If your business is listed on Google My Business as in a Virtual Office you may, at some point, have found yourself pretty confused. Can be used as a valid primary location or not? Well believe us, you’re not alone. So you may be pleased to hear that the latest GMB update has clarified the issue. The update has ruled out virtual offices as valid service-areas for businesses unless the office is actually staffed during business hours.
Previously, it was common for listings to continuously (and annoyingly) get suspended and reinstated. This was due to Google’s customer service team’s inability to agree on whether or not they were in violation of guidelines. Thankfully, however, these changes in GMB guidelines should clear up any confusion.
The new addition can be found in a recently added section, under the “Address” portion of the guidelines, labelled “Service-area businesses” here.
Service-area businesses – i.e. businesses that serve customers at their locations — should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point. Service-area businesses can’t list a “virtual” office unless that office is staffed during business hours.
Certain hybrid service-area businesses are able to show both their storefront address and designate a service area in Google My Business. For instance, if you are a pizzeria that has both restaurant seating and offers delivery for customers like me who prefer to eat their pizza in bed, you can do this.
If you serve customers at your address and want to set a service area, your business location should be staffed by your team and able to receive customers during its stated hours.
Google will determine how best to display your business address based on your business information as well as information from other sources.
The question about the enforcement of these guidelines still remains, but overall these updates should lead to less confusion with regards to Google My Business and the use of a virtual office by their customers.