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Does Hiding Your Address Impact your Google Business Profile Ranking?

If you’re aware of Google’s guidelines, you probably know that Google has a guideline for home-based businesses.  It states, “Important: If you don’t serve customers at your business address, do not enter an address under the ‘Info’ tab in Business Profile Manager. Leave the ‘business location’ field blank.”  This comes into play a lot with service area businesses like a plumber who drives to their customer instead of their customer coming to them.  When you hide your address on Google it makes it so your listing doesn’t have an address listed, a map pin, or a driving directions button on your listing.  

The Test:

We wanted to test to see if hiding your address impacted how the business listing ranked on Google.  

So we had a client who is in the home services space who currently had their address displaying.  This is what their rankings looked like for one of their top keywords:

We went in and removed the address from the listing.  What happened next blew our minds.

The Results:

We saw a massive decline in rankings after we hid the address. Here is what happened to the rankings for the same keyword shown above: 

What was even more concerning was the massive drop in calls from the listing for the month where we had the address removed.

When we added the address back to the listing a month later, the rankings came back. 

 

This is the full picture of what happened:

Was This a Fluke?

We needed to make sure this wasn’t just some crazy anomaly so we found another listing of theirs with the address hidden and added the address back. We saw the same bump in rankings. 

Search Results Change: 

Now the craziest thing we witnessed during this was the fact that hiding the address literally caused the local pack to disappear for one of the main keywords. As you can see here, Google showed a local pack when the address was showing. Then, when we hid the address, the local pack went away and the entire SERP was organic. When we added the address back, the local pack appeared again. 

TL;DR:

  • Hiding your address on your Google Business Profile appears to cause a decline and rankings in calls.  
  • We do not condone going against Google’s guidelines, BUT this is something Google really needs to fix if they want people to follow their rules.  

 

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Hi Joy, what if the GBP is created with a hidden address from scratch? Does it hinder its capability to rank in local packs in comparison to the competitors who are displaying their business address?

    1. Hey Matt,

      Great question. The 3 we tested were all ones where the address was showing upon verification (then removed later) so I’m not 100% sure. We have one right now that we’re testing that fits that scenerio you’re describing so I’ll let you know once we have results.

      1. Follow up question. We have so many clients who are facing this problem. Due to their hidden addresses on their GBPs, their local rankings are dismal. Shall we go ahead and display their home addresses in GBP?

        1. Home addresses are much trickier because you wouldn’t have any signage so it definitely is against Google’s rules. It might be worth the risk as long as the business owner is fine with his address being listed publicly. It could trigger a suspension and if it does, you’d have to hide it again to get reinstated.

          1. In our case, the local packs for keywords appear when we track the rankings of our home-based clients (unlike the fact found in your study that the local packs disappeared once you hid the address). They just don’t rank anywhere locally. In this case, shall we still consider displaying their address in GBP and hope that their rankings improve locally?

      2. Hi Joy,

        Like Matt, I’d love to hear if the results are the same if the address is hidden from the start!

        Thank you so much for this article! : )

        1. Nick,

          I just checked back on that one – it was very similar to the others we looked at. Adding the address to the listing helped the listing rank much better.

  2. Yes, this has been happening with our SAB, franchise, for years now, & still happens even if they have a bunch of positive reviews!!

    Home address was in back in 2019.. lots of calls and on local pack.. customers are even welcome to stop in, cause someone is always here during biz hours.
    By 2020, we removed the address per the GBP rules, fell off of everything.
    Our #1 keyword doesn’t even show us in the map pack either since then.

    1. There is a bug (I don’t think it’s intended) where if a service area business moves, the ranking can revert back to the old location. It’s pretty rare but I have heard of a few cases over the last year where people experienced that. I believe Tom Waddington also had an example of that. That wasn’t the case here, this was a simple location that was verified as a storefront and we simply removed the address, then added it back a month later. They didn’t move.

