|By Farzin Andrew Espahani | Solution21 | VP of Growth and Marketing|
The coworking office is nothing new—in fact, they have existed for years around the world. These office types are popular with companies in the early stages of growth and provide entrepreneurs with a way to expand business while keeping overhead low. Here at Solution21, we get many questions from our clients about how to ensure their coworking office complies with the standards of Google My Business listings and whether or not it can negatively impact their listing status. While we have guidelines for representing your business on Google, it may be difficult to understand what classifies and what does not. Throughout this article, we will discuss what makes a coworking office space qualify for Google business representation.
Coworking Office vs. Virtual Office
There are two definitions when it comes to an office space utilized by one or more professionals and how it is viewed by Google. The first is the virtual office. A virtual office is often linked to a mailing address that is not a P.O. Box but is not occupied by the business itself. Virtual offices may also have a call center, receptionist, or personal phone number. Google guidelines typically do not support virtual offices as they are not at real-world locations, are not the location at which business is conducted, and do not have regular hours of operation.
In contrast, a coworking office is a physical location that has specific business hours and is shared by several professionals or practitioners. There are many benefits to having a coworking office, including:
• Reliable and stable WiFi access
• Reduced spending on startup costs
• Comingling with other sole proprietors
• Having a location that is not one’s home address
• Less costly monthly costs for rent and utilities
• Networking with coworkers
• Sharing of amenities with other business professionals
Coworking office spaces can be utilized and eligible for the Google My Business inclusion.
Why Choose Coworking Offices?
Spaces where companies or individuals cowork are a great solution for:
• Companies just getting off the ground who have limited funding
• Sole proprietors interested in avoiding social isolation
• Work-from-home business owners who want to avoid listing their personal home address on the internet
• Professionals seeking reliable WiFi and internet services
• Business owners needing office space but have limited funds for renting/leasing their own building
• Individuals desiring amenities, a specific location in the city, or opportunities to network with others
Requirements for Google My Business Listings
It is essential for coworking offices to meet the specific requirements to be included in Google My Business listings. Below is a number of guidelines that must be met in order to avoid going against the guidelines listed on the Google website:
• Physical occupation of the space
• Receipt of postal mail at the coworking office
• Listing of own phone number with direct connection to you
• Hours of operations listed and followed
• Hiding of address if service area business (SAB) or clients met by appointment only
• Maintain legitimate suite numbers for the office
• Create one listing even if utilizing different spaces in the coworking office
• Do not create multiple listings in Google My Business for different services
• Work with an SEO agency who understands the risks associated with advertising a coworking location on Google My Business.
When all of this information is followed, companies should be able to enjoy exposure through the Google My Business listings. This includes providing Google My Business with a dedicated phone number for your company. However, there are two primary concerns that need to be considered that could increase the risk of problems with Google My Business inclusion. These include accidental merging and industry history.
Google My Business may notice a post from another professional at your address and try to merge the information into one. This happens a lot with coworking spaces and could be avoided by providing separate phone numbers. If this occurs, business owners can contact Google directly to explain the confusion and have the listings manually separated.
In addition, a negative history with a specific industry may cause issues including SEO agencies, design firms, and other companies known to work virtually instead of directly with clients at a specific location. The decision to remove or eliminate a listing because of industry history may be due to past experience with these specific kinds of companies resulting in high levels of spam or fraudulent behaviors. This may cause the business to be classified as a virtual office and not a coworking office resulting in a listing takedown. In situations such as this, it may be important to speak to a professional on the Google My Business Community Forum to support your case for inclusion and resolve the issue.
Because of concerns such as the merging of listings and potential issues with industry history, it is essential that business owners and marketing professionals are diligent in keeping track of their Google My Business listing to ensure it is properly represented over time as an appropriate and legitimate business.
Understanding Real World Businesses
Google has continued to grow dramatically over the last two decades. In terms of search engine optimization efforts, this area of the industry has experienced exponential growth that can make it difficult for the search engine to accurately reflect scenarios in real-world business.
For example, Google has a direct impact on many industry search results. It wasn’t until recently they offered a phone number for business owners to call for support. Millions of businesses are listed with Google and needed a point of contact to address concerns regarding their search engine results locally and around the world. Google has also had a tendency to treat local businesses as an afterthought, not realizing they are at the core of local commerce growth.
Unemployment and underemployment is currently occurring at the rate of approximately 10% within the United States, and the cost of commercial spaces continues to rise at a steady pace. This leads many entrepreneurs to consider affordable alternatives when starting up a new business. When coworking spaces are the new normal, it is important that companies such as Google understand the changes happening with today’s business professionals and ensure their guidelines make it possible for smaller, newer companies to achieve the success they desire.
With high costs of renting space and paying utilities, many start-up companies are enjoying the benefits of coworking offices and how they can make it more affordable to start an organization from scratch. If you have had a positive experience in working with other professionals in a coworking office, let us know more by adding comments, tips, or suggestions below!