Google Maps Finally Welcome To Home-Based & Service-Based Businesses

Google Maps is rolling out what it hopes will be a solution to one of the Local Business Center’s longtime shortcomings: the inability for service-based and/or home-based local businesses to use the LBC. Before today, all local businesses using the Local Business Center had to display a business address for their physical location — not an ideal situation for home-based businesses. Further, for plumbers, real estate agents, and countless other businesses that serve many towns in one area, it’s been extremely difficult to have visibility anywhere other than the town associated with the LBC listing.

Those problems appear to be a thing of the past.

When logged in to the LBC, users will see a new tab called “Service Areas and Location Settings.”

maps-1

After clicking “Yes, this business serves customers at their locations,” a new set of choices appears.

maps-2

As you can see, at this point the local business owner can indicate that s/he doesn’t want a business address to appear in Google Maps. This is for local business owners who work from home, but don’t want to give out their home address in Google Maps. Until now, the primary advice for business owners in this situation has been to rent a mailbox somewhere and use that address; others have simply spammed Google Maps by using someone else’s address or creating a new, non-existent address to get around this problem.

For service-based businesses, there’s also an option to tell Google Maps how your location should be specified. The choices are “Distance from one location” or “List of areas served,” and you can only choose one.

maps-3

There’s been no official announcement from Google about this yet, and we don’t know if this is available to all LBC users or if it’s a limited test. We have an email in to Google for more information. In any case, this will be extremely welcome relief for a large group of local business owners who’ve essentially been unable to use Google Maps for search engine visibility.

Update: A Google spokesperson tells us that this is a limited test, but “many” business owners should see the new options in their LBC account.

Update #2, a few hours later: There are some potentially serious bugs with this new tool. Within an hour after updating my wife’s listing (shown above), her listing had been merged with another real estate agent’s listing. I’ve explained more, with screenshots, in this post on my own blog.

Update #3, an hour later: Regarding update #2, Google says the problems I’ve described are NOT related to the new Service Areas tool, but are due to my wife and the other agent sharing the same physical address and both updating their listings on the same day. I’ve updated my post (link above) with their full explanation.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.planetc1.com/ chiropractic

    Very cool Matt!
    I can already think of many ways this can benefit small business owners.

  • http://bloggingrealestateinnova.com/ crifae

    This is GREAT info. As a small business person I can’t tell home of a pain it was to jockey address around!
    Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.geositemapgenerator.com ArjanSnaterse

    Great to see this.. Do you know if there’s (or will become) room in KML files for this already or in the future?

  • http://www.contentwriter.com.au contentwriter

    Problem with this: maximum service area on map 620mi / 999km

    This looked great, so I tried it out. I am a web copywriter with clients around the world, so I tried to set the service area to cover the world, basically.

    However, the most that will be shown on the map is 620 miles or 999 kilometres. Anything over that and the circle on the map reverts back to a small circle around your physical address.

    That doesn’t work for me. Even though I could still type in, says, 20,000km as my service area, it’s not like my business started showing up in map searches for my service category in other locations.

    So I’m interested to find out how this is supposed to work and whether it is able to benefit home-based businesses whose service area is the whole world. Probably not…

  • don marks

    This option appears to be in beta offering, cant make these changes here in Michigan yet…

  • don marks

    Appears to be in Beta, the functionality is not in Michigan yet,…

  • http://www.thunderseo.com MoniqueTheGeek

    Thanks for the post and updates about these new Google Maps features! We submitted a local business center listing today, and definitely noticed the changes in the verification process. I’m definitely interested to see how these developments affect local search rankings. In the past, Google Maps has pulled in other local citations (superpages, yellowpages, kudzu, etc) into the local business center listing, so I’m curious to see how these will be pulled in, considering some businesses won’t have a local address anymore. Will definitely be compelling to keep an eye on this as the bugs are worked out and we start seeing different local maps. Thanks for the info!

  • http://www.jexanalytics.com.au jexley

    Most excellent and something I’ve run into MANY times.

    Because of my target market, most of my clients eschew a Google Business Listing because they don’t want their address “out there” if it’s not a brick-and-mortar showroom.

    I bit the bullet and put myself on there, but the wife’s always felt funny about having our home address associated with the business (especially since we live in a dodgy suburb, heh).

    I hope the bugs get ironed out, because this will definitely make many of my clients happy and improve my business as well!

  • http://www.expand2web.com/blog/ doncampbell

    This is huge – I know a lot of small business owners who will benefit from this once they work the bugs out.

    I wonder if the PMB (Personal Mailbox) business will take a hit now that businesses don’t need a physical address to show up in Google Maps? :)

  • http://www.towing-dallas.com/ PureSheer

    So where does it put the location of your biz in the ranking factors? Is it now will be more common that a biz from Fort Worth TX will be in Dallas TX 7 pack (if it’s targeted for the whole metro)?

  • http://twitter.com/aisong99 aisong99

    This function help us a lot, But also brought us some inconvenient .
    hope they improvements in the future.   http://www.kelunwang.dk/

  • http://twitter.com/aisong2005 aisong2005

    this function to help us a lot .

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