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I have a decorator client with 5 locations. All locations show the address. When I took them on as a client 3 years ago I advised them that this was not the correct way to set up their GBP listings as they are a SAB. However, they didnt want to change anything.

The addresses they use are virual offices with a phone answering service that provide a phone number with an area code and a physical address for mail.

Yesterday, 1 of the locations was disabled - not suspended?

The only thing that seems to violate Googles guidelines is the SAB issue - so the client has agreed to hide the address.

The problem is now with the reinstatement...

The form asks for documentation but there is none of the required documentation for this address. Everything goes to the registered head office. How strict are Google with this as part of the reinstatement and can we explain our way round it? Surely this is a similar story for 1000's of businesses that use virtual offices for SAB's.

Any other advice gratefully recieved!
 

keyserholiday

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The short answer is you will not be able to get reinstated. The longer answer is the following. If your client does not have an actual office with signage, then they are violating the TOS. What you have described is a violation of Google's TOS. They can show their address as long as they have an actual office with signage. They don't need to hide the address to be a Service area business. Your client will soon lose their other business profiles since they are out of compliance with Google's TOS.
 
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The short answer is you will not be able to get reinstated. The longer answer is the following. If your client does not have an actual office with signage, then they are violating the TOS. What you have described is a violation of Google's TOS. They can show their address as long as they have an actual office with signage. They don't need to hide the address to be a Service area business. Your client will soon lose their other business profiles since they are out of compliance with Google's TOS.

From Google's TOS -

Service-area businesses​

Service-area businesses, or businesses that serve customers at their locations, should have one profile for the central office or location with a designated service area. Service-area businesses can't list a "virtual" office unless that office is staffed during business hours.

All their locations are virtual offices that are staffed during working hours
 

keyserholiday

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From Google's TOS -

Service-area businesses​

Service-area businesses, or businesses that serve customers at their locations, should have one profile for the central office or location with a designated service area. Service-area businesses can't list a "virtual" office unless that office is staffed during business hours.

All their locations are virtual offices that are staffed during working hours

Do they have an actual office with signage?
 

keyserholiday

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No but why is that relevant if they are going down the SAB route within the above TOS?

Then they are outside of compliance and don't qualify for a GBP. It doesn't matter if they show or hide the address, they need to have an actual office with signage to qualify with Google's TOS. Google is not going to reinstate the business profile and the others can be suspended too.
 
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sorry if i am being stupid but why are thy outside of compliance if TOS states a virtual office is acceptable for a SAB? Surely there are lots of businesses that operate from homes that don't have signage but have remote workers servicing locations as SAB's via virtual offices?
 

keyserholiday

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The reason to set up a SAB is if you are using your private address. Google doesn't want the address to be shown. That is the reason for hiding the address. While a plumber would be a great case to set up a SAB, it's not needed as nobody is going to take a clogged sink to the plumber. If the plumber has a physical address like this plumber, then they can show their address.

In order to use a virtual office, it can't be a hot desk or use a conference room. They need to have their own office that they can lock and unlock, an employee needs to be in the office during posted hours and they need to have signage on the door or on the exterior wall. Your client doesn't have this, hence they don't qualify for a GBP. The other 4 GBPs will eventually get suspended for the TOS violation.
 
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So

1) how are a company like rentokil able to target every town without an address on maps or having offices with signage? - rentokil

2) will all other business that use virtual offices in this way (of which there are millions) start getting disabled?

3) can we not tell Google that the suspension has alerted us to the fact that the profiles were originally set up incorrectly and we want to rectify it by clearing the address altogether?

4) The Google guide for SAB's here states that ;
  • Service-area businesses can only create one profile for the metropolitan area that they serve.
what us the compliant set up for SAB's in multiple metropolitan areas as per Rentokil?

Thanks

P.S Hopefully this is helpful to others and not just an idiot looking dumb :)
 

seaniaaa

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So

1) how are a company like rentokil able to target every town without an address on maps or having offices with signage? - rentokil

2) will all other business that use virtual offices in this way (of which there are millions) start getting disabled?

