UBL is a primary data provider and as such I don’t believe they should be giving “tips” about how to circumvent the Google Places quality guidelines. They recently sent what I consider to be very misguided advice to agencies, resellers and partners via their newsletter. The link also went out via Twitter and the doc is public, so some business owners and spammers likely saw it as well.

UBL started the segment below with “At UBL, we eat, sleep, and breathe local search, and we pride ourselves on staying up to date with the most recent updates and best practices.” Well I would suggest to UBL that usually when “industry leaders” provide “best practice” advice it involves following the rules, NOT sharing alternative ways to break the rules!

Please review this time-sensitive message about changes at Apple, Google, and Yahoo (Screenshot for posterity)

Google and Yahoo Changes… If you submit business listings with a toll-free number in place of a local number, or a P.O. box in place of a street address, you now risk not being listed at all in Google, Yahoo, and other important sites. The best solution to this problem is to always supply a local number and a street address.

Do you have customers who only do business with a mailing address? We’ve got a little tip for you. The Post Office now permits P.O. box holders to be listed with the street address where the P.O. box is located. See articles here and here. The business must fill out a special form to make this change, but early tests indicate that such businesses are successfully meeting Google’s requirements. We encourage you to pass this information along to customers who will find it helpful.

UPDATE 7/3 – UBL defends & Google replies – see today’s comments!

UPDATE: 7/2 3:38 PM About an hour ago, UBL blogged the same piece above that was in their newsletter to the viewing public. But just now I went to find it to add the link and it’s been removed. Update, blog post is back up now here. (Screen shot)

Telling all these agencies to suggest their clients consider doing ANY kind of PO Box, is irresponsible in my opinion and could result in having their place pages suspended or deleted from the index. What was UBL thinking???

PO Boxes are NOT allowed no matter how the address is formatted. Google does not want users searching on maps, then driving across town to what they think will be an office only to find a post office. Google just deleted THOUSANDS of service area listings for violating the new rule that if you have a home business you must hide your address, for the exact same reason.

AND they are deleting listings with PO boxes AND UPS Store addresses for the same reason – bad user experience. This little trick is just like using a UPS store address. It’s just a PO box that looks like a street address. What’s the 1st thing A Googler or MapMaker Moderator does when they suspect foul play and address violations? They look at street view on maps and what will they see? A big ole post office. WHACK! Place page deleted!

The other potential downfall to UBL’s suggestion is explained in UBL’s 2nd link. “There is one huge disadvantage to the USPS “street addressing” scheme, the entire p.o. box number must be used… Who will believe that #962264 is the number of a physical office? It will be readily apparent that this is indeed a p.o. box of some sort, not a physical address. PLUS see other important restrictions, problems and gotcha’s in the comments.

The info shared by UBL was not “best practice” but “worst practice”. If I were UBL I would post a retraction explaining why the info was ill advised. Because when Google reads this – which I assure you they will – I doubt they will appreciate it. And if anyone’s Place Page gets deleted due to UBL’s advice, the agency and business owner won’t be very happy either.