Home » Home-Based Businesses & Local SEO: An Address is Key

Home-Based Businesses & Local SEO: An Address is Key

The TL;DR: If you own a home-based business, adding your home address can help you rank in local search results and on Google Maps. If your house sits within the geo-boundaries of the market you’re trying to reach, using your home address can help you rank for geo-modified local search queries.

Read on for a case study on just how important this optimization can be for home-based businesses.

Google My Business - an address helps home-based businesses appear in geo-modified searches

A short while back, a professional photographer contacted me because he wanted to rank in local map results for certain geo-modified search terms. His market – Hawaii – is extremely competitive for photography; even when you narrow searches by the island he works on (Oahu), a search returns more than 300 competitors. When he contacted me, he was nowhere to be found in local map results.

I performed an audit that concentrated on local signals – I checked his Google My Business page, his business reviews, outbound and inbound links from local businesses, and more. What stood out was the fact that he didn’t have an address attached to his Google My Business page. Because his home was within Google’s geo-boundary for Oahu, I knew that adding his home address would help get him ranked.

Google has strict standards for Google My Business pages. Per Google,

In order to qualify for a Google My Business listing, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.

Digital Dynamo on Google My Business

Digital Dynamo on Google Maps

This rule tends to turn-off home-based business owners from adding their address to their GMB page. Many don’t have a traditional business set-up and are reluctant to meet customers at their home address.

However, if you are fine with meeting customers where you live, then you should absolutely use your address because it will help get you quickly listed in local search results and on Google Maps. If your house sits within the geo-boundaries of the market you’re targeting, it can be an even bigger boon.

After my client added his home address, within a couple weeks his business could be found in local results. Today, certain geo-modified search terms pull up his business on the first and second pages of local map results – quite a feat considering that half a year ago, he wasn’t ranking at all.

Contrast this with a South Carolina-based photographer I helped late last year. Her competition was substantially smaller (about 20 photography businesses). I performed a similar local SEO audit and optimized her website for local search. Her reviews were great, and her website blew the competition out of the water. Now all she needed was an actual address on her Google My Business and Contact pages.

But her business was home-based. She wanted to protect her privacy. She refused to use her address.

I pleaded with her and told her the story about my photographer client whose rankings surged after he added an address. Her home address was perfectly situated within her city’s geo boundaries, and she could easily rank at #1 or #2 in the local pack for geo-modified searches if she added an address. But she was adamant, and instead chose to add a service area to Google My Business.

I pleaded with her...her home address was perfectly situated within her city’s geo boundaries, and she could easily rank at #1 or #2 in the local pack for geo-modified searches if she added an address. But she was adamant. Today, her business ranks on the first page of local map results – but at the bottom.

I had to accept it. Today, her business ranks on the first page of the local map results – but at the bottom.

If you’re a home-based business and you’re fine meeting customers at your home, using your home address is one of the most important optimizations you can make to help you rank in local search. You do risk some privacy, but that doesn’t mean you’re putting yourself and your family in danger. As a home-based entrepreneur myself, I know that organic search is one of the most powerful and lean tools I can leverage.

Now, this does not mean you can use a residential address where you don’t live just because it’s situated in the market you want to reach; you have to actually do business out of the location for it to work for you. If you try to trick Google, there is a very high chance you’ll get caught, and the penalties aren’t worth it.

For more information or help with your business’s local SEO and Google My Business page, contact Digital Dynamo.

Definitions

Geo-Modified Search – a search query that has a specific location in it. For example: “Pittsburgh pet store;” “colleges in Ohio.”

Geo-Boundary – the boundaries for a specific location as outlined by Google Maps that impact geo-modified searches. For example, if someone Googles “pittsburgh pet stores,” only pet stores within Pittsburgh’s boundaries (as defined by Google) will appear.

geo-boundaries for Pittsburgh, PA

The geo-boundaries of Pittsburgh, PA