Google My Business is a valuable marketing tool that lets you show up in search results when people are searching the Internet to find business in their location.
When I say ‘people’ I mean both existing customers that might need further information about you and potential customers that don’t use your products or services yet.
Nowadays, search is digital. All businesses (including brick-and-mortar stores) must have a presence online as most purchase decisions start with an online search. Therefore, the first step to increasing your business’s visibility is to have an online presence. Google My Business gives you a great opportunity to increase your visibility on the web – you do not even need a website to begin using it.
But let’s start from the beginning. First and foremost, Google My Business is a free marketing tool that is extremely important for your local SEO strategy because it allows you to manage the way your business is displayed on Google Search and Google Maps.
There are other great search engines (such as Bing – I also suggest you set up Bing Places for Businesses) – But there are some very good reasons as to why Google retains more than 90% of market share. Google provides a great search experience, it has a sophisticated algorithm to provide searches with what they are looking for and offers a wide range of innovative products (you can find a list of 15 free Google tools to enhance your marketing strategy here).
Therefore, Google My Business gives all business owners the chance to attract new customers, connect with already existing customers, see how they are interacting with their businesses, and boost their confidence. In a nutshell, a Google My Business profile is a must-have for every business owner.
But what about start-up owners? What if you run a small business remotely? Do you believe that running a business without a physical office prevents you from enjoying all the benefits of this amazing marketing tool? No, absolutely not. You do not need a physical office or a brick-and-mortar store to gain business visibility with Google My Business and get more customers (and keep them coming).
If you haven’t already set up Google My Business because you believe that it is accessible only to business owners who run their businesses from a brick-and-mortar office (or that you are worried about listing your personal home address online), this post will reveal to you a whole new business strategy. Once you understand that you can have a business physical presence without actually having a physical presence (I know it sounds odd but I promise I will explain to you what I mean in the next section of this post) you can significantly boost your business growth.
Table of contents:
- Can you use a Virtual Office for Google My Business?
- Why should you set up Google My Business with a Virtual Office?
- How to set up Google My Business using a Virtual Office
1. Can you use a Virtual Office for Google My Business?
Yes, you can use a virtual office address to set up a Google My Business profile and gain more visibility in Google Search. However, the virtual office provider must meet some specific requirements in order for you to be able to use your virtual office address to claim your Google My Business listing. Companies that use B2B HQ’s virtual offices are eligible companies that meet the criteria for this service, according to Google’s policy.
The guidelines for representing your business on Google state that:
- Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are.
According to this rule, you are allowed to use a virtual office address as long as your provider gives you the opportunity to use their offices when you need them (just like B2B HQ does). Even though you run your business remotely, your provider should allow you to access professional, tech-enabled meeting rooms and boardrooms to conduct your business meetings and meet your customers.
This is what I meant to say with ‘you can have a business physical presence without actually having a physical presence’. With a virtual office, you can get all the benefits of a physical office (meaning that you can have a real physical address and an office that you can access whenever you need as well as other perks and benefits) and yet work remotely. Anyway, the purpose of this post is to share why and how to set up Google My Business with a virtual office so, for further details about virtual offices, please check this post.
Also, with a virtual office that allows you to work remotely, it is highly likely that you might travel to visit customers (meaning that you can meet the requirements stated above).
- Service-area businesses can’t list a ‘virtual’ office unless that office is staffed during opening hours.
B2B HQ meets this requirement as well. Our reception staff is available during business hours, from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. Also, you can set up your Google My Business listing to read ‘visitors by appointment only’. Our on-site receptionists can also inform your visitors (in case they visit you without arranging an appointment) that you are out of the office and will be able to contact them at the earliest opportunity.
Therefore, the purpose of this section of my post is to debunk the myths about virtual offices that are spread on the Internet. A virtual office does not provide you with a ‘fake’ address for your business but a real street address where offices that you can access are located.
Moreover, some people claim that no virtual office is eligible to be utilized as a Google My Business listing. But this is not true, as demonstrated above. You only have to pay attention when choosing your virtual office provider so that they can meet all of the requirements specified in the guidelines for representing a business on Google.
