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April 4, 2022

12 Local Citations You Can Use When You’re A Service-Area Business

If your business is listed as a service-area business on your Google Business Profile and therefore you don’t show your address, can you still build citations?

I’m often asked this question, usually by business owners who work from home, and the answer may surprise you.

What type of business doesn’t have a public address?

Before we go into detail about citations, let’s first look at which businesses would want – or need – to hide their addresses. 

  • The business is a ‘work-from-home’ location but serves people or businesses in person
  • The business is not staffed during its hours of operation
  • The business shares office space with other entities, which means that the physical address is not suitable for serving customers
  • The business is a Service Area Business (SAB) which means customers aren’t served at a business address.  Personnel visit customers at their premises (eg a mobile windscreen technician or a cleaning business) to provide a service.

It’s understandable that a business owner who operates from home would want to keep their address private.  It’s also understandable that not every physical business location is ideal for serving customers, eg when there is shared office space, staff who may not have the appropriate knowledge and/or experience of the company or when the staff don’t keep consistent office hours.

Is a physical address important for online visibility and local SEO?

If you don’t have an address, it won’t necessarily harm your business or negatively impact your digital presence.  However, it will limit your opportunity for citations.  You need to weigh up the pros and cons of hiding your address and decide on the best course of action for your business.  And that’s where advice from an SEO specialist can help, as they can help you distil the advantages and disadvantages relative to your particular circumstances and work out the best solution.

What is Google’s policy on hidden addresses?

Google has comprehensive guidelines for representing your business on Google Business Profile.  

In the section on ‘Addresses’, the search engine giant states that …’If your business rents a physical mailing address but doesn’t operate out of that location, also known as a virtual office, that location is not eligible for a Business Profile.

Businesses can’t list an office at a co-working space unless that office maintains clear signage, receives customers at the location during business hours, and is staffed during business hours by your business staff.’

However, other search engines do allow home-based and SAB businesses to display their addresses.  It makes no difference to Google if these addresses are visible on other sites.

If you’re new to Google Business Profile, learn the basics in my free Beginners Guide to Google My Business.

Will a hidden address adversely affect my local search results?

Smart local businesses will be doing everything possible in terms of SEO and optimising their Google Business Profile listings so that they feature as high up on the local search results as possible. Understandably, many business owners are concerned that not making their address public puts them at a disadvantage.  

Here’s what I recommend you do.

Recommendations for citations when you don’t have an address

The reality is that you can’t actually hide your business address completely.  Many listing sites draw their information directly from places like government databases and business registries and your registered business address will feature on these.  

If yours is the type of business outlined above (eg a home-based or service-area-business), I recommend that you hide your address on key sites like Google, Bing, Facebook, Yelp etc  as your target audience is likely to use these main sites rather than obscure ones.    

You should however, aim to build citations on other sites which don’t require you to hide your address.   It’s highly unlikely that a real person (let alone a motivated potential customer!) will be looking for your business, your products or services or your address on these more obscure sites.  Citations are important for local SEO, so you may as well take advantage of the opportunity to build them where you can.

12 local citations you can use for a service-area business 

Keen to discover more about citations and how they can boost your local SEO?  Check out my new online, self-managed course, The SEO School, which takes you through all the key tools and techniques of a successful SEO strategy.  The course is great for business owners, website managers and anyone who wants hands-on learning about all the essentials of SEO from an industry expert.  Find out more about The SEO School here.

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