The address you use on Google Places is such a big deal that Google has just changed how home based and service businesses can use their address.

Let me set the stage.  There are many ways to try and game or spam Google Places.  Google seems to be on to many of these, but they also seem powerless to stop some.  The address spam was and is one of those issues.

If you are a service provider, you don’t really care if anyone knows your business location.  It is likely that you do most of your business by phone, internet, in the client’s place of business, or at a local coffee shop.  In addition, your service area is not the traditional 5 mile radius around your location that most retailers and professionals who see clients in their place of business accept as their natural trading area.  In a major metropolitan area, your territory might be a 50 mile radius or even more.

So, if I list my real address and Google Places only gives me credibility for a five mile radius, I’m not going to get much benefit.  Moreover, my address might be in a tiny city or a city not known for commercial enterprise, or a poor neighborhood, and you are only blocks away from a much “better” city.  Google will possibly give you great positioning for your real city, and you won’t even be found on the city map a few block away.  This is an issue for retailers and professionals as well as consultants and for service providers who don’t expect clients to come to them.

The result of these issues was to see some business owners making up addresses, using UPS addresses for surrounding cities and setting up multiple “locations”  in order to broaden their territory, and getting friends to let them use their home or business address in an important nearby city.

The problem persists, but Google Places has created one fix.  You can now choose whether or not you even want to have your physical address showing, and you can choose your geographic territory if you don’t want customers to come to you.  The maximum size of the territory is 99km (about 60 miles.)

This change is so new that I have not yet seen reports as to whether such service businesses are seeing their company pop up in good position on Google Places Maps in cities 60 miles away.  But the idea make sense.  We’ll see about the execution.  (As of 1/1/11 the jury is still out)

For the retailer who is stuck with one local address, I recommend adding cities anywhere on the listing they can do so.  Change your name to include the city you care about, even if you aren’t physically in that city.  (Joe’s BBQ of Brisbane) Add cities served in your description or the added attributes at the end of the listings.

Do not use addresses that you do not have permission or the right to use.  Do not make up addresses.  Do not use post office boxes.  Potential clients call me all the time crying about losing their listing, and the most common reason is address spam.