Physical Address vs. Mailing Address – What Does Google Base Ranking On?
Posted by Colan Nielsen
We recently published an article that explained why a business’s service area in Google My Business does not impact ranking. In fact, the ranking for a service area type business is based on the physical location of that business and has nothing to do with the specified service area. We also shared why it’s very important to realize that the city you use for your mailing address is not always where your business is physically located.
I wanted to share an example that does a beautiful job of illustrating both of these important points.
- The ranking is based on the physical location that Google thinks you are located in
- There is a major difference, as far as ranking goes, between what you think your address is (such as your mailing address) and what Google thinks your physical location is.
For this example, I came across a State Farm agent in Olathe, KS that really helps illustrate this.
According to the businesses website they are located in Olathe, KS. However, if you look at the physical boundary for Olathe on Google Maps you will see that they actually fall just outside of it.
As a result of this, you can see that Google actually overrides their city with Lenexa in the knowledge panel.
Here’s another quick example to illustrate the point. This dentist in North Miami is just outside the North Miami border according to Google Maps. As a result, they do not rank well for “Dentist North Miami” even though they are less than a mile from the boundary.
You can also see that the knowledge panel doesn’t match up, just like in the original example. Google is confused because the address entered into GMB, which is the mailing address, does not match the physical location boundary.
The physical location has a dramatic impact on ranking. I’ll illustrate that with some geo grid ranking reports from Places Scout. What you will see is that this business ranks amazing for explicit queries with “Lenexa” (their physical location) but ranks horribly for explicit searches with “Olathe” (mailing address and where they consider themselves to actually be located).
Checking to see what physical city a business is actually located in and understanding how much it impacts ranking can help make you a super sharp Local SEO consultant.
How Can I Overcome This?
It’s going to be challenging but here are a few things that can help improve rankings in the city you think you are in when Google thinks you are physically somewhere else.
- Implement a strategy to earn backlinks with anchors that mention the city name.
- Optimize your website, including your internal linking to make it clear to Google that you have a presence in that city.
- Move your business inside the border of the desired city (most impactful).
Have you experienced similar scenarios with your business or clients? Let us know in the comments.