3) can we not tell Google that the suspension has alerted us to the fact that the profiles were originally set up incorrectly and we want to rectify it by clearing the address altogether?

4) The Google guide for SAB's here states that ;
  • Service-area businesses can only create one profile for the metropolitan area that they serve.
what us the compliant set up for SAB's in multiple metropolitan areas as per Rentokil?

Thanks

P.S Hopefully this is helpful to others and not just an idiot looking dumb :)

I'm going to jump in here. Respectfully, I fully disagree with the assertion that a business without signage cannot list itself on GBP. SAB's are fully acceptable and there is no requirement for signage. BUT, you have to meet all of Google's requirements. You have to have permanent physical space at the location, it must be staffed during all business hours(your own staff, not co-working reception staff), and you must meet customers out in the community you serve. If it's an office location that also does co-working/virtual, you could get it verified by asserting that you do have space there and then requesting and completing a video verification. However, a fully virtual business location is a non-starter and completely out of bounds for Google's TOS.
I would advise your client that the jig is up. You already told them they needed to change but they were getting away with it so they did not. Google is now onto them and will likely disable all of the profiles at some point. They need to invest in new locations that meet Google's requirements. That is the only way. You can work with co-working spaces, but pure virtual is a dead end, full stop.

Once they have a new address, you can email support saying the business has moved and see if they will allow you to perform a video verification.
 

keyserholiday

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So

1) how are a company like rentokil able to target every town without an address on maps or having offices with signage? - rentokil

2) will all other business that use virtual offices in this way (of which there are millions) start getting disabled?

3) can we not tell Google that the suspension has alerted us to the fact that the profiles were originally set up incorrectly and we want to rectify it by clearing the address altogether?

4) The Google guide for SAB's here states that ;
  • Service-area businesses can only create one profile for the metropolitan area that they serve.
what us the compliant set up for SAB's in multiple metropolitan areas as per Rentokil?

Thanks

P.S Hopefully this is helpful to others and not just an idiot looking dumb :)

I have no way of knowing what address was used to set up any of these business profiles. I can tell you that there is at least one violation with the business profiles. They have overlapping service areas. I have concerns about the naming structure. If the name is violating the guidelines, then it won't matter what address they are using as Google will remove all of them for the violations. Do you know for a fact what addresses they are using to create these profiles?
 

keyserholiday

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I'm going to jump in here. Respectfully, I fully disagree with the assertion that a business without signage cannot list itself on GBP. SAB's are fully acceptable and there is no requirement for signage. BUT, you have to meet all of Google's requirements. You have to have permanent physical space at the location, it must be staffed during all business hours(your own staff, not co-working reception staff), and you must meet customers out in the community you serve. If it's an office location that also does co-working/virtual, you could get it verified by asserting that you do have space there and then requesting and completing a video verification. However, a fully virtual business location is a non-starter and completely out of bounds for Google's TOS.
I would advise your client that the jig is up. You already told them they needed to change but they were getting away with it so they did not. Google is now onto them and will likely disable all of the profiles at some point. They need to invest in new locations that meet Google's requirements. That is the only way. You can work with co-working spaces, but pure virtual is a dead end, full stop.

Once they have a new address, you can email support saying the business has moved and see if they will allow you to perform a video verification.

You must have visible and permanent signage. This is a non-negotiable with Google. If a business were to contact Google for help, the first thing support does is look for signage. If a business is suspended, you have to supply GBP with signage if you are not using your home address and hiding the address.

Also, they can use a virtual office as long as they have an executive office, that is staffed during posted hours and has signage. Google is not going to allow them to just update the address and perform a video verification, they must apply for reinstatement. You are wrong on all 3 counts.
 
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I have no way of knowing what address was used to set up any of these business profiles. I can tell you that there is at least one violation with the business profiles. They have overlapping service areas. I have concerns about the naming structure. If the name is violating the guidelines, then it won't matter what address they are using as Google will remove all of them for the violations. Do you know for a fact what addresses they are using to create these profiles?

