Google My Business recently mades a small change that may have a big impact on businesses that use home or virtual offices, reports Steve Wyer.
Google My Business offers business owners a complete set of rules and suggestions on how to best represent their business, according to Steve Wyer. Recently, the search engine made a relatively unnoticed tweak to the address portion of the guidelines. Steve Wyer says the change affects service-area businesses and clearly states they are no longer allowed to use a virtual office address on their listing unless said office is attended during stated business hours.
Steve Wyer notes that Google specifically mentions hybrid service-area businesses, such as pizzerias, which are free to show their physical address and also designate a service area within Google My Business.
Google continues to have the ultimate say on how a business is displayed based on available information from multiple sources, reports Steve Wyer.
Google My Business basic guidelines
According to Steve Wyer, businesses may only qualify for a Google My Business account if they are staffed with people that make contact with customers or potential customers during stated hours. The only exceptions to this rule are express mail drop boxes, video rental kiosks, and automated bank tellers. Steve Wyer adds that these locations must clearly display contact information where customers can get help if needed.
There are a number of businesses that are not eligible for a Google My Business listing, Steve Wyer reports. These include those that remain under construction or have yet to open to the public. Vacation and model homes are also ineligible, though leasing offices may be approved upon verification. According to Steve Wyer, Google also forbids ongoing classes and services in which the provider does not have the authority to represent the brand.
Authorized representatives, such as business managers, may claim their company’s Google My Business listing provided they have the express consent of the business owner. Steve Wyer describes an authorized representative as a network affiliate, CEO, or personal acquaintance of the business owner.
Google requires ample information before approving a Google My Business listing. Steve Wyer says that this includes the business’s real-world name, defined as the one consistently used across marketing materials. A physical address is required and remote mail locations or Post Office boxes are not sufficient, says Steve Wyer. Businesses must also commit to specific business hours, which can be changed, and may also specify holiday or special event hours.
In addition to the above information, business owners should ensure they are classified correctly by using as few categories as possible to accurately describe their services. Steve Wyer cautions against using categories as keywords and suggests abstaining from those that describe adjoining businesses.
Steve Wyer says Google My Business is a powerful tool for business owners and managers looking to get the most out of the world’s largest search engine. For more information about Google My Business, AdWords, and other marketing tools visit support.Google.com.
The CEO of Third Coast Interactive, Inc., Steve Wyer is a speaker, author, and expert in online digital branding and identity.