“Can I Get a Temporary Location to Rank in Google Local Search?”

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A client of mine asked me a great question the other day:

He owns a water-damage-restoration service in the part of Colorado that’s had major flooding.  He wanted to know to what extent he could get visible in the Google+ Local (AKA Google Places) results in one of the hardest-hit cities – Boulder – using a temporary business location.

My client – let’s call him Pat – phrased the question this way:

“We had a lot of flooding here and we have been busy.  I am going to open another temporary location in Boulder and I wonder if that is an opportunity to get on the Google maps?”

Here was my quick response:

“Getting visible in Google+ Local there might be a stretch, just because it usually takes at least a couple of months to get anywhere in local search.  If you do want to go that route, I’d suggest whipping together a landing page specifically for Boulder, renting a real office (not a PO or UPS box), and using that landing page and address for Google+ Local.  Depending on how much you want to invest in it, how long you’d want to be in town, and whether there’s any chance that location would ever become permanent, you might also want to get the basic citations squared away or hook your Boulder location up to Yext.

“Again, the above isn’t surefire, but it’s what I’d suggest if you wanted to give Google+ Local (in Boulder) the old college try.  No matter what, I’d definitely suggest doing a Boulder page on your site and running AdWords.”

Google is fine with your using a location that you won’t necessarily use for the long-term provided you aren’t breaking the rules, like by using a fake address.  In that sense, you can get visible on the “local map” with a temporary location.

The bigger question is: will you rank well locally?  As you probably know, it usually takes months.  It really just comes down to how many local competitors there are who offer what you offer.  If there are lots of more-established businesses in the area, don’t expect much.  On the other hand, if you’re offering a semi-niche emergency-related service, the bar may be pretty low.

So if you play by the rules and have a good reason for using a temporary location – like that you’re serving a disaster area – then I say go forth and hang your shingle.  But don’t have lofty expectations, and definitely do have other sources of visibility.


  1. If I were Pat, I’d do these three things:

    1. Run a click to call campaign on Adwords to make use of the deluge of inquries that will come up after the floods
    2. Run a groupon offering people a discounted price for flood restoration a few days before and after the storm
    3. Contact all my competitors offering them a finder fee if they turn in customers they can’t service to me.

    Though it’s nice to be visible on Google Local, I don’t think it’s achievable in days if not months.

    • Excellent points, Ashwin. I agree. Being visible in Google+ Local isn’t usually achievable quickly at all, but – as I mentioned to Pat – it really depends on the circumstances, on the industry, and on the competitive landscape.

      • Yup! If it’s an industry which is easy to rank for, G+ may yet make sense. I think there’s a goldmine of opportunity awaiting anyone who can hack into weather APIs to automatically run cross-channel campaigns for local businesses like Pat’s that are weather dependant.

    • My recommendation in this situation would be a combination of Ashwin’s and your (Phil’s) advice: I’d definitely set up a Boulder specific landing page but then put my time/$$ into AdWords/PPC for that area/page. AdWords is quick and nimble and customizable – this (in my opinion) is the perfect use for it.

      • I agree, Eric. Thanks. My client could tell that I wasn’t saying “Hell yeah – go for Google Places!” precisely because it usually takes too long, and because it’s not “nimble” (to borrow your word).

  2. Excellent approaches from both of you. Good sound advice that really anyone could benefit from.

  3. Phil – any update on this? did your client get that Boulder location? if so, what kind of SEO work did you end up doing for it?

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