Getting a Google My Business Listing also called a GMB listing is a vital piece of marketing your business online locally. The difficulty has become getting that listing using a virtual office or any location that would not be a full-time office or is just a mailing address that you do not actually work out of during business hours.
There was a time not too long ago where a small business owner or start up could get a virtual office space and get a local listing in Google. Now a days this has become harder and harder as Google has gotten smarter about these types of locations getting a listing approved that uses a virtual office address is pretty slim! I am not saying that it is impossible but it’s pretty close.
The main reason for this is that at one time this was a tactic to gain local rankings in places that you really did not office however when people showed up at the location looking for the business only to find out you really do not office there this became a problem that Google decided to solve by not allowing addresses known to be virtual office spaces to get a local listing.
This has the effect that now to get into the local rankings and get a GMB listing you must have an actual office space for the most part.
Google Does Not Want Virtual Office Addresses On GMB Listings
Google is not likely to verify and approve a virtual locations any longer. You may get lucky and squeak by but as of late there has been a crackdown on GMB listings that are in violation of their guidelines and things like a virtual office or mailbox is against their guidelines. The other big thing on their radar is not using your actual business name but a name that has a keyword in it that pertains to your business and how you want to rank in local search. Even if you get an approval you are running a chance of getting suspended down the road.
Getting Suspended Can Mean
- Loosing all the work you did or had done to optimize the listing and give it good visibility
- Loosing all your reviews
- If you can not get it reinstated loosing complete local visibility in Google for map rankings and the 3 pack
If your Google My Business Listing Gets Suspended Due To A Virtual Office Address
There are lots of reasons your GMB listing can get suspended and using a virtual office is a big one. The difficulty in getting a suspension lifted based on a virtual office location is that the proof required that you actually office there is not something you will be able to come up with easily.
- Google will want to see actual signage of the location with your business name
- A utility bill that is coming to that address for your business
- Business documents that have the address listed as the place where you conduct business
- You may have to provide proof that you are not sharing office space with another business
- Proof that you have staff at that location during business hours
Now you may not have to present all these things that will be up to Google and the person reviewing your account. Just looking at what we have listed above if you have a local listing approved and you get a suspension and you need to fight it having to present any of these will be difficult when you have a virtual office. So, the best idea is to get a real office.
Using A Home Address
Can I use my home address? Is a question that comes to mind when your using a home office or you’re a start up on a limited budget that needs local visibility in search and you can’t afford an office yet. So is using your home address viable? The easiest way to get your GMB listing approved when you do not have an office location and you work from home is to use your home address for that purpose.
However please know that this can also get you suspended, and you will have to prove that there is an actual business there. Now you may have a much better chance of getting reinstated where with a virtual office the proof will likely be impossible for you to provide to get your listing reinstated.
Some problems that come with using your home address as a business location:
- Your address is now public, and people may show up at your front door. (There is a way to make this work using the GMB service area option)
- If you get the listing suspended, you may have a hard time getting the proof Google requires to reinstate you. One is you need to have a sign. If you are in a subdivision your HOA will likely not allow that since most do not want businesses operating from residences.
- Your business information must reflect that your home address is the actual location of the business.
So, the lesser of the evils is to use your home office until you can afford an actual office location but please do not go into this thinking it’s the answer to it all.
If you choose to use a home address you can opt to be a service area business where your service area is specified by you and the actual address will not be shown publicly. Here is how to do this
Service Area Business Option:
- Sign in to Google My Business and choose the listing you’d like to manage.
- Click Info at the top of the page.
- Click the Address section.
- In the window that appears, select the box next to “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations.”
- Enter your service area information. You can set your service area based on the zip codes or cities that you serve, or on a given area around your location.
- Select the box next to “I serve customers at my business address” if you want your complete address to appear on Google and your business location is staffed and able to receive customers during its stated hours.
- Click Save.