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My website uses a distribution service to ship orders. I don't have a physical location. I also travel a lot for business so I got a mail forwarding address. All the mail goes to that address and then I can have it forwarded wherever I am traveling at.

The other week I tried to add my company to Google Business. For the address, I put the mail forwarding address. I thought this was just to verify the business but since it would likely be listed I wanted to use this forwarding address. After submitting it, I immediately got a warning "this address has been flagged". I won't let me go back and change it.

Anyway, not sure if my exact address has been flagged as being BAD or Google sees this is a forwarding address and doesn't allow any forwarding addresses.

It also made me wonder if Googlebot, who I am 100% sure can see WHOIS records even with privacy set, cares if a mail forwarding address is used with WHOIS? Not even sure WHOIS likes this? Does anybody know if it can affect a site's trust level and prevent it from ranking? I've read YES IT CAN but I'm also wondering why Google doesn't just write me via Search Console to say "you're using a mail forwarding address, please change it".

Am I overthinking this?

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    "who I am 100% sure can see WHOIS records even with privacy set" what makes you say that. What evidence do you have?
    – Steve
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 22:33
  • whois is public, and there are no options. if you registrar did not send your contact data to the registry, then the registry whois server can not show anything more (than what the registrar sent it) and the same thing for the registrar whois server that will not disclose all data. But besides that your question is more for Google and not really about whois (which also depends a lot on the domain name/TLD that you did not disclose), and since it is not about running a website, it is kind of offtopic here. Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 1:07
  • "why Google doesn't just write me via Search Console to say "you're using a mail forwarding address, please change it"." Did you ask Google about this? Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 1:07

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Google requires a real physical address for a Google business listing that it will show on Google Maps. Google needs to know that the address listed for the business is valid and appropriate to show on maps. Google doesn't allow forwarding services for business listings because they have been used to make businesses show up in inappropriate places on their maps. Google sends a mail to your physical business address with a confirmation code that you need to verify your address.

Websites don't need a physical address to show up in web search. It wouldn't make much sense for Google to rank sites with validated physical addresses better for most web queries. When looking for information, users don't care much about the location of the author. They care more about the quality of the information. Using a forwarding service for your postal address in WHOIS is unlikely to hurt your website's rankings.

Using a privacy service when registering your domain keeps your personal information out of WHOIS, even for Googlebot. Unless you register your domain with Google Domains and use their privacy controls, Googlebot won't have any special access to your real address.

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