar address could get on Google Maps back in 2008, the Google Earth VP suggested that those businesses get a PO Box. Hence, people started doing so. Acknowledging that not all businesses have brick and mortar addresses, in April 2010, Google rolled out the ability to add service areas to your listing AND hide your address.

A few months later Google seemed to do an about face. In a December 2010 blog post on tips for creating a business listing in Google Places, a Google rep wrote:

“Google Places is meant to facilitate customer interaction with brick-and-mortar businesses and service providers. Therefore, the business owner or employee who is officially authorized to represent their particular business location must have a physical address in order to comply with our guidelines.”

The guidelines the rep is referring to state: “P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. Listings submitted with P.O. Box addresses will be removed.

Some of those listings have been removed and some have not. But there are plenty of Google Places Help questions out there regarding people being penalized for using a P.O. Box as an address.

What are your options? Some places let you get a P.O. Box that is not listed as a P.O. Box address, but rather as a suite number. Use your home address but don’t display it. Try to partner with another business to use their address – but remember that there cannot be two businesses at the same address so you would need to have a suite number.

Can I use a PO Box as my google places address?
If you want your Google Places listing to be shown, DON’T use a P.O. Box!

Google Places iPhone App – One More Reason to Have an Optimized Google Places Listing for Your Business

January 13th, 2011

Yesterday, Google announced that a Google Places App is now available for the iPhone. This App lets you quickly search for places nearby, just like local search on google.com – but while you’re on the move. Google gives you some popular search categories to choose from and allows you to customize the list by adding your own favorite searches.

The Google Places for iPhone App also helps you make an informed decision by integrating Google Hotpot, which is a recommendation engine that displays reviews and ratings of local businesses/establishments.

Google Places AppGoogle Places App2

Google is making local search easier while people are mobile – looking for a nearby restaurant to stop and eat, the closest gas station, a good cup of coffee. Want them to find you in their search? Make sure you have a complete and optimized Google Places listing for your business. The iPhone already has a huge market with ATT. Imagine how much larger that market will get when Verizon starts selling the iPhone next month!

Importance of XML Sitemap

January 11th, 2011

If you have a website, you should be using an XML Sitemap to help improve your Internet visibility. What is an XML Sitemap? It is a simple, effective way for you to give the search engines a list of all the URLs you want them to crawl and index. If the search engines don’t find your site or specific pages on it, your prospects won’t either!

Brief highlights of the importance of an XML Sitemap


1. Although adding a URL to the Sitemap file does not guarantee that a URL will be crawled or indexed, it can result in pages that the search engines had not yet discovered or indexed get crawled or indexed.
2. XML Sitemaps can help pages that are on the search engines’ supplemental index make it to the main index.
3. You can use these Sitemaps to let the search engines know how often a page is changed to improve crawl rate.
4. You can alert the search engines to any changes/additions to your site
5. The additional URLs you provide help increase crawl coverage and crawl speed.
6. The verification and registration of an XML Sitemap can give the search engines the credibility that they desire.
7. In all, XML Sitemaps can help improve visibility and rankings.
8. Best of all – they are FREE

There are a few things to keep in mind. It is important to use the correct canonical version of your URL (i.e. www vs. non-www.) and that you load the XML Sitemap in the highest-level directory you want the search engines to crawl. Don’t include multiple URLs that point to identical content, simply pagination pages and low value pages. And make sure that none of the URLs you include contain tracking parameters.

Start 2011 off right. Check with your web developer to see if they created an XML Sitemap for you. If not, ask them to do so right away!

What is Yext Advertising? A New Way for Small Businesses to Be Found Online Through Local Search

January 5th, 2011

Similar to Google tags, the brand new Yext Advertising allows you to highlight your business listings with a – yellow tag.  But unlike Google Tags – which are simply seen on Google – when you advertise with Yext, your highlighted listing can appear on multiple search engines including Yahoo, Yelp, MapQuest, Superpages, Citysearch, Yellowbook, WhitePages and many more.

You can create custom messages such as coupons, specials, new products or services, and more.  And you control/update your tag on all of Yext’s partner search engines from one dashboard – quite a time saver.

The power of Yext advertising

According to Yext’s website, “recent studies performed on Google search results showed that businesses highlighted with a Google Tag received more than twice the attraction from prospective customers. Through special partnerships, Yext now offers you a new way to advertise your business listings on leading local search sites.”

The cost is $99.95 per month.  Although this is four times the cost of Google Tags, your listing is showing on more places.  You can try it out free for 7 days.

While we don’t think Yext Tags are going to replace Google Local Search, they are another affordable way to expand your web presence.