Preventing GBP Suspension as a Co-Working Space User
Last February, Google included co-working space information to their guidelines regarding Google Business Profile (GBP), previously called Google My Business.
As its name infers, a co-working space or shared office space is any physical location where workers, as individuals or as businesses, gather to share a workspace with other individuals or companies.
Sharing co-working space has proven to be a cost-efficient way for small businesses, startup organizations, and freelance workers to have a dedicated workspace aside from a home office. A shared space will give them this with no requirement for purchasing or leasing an entire office location.
Provided that Google guidelines are followed, a co-working or shared office location may be used for a GBP address. However, Google does not allow a virtual office address, which is basically just a mailing address.
Although permitted, having a co-working or shared office location is not as clear-cut in Google's guidelines versus a traditional physical office location. Google is more critical of co-working or shared office listings for GBP, making these businesses more prone to account suspension. The co-working and shared office space guidelines are outlined briefly under the "Address" section. This section fundamentally states businesses can only list at locations that display distinct signage with the business name, are open during business hours to receive customers there, and must be staffed by your business team during these given hours. Don't create a GBP if you're unable to meet customers at this space. Likewise, don't use your space as a mailing address only or create a false suite or room number.
Examples of Permitted Businesses for Co-working or Shared Spaces
Small social media or marketing agencies
Various kinds of specialists, such as attorneys, accountants, and tax professionals
Freelancers who are unable to receive clients at their home
Small startup businesses
Home businesses seeking a more suitable location with good WiFi access
Tips for Qualified Businesses in Completing their GBP Information
Once you are confident your office space follows all the GBP guidelines, these tips can help you have the best advantage from your profile.
1. Ensure the Physical Signage Reflects Your Business Name
While keyword stuffing their business name is an easy way for many to gain Google rankings, this method can also trigger a suspension.
With Google already distrusting the use of co-working spaces as business addresses, business name keyword stuffing not only makes profile identification more difficult, but this practice will make your profile an easier target for spam deterrents and competitors. Even a recommended edit or remedial submission to the form can result in suspension. As a result, it's crucial that your business name is identical to all your physical signage and matches other proof of your business.
2. Carefully Observe Neighboring Space Business Categories
Consult with other business owners sharing your space to find how many have business types similar to yours. Should one have a GBP sharing an identical category or contends for overlapping keywords, it's likely one of these profiles will be filtered.
3. Observe the "Located In" Attribute
Contingent on your co-working or shared space, there may be a "Located In" attribute in the knowledge panel. If you don't see this in your GBP, you might want to add it to help others find your co-working space more easily. To add the "Located In" to your profile, from your profile click "Suggest an Edit," then beneath "Change Name or Other Details" scroll down to the map to the "Located Within" segment. Add the co-working or shared space where it's located, then click "Send." If the change doesn't take effect within three business days, contact the GBP Help to expedite your update.
4. Remember to Include Your Service Area
If, in addition to your co-working or shared space, your business meets with customers at their own locations, then add your service area. Again, if customers only meet with you outside of your co-working space, you cannot use this space's address in your GBP listing.
5. Ensure Operating Hours for Your Business Correspond with Operating Hours of Your Space
Your customers should be able to visit your business during its posted business hours. If you've configured the "Located in" attribute on your GBP listing, it's important for your operating hours to be consistent with your space's operating hours. Any contradictions could raise a red flag for GBP suspension and be more susceptible to be recognized by spam deterrents and competitors.
If your business is open to customers by appointment only, you can still create a GBP as long as you can commit to and give evidence of being continually staffed at your co-working or shared location. Nevertheless, for these types of businesses, Google suggests removal of business hours from your profile. Instead, you can feature in your brand's description or COVID-19 post that you're open to customers by appointment only. However, remember if you can't prove your business is kept staffed at your space, this will seem suspicious to spam filters or competitors.
6. Emphasize Any Supplementary Products or Services Available Beyond Normal Business Hours
Not every aspect of your business has to center on a customer's personal visit. Contingent on your type of business, you might be able to add products and services. If your company has special side products or services, stress these in your GBP. As an example, if your business is small but also has an around-the-clock phone line for emergencies, you can add this to your list of additional services. Just remember, as Google doesn't permit a phone number or web URL inclusion, exclude those. If your business includes additional instructional online training that can be purchased without an in-person visit, you can add this to your product listings.
7. Supply Any Additional Business Information in Google Posts
A great number of details can be added to assist in proving your business is following all GBP guidelines. The following are various ways for adding further details:
If individual staff presence rotates, give updates on which staff members are in your office.
Emphasize any nearby road construction, office remodeling, or significant co-working space updates, such as mask mandates or management changes.
If you're just renting a work desk space for certain times of the day, known as hot-desking, which can fluctuate desk locations within an office, give daily updates or reminders on your business location within the office. These consistent posts won't stop suspension or prove eligibility for GBP, but dated screenshots of them can help you accumulate proof of your business being staffed, that your business has fixed signage, and that customers can meet with you within posted business hours.
Suspensions are inevitable, but each shred of evidence you can provide will help facilitate reinstatement.
8. Remember UTM Parameters
Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters aren't limited to co-working spaces GBP but they are the optimal method for tracking traffic originating from GBP listings and Google Posts.
9. Keep Images Current
Routinely updated images of personnel in their co-working spaces won't just verify your business is staffed, it will demonstrate to your customers or clients what they can anticipate from your business and illustrates a typical workday. It's beneficial to include current or updated images of your space, signage, and staff within your GBP listing.
10. Give Comprehensive Directions or Instructions in the Q&A Section
Though rarely used, the Question and Answer (Q&A) section in your GBP listing is a great chance to add more precise information for users to locate your business and its space.
Avoiding Suspension Due to Address Change
Keep in mind that although co-working or shared office spaces are permitted as a GBP address, it's still an easy target for suspension. Your odds of suspension are higher if your address changes frequently, so it's optimal to remain at the same co-working or shared space office as long as possible. When entering a contract for a space, it would be advantageous to ensure the space can be rented for more than a year. Updating to a new address also activates the account re-verification process, which now can take three to four months for the arrival of a snail-mail verification postcard.
Should your space's contract renewal require a change in your office or desk space, or if you can't renew, you may have no other option than submitting an address change to GBP. If this happens, you'll have to validate each step of your move. This validation comprises of documenting both the old and new addresses besides updated signage images or other physical marketing items displaying the actual business name.
Due to many businesses incorrectly using co-working or shared office spaces, Google Maps contains much spam. The result of these spammy profiles is that it brings more difficulty for non-spammy profiles to escape needless suspensions. Additionally, your competitors are able to have your GBP suspended by completing a Google spam redressal complaint form. Despite being able to validate you are following the Google guidelines, it's a tricky process to become reinstated after a suspension.
Once your co-working or shared office space address has been successfully verified, you still need to prepare in advance for a potential GBP suspension. This can be done by accumulating what documentation and proof might be required for reinstatement and by monitoring your GBP closely. Keep your images current, showing your staffed space and evident consistency in signage. Don't stop requesting and responding to reviews, whether good or bad. Continue adding to your Google Posts. Remain current on any products and services you might offer, so they continue to be accurate and highlight your website contents. Monitor your hours of operation to ensure your business hours don't conflict with your co-working or shared office space hours.
Keeping all these things in mind will aid you in keeping your profile accurate, which not only will be helpful to your customers but will assist you in preventing a potential suspension of your GBP account.
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