2. Why should you set up Google My Business with a Virtual Office?
The reasons why a business (of any kind) needs to create a Google My Business listing are obvious. Google My Business is a great tool that helps a business owner to:
- Improve SEO ranking
- Gain visibility on Google Maps
- Keep customers informed
- Improve customers’ confidence
- Increase credibility with business reviews
- Reply to the queries of the customers/potential customers in real-time
- Increase traffic and sales
- Have a higher return on investment (ROI), as stated by Entrepreneur magazine
But why should you set up Google My Business with a virtual office address? I strongly believe that you have several good reasons as to why you should claim your business on Google My Business using a virtual office as long as you do not use or need permanent physical office space.
Also, if you do not use or need physical office space you cannot claim your business on Google My Business meaning that you are not able to enjoy the benefits of this amazing marketing tool.
In other words, your Google My Business listing will add more value to the benefits that a virtual office can bring to your business, such as:
- Improve your business perception and make it appear more professional and trustworthy (because your company will be listed on Google at a professional fixed business address where you can access meeting rooms to meet your customers)
- Win more customers and retain them (because customers trust businesses that have a good online reputation. We are also proud to inform you that one of B2B HQ’s clients generated 4 leads within their 2nd week of setting it up).
- Improve communication with your customers (firstly, because a virtual office allows you to access a wide range of services designed to ensure effective communication with your customers, such as a virtual receptionist and a local landline plan. Secondly, because Google My Business helps you keep customers informed and reply to their queries in real-time, as mentioned previously).
3. How to set up Google My Business using a Virtual Office
Setting up Google My Business does not take a lot of time. However, I recommend you set it up from a desktop or a laptop as it will be much easier (I know from experience). Just follow the below steps:
- Go to Google My Business and click on ‘Sign In’ in the top right corner.
- Create a Google Account (or sign in to your existing one), then click Next. This is because you need a Google account before starting this process. Of course, you should sign up using your business email domain, since this account will be used for your company.
- Enter your business name. Then, input your business’s physical address and click Next (this is the unique business address you get from your virtual office provider – please note that not all virtual office providers offer unique business addresses to their customers like B2B HQ does. Also, I remind you that not all virtual office providers meet the guideline for representing a business on Google).
- Decide if you want your business displayed on Google Maps.
- If you provide for your customers at your business address, type in the business address you got from your virtual office provider and click Next (Note: If you serve customers outside of your business address area, you will have the option to input your additional service areas. In this case, you have to enter one or more regions, cities, or ZIP codes that your business serves).
- If you do not provide for your customers at your business address, type in the business address you got from your virtual office provider. At the bottom of the page, click, ‘I deliver goods and services to my customers’, then click Next. Finally, type in your service areas and click Next.
- Explore business categories and select the appropriate one and then click Next (expert secret: search in Google to find your competitors and see what categories they use). However, I recommend you be as accurate as possible with this selection so that you can rank for the right listings as this field will influence the search terms you appear in Google for.
- Input your website’s URL and business phone number and then click Finish (Australian Landline Phone Numbers, like the ones provided by B2B HQ, have been proven to work the best. Never use a mobile phone for this field).
- Note: You will have an additional option to create a free website. I suggest you not to do this, as it can cause a lot of issues with your current website.
- Verification: To use Google My Business to its fullest, you must verify your business (otherwise, you may not be able to update business information or view analytics). In order to complete this step, select ‘Postcard by Mail’, as this is how Google verifies you physically have an address at the location outlined.
The Postcard Verification is the most used verification process (meaning that a verification postcard should reach you at the address provided by your virtual office provider within 5 days). The postcard shows a code that you must enter in your Google My Business account to verify your business. In the extraordinary case where your code does not show up, you may click on ‘Request another code’ in your Google My Business account.
Note: If you see ‘This listing has already been claimed’, click on Request Access and follow the instructions to claim your business.
- Finally, sit back and have a nice glass of wine (or just a good coffee), as your Google My Business profile is now set up and you’re one step closer to business success.
Please note that this is only the first step in your Google My Business listing process. Once you have an official verified listing, it’s time to polish up your profile and optimise it by adding photos and videos, updating your business hours and contact information, requesting Google reviews, and more.
You will learn everything you need to know about how to completely optimise your Google My Business listing from my upcoming post.
If you want to use your Google My Business listing as a powerful local SEO and marketing tool but you do not own or need physical office space, B2B HQ’s team would be more than happy to provide you with a flexible and cost-effective business solution so that you can list your company on Google and start to increase trust and visibility.