If you are referring to the Rentokil example then it looks like it is the home address of there technicians which means there won't be any signage and the address will need to change regularly with staff turnover. If you search Yell for rentokil in one of those metro areas, it's a home address. https://www.yell.com/biz/aberdeen-pest-control-and-environmental-services-aberdeen-8407734/

Maybe they are getting away with it because they are a multi national.

Any feedback on my other points?
 

seaniaaa

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You must have visible and permanent signage. This is a non-negotiable with Google. If a business were to contact Google for help, the first thing support does is look for signage. If a business is suspended, you have to supply GBP with signage if you are not using your home address and hiding the address.

Also, they can use a virtual office as long as they have an executive office, that is staffed during posted hours and has signage. Google is not going to allow them to just update the address and perform a video verification, they must apply for reinstatement. You are wrong on all 3 counts.

1669740213912.png
 

seaniaaa

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You can list as a service area business if you do not have signage, you just have to hide the address and meet the requirements for the location, but this doesn't apply to virtual only locations. I'd bet the other business you're looking at has some kind of physical space at the locations referenced on GBP.

On the topic of reinstatement, we are often asked for signage photos, but they also often accept written official documentation if you ask.

1669740534619.jpg
 

keyserholiday

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Here is Google's official stance on pure SABs at virtual offices.
“After discussing with the policy team, we do not want pure Service Area Businesses to use virtual offices. Per the Google My Business guidelines, virtual offices are not allowed unless staffed during the business hours. Instead we suggest using a home address, setting the service area and hiding the address. If you have a hybrid business, meaning you have an office where people can walk in and talk to you, feel free to set the address as hybrid and then set the service area”.
 

seaniaaa

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Here is Google's official stance on pure SABs at virtual offices.
“After discussing with the policy team, we do not want pure Service Area Businesses to use virtual offices. Per the Google My Business guidelines, virtual offices are not allowed unless staffed during the business hours. Instead we suggest using a home address, setting the service area and hiding the address. If you have a hybrid business, meaning you have an office where people can walk in and talk to you, feel free to set the address as hybrid and then set the service area”.

Whoa, I think we got our wires crossed lol. I said virtual offices are a no go. You have to meet all the requirements in regards to physical space and staffing but signage isn't one of them though, with SABs
 

keyserholiday

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If you are referring to the Rentokil example then it looks like it is the home address of there technicians which means there won't be any signage and the address will need to change regularly with staff turnover. If you search Yell for rentokil in one of those metro areas, it's a home address. https://www.yell.com/biz/aberdeen-pest-control-and-environmental-services-aberdeen-8407734/

Maybe they are getting away with it because they are a multi national.

Any feedback on my other points?

Then all of their business profiles are violating the TOS. Only owners and managers are allowed to create a SAB at their home address and hide the address.
 
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and for 2) will all other business that use virtual offices in this way (of which there are millions) start getting disabled?

Almost any search I do shows violating businesses in the top 3. For example, decorators Glasgow

In some cases there are more than 1 profile for the same business repeating violations!
 

seaniaaa

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and for 2) will all other business that use virtual offices in this way (of which there are millions) start getting disabled?

Almost any search I do shows violating businesses in the top 3. For example, decorators Glasgow

In some cases there are more than 1 profile for the same business repeating violations!

While it is a co-working space, it also offers "bespoke branding" read: signage. It also mentions private offices. As long as you kept a permanent office there, staffed during business hours, and paid the likely fee for signage, you'd be well within Google's TOS. But they'd almost definitely require a video verification to prove that.

But really, brass tacks, spending time being mad that Google isn't evenly enforcing something is like yelling at the ocean. Sometimes people get away with it, sometimes they get caught right away, sometimes it's a decade later. You can try to flout the TOS if you want to, but you just have to be comfortable with the prospect that it will likely come back to bite you eventually. If you want to report people, you can use the redressal complaint form, though it rarely goes anywhere in my experience. My advice is to get them to invest in co-working locations where they can rent an individual office on a permanent basis and have signage.
 

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