      1. In our clients, it has been extremely consistent. Every time I’ve tracked a move, the bug occurred.

      2. I have been in a long time lease until 2022 when my building closed and was razed. I intended to do a office share type of arrangement like WeWork until I read about Google’s hostility to that arrangement. I punted, working out of my home, until this year when google remapped the building. Now my profile includes a nice picture of an empty lot. I had been noticing, however, a steady erosion in my appearance and leads coming from the Google 3 pack. Being in danger from Big Brother G I was advised to change profile address to home, then hide the address.

        As soon as I made that change I immediately notice a return to the consistent Google 3 pack appearance! Is that the bug you are talking about?

        1. Are you tracking ranking on a grid? It should help you see what areas you rank best in. If you’re just searching from your home then you would definitely see yourself rank higher now that your home address is on the listing, but you probably lost rankings near the area that you used to have on the listing near your office.

  3. We need to keep on this – I (and several clients) have hidden addresses and we do very well in Local serps for competitive kw’s. But this issue ‘may’ be affecting some of our other clients. Too soon to make changes yet IMO, but it’s very concerning. Thanks for posting your findings Joy 🙂

    1. Yeah. The maddening part this is how inconsistent this is. Some clients are entirely unaffected, other just vanish off the results entirely. I don,t mean lose ranks. I mean are completely absent even if you check every single page of the finder results!

  4. We have seen the same result with several GBPs that have gone from a service area business to adding a physical address – huge ranking boost that comes very quickly. Pretty shocking to see the impact it has had.

  5. It seems that Google is now forcing businesses to verify again. If you switch between service based to location even if you did a past verification.

    I’ve had our GMB business for over 8 years and now I’m no longer verified unless I do a verification video. Since I run our business out of the house I don’t want to list our house in GMB.

    It seems Google doesn’t want service based profiles on their platforms anymore. We have taken a huge hit in local search ranking these past few months as a service based business.

  6. This is eye-opening! I never thought hiding the address could have such a significant impact on Google Business Profile rankings and calls. The test results clearly show the consequences. Google should definitely address this to avoid confusion. Well researched and insightful post!

  7. Hi,

    What type of service based business did you test?

    I ask as I wonder if it matters the type of service area business reviewed. For example, a home-based florist would likely drop in rankings without an address when competing against their brick-and-mortar competitors.

    However, this may not be the same case for true service area businesses such as a handyman or lawn mowing company who often don’t/can’t have a physical address included.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!

  8. Hi Joy!
    I know it’s a vague question but what are the chances of suspension if we put the address back as the storefront? Any ideas on it are welcome.
    Thanks.

  9. The problem is there are some very reliable hard working self employed people that offer services that require no shop or premises and work from a Van or have a home office in their appartment or Home….. Carpenter , Window cleaner. Cleaner . Painter . Elcetrician Web design you name it the skies the limit……. I find this very superficial about not showing pins in search results for those that have no business shop BECAUSE people searching are looking for the right person !!!!! not a physical building to do their carpentry , electrics, stone work, cleaning etc etc etc etc …….. Common sense …… and very annoying to be frank.. Possibly a crime against a persons rights as well if looked at especially in the EU !

  10. They should be careful they may end up with a law suit especially in the EU… Simply becuase it is 100 % biased / Common Sense. Watch this space

  11. I may need some assistance with my GBP. I do dog training in my area, a combination of board and train plus in-home training. I had my address in my profile for two years, but I wanted to see what happened when I removed my address. It has been a nightmare; my GBP now is not showing up for search at all with any keywords in my industry. I have a ton of 5-star reviews and have gotten all of my business from my GBP until now.

    1. That’s frustrating. If you add it back, it might trigger a reverification. Worst case scenario would be that it causes the listing to get suspended, in which case you have to remove the address again to get reinstated. If it’s possible to get permanent signage at your location, that would be the most ideal situation because then you can show your address without a problem.

  12. Good afternoon! Any new updates on this topic? I’d like to change to a SAB but not if its going to kill my GBP.

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