If You Have a Virtual Office, How Does That Impact SEO?

Google is all about finding information — including where businesses exist in the real world. The search engine wants to be able to tell users where they can find you, so creating a Google Business Profile is a great way to improve SEO and make you look more legitimate.

But what if you don’t have a physical address because you’re not a brick and mortar business? After all, a big part of your Google Business Profile is letting people see where you are using Google Maps. How does this impact SEO and, by extension, people’s ability to find your business using search?

Don’t Try to Pretend Your Virtual Office Is a Physical Office

Probably the number one thing you should know is that it is not a good idea to “pretend” you have a physical office. This doesn’t mean making up an address — hopefully no one reading this would even consider that — but most businesses work out of some location, and it can be tempting to list that. 

For example, say you work from home, but everything you do is online. You might think you need to list your home address as a way to show up in local results.

Nope. Don’t do it.

Why? Because Google can actually penalize you for saying a virtual office is a physical office. 

But your home is physical, you’re thinking. 

That’s not what Google means. 

For an office to qualify as a physical office, it must fulfill these 3 requirements from Google: 

  • Your business needs signage that is clear and visible of the business name.
  • The business needs to be able to accept clients at that location during business hours.
  • The business must be staffed during business hours.

That doesn’t absolutely guarantee that you will be penalized if you don’t fulfill these requirements, but is it really worth the possibility?

No. The answer is no.

So How Can You Let People Know Where Your Business Is Without an Address?

Here’s the good news. There are lots of virtual businesses out there, and Google knows this. It’s a number that is only likely to continue growing in coming years as more customers move away from using brick and mortar stores and do business online.

Because of this, Google has created a solution: listing a service area.

Admittedly, this isn’t a perfect solution for many businesses. Lots of companies with virtual offices do work in a wide variety of locations. Moreover, inputting your service area is not as impactful for most searches as a specific street address. And there are a number of businesses that do not qualify as serving area businesses according to Google — if you fall under this category, like we do at WR Digital Marketing, you’re out of luck.

That being said, it is way better than having no local information. 

So, what does Google mean by a service area business?

To use a service area, your business must be one of the following business types:

  • Service-area business: A business that visits or delivers to customers directly, but doesn’t serve customers at their business address. 
    • For example, businesses like cleaning services or plumbers. 
    • Service-area businesses can only create one profile for the metropolitan area that they serve.
  • Hybrid business: A business that serves customers at their business address, but also directly visits or delivers to customers. If your business doesn’t have permanent on-site signage, it’s not eligible as a storefront and should be listed as a service-area business.
    • For example, a dine-in restaurant that also delivers food. 
    • Hybrid businesses can show their storefront address, set their hours for when they’re staffed at that address, and designate a service area.”

No Physical Office Or Service Area?

There are still things that you can do to to optimize your Google Business Profile and bolster your searchability. 

Want to learn more? Set up a free consultation to learn how we can help.