Chris B

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hello everyone,


I have a client that has been using a toll free # for his main business and thats what he has on his existing Google Places listing. its also whats listed in several citation sites.


I know its best practice to have a local # but he has really branded himself with his toll free, including sites he has received awards where it lists his NAP where its his toll free.


So curious to know how much of a impediment this will be to ranking?

Thanks,

Chris
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Chris,

I've seen G+L's rank with 800# so I don't think it's necessarily the kiss of death, especially if the 800# has been pretty consistently used. And if it's already that way on his page, I would hesitate changing it. (I can't say for sure without seeing and researching.)

It's just best practice to use the local # as that's typically the one that's been used in local yellow pages and has been scraped in a bunch of directories.

So if I had a client that was mainly represented with their local # and said, hey I have a great idea, let's change the G+L to our 800# I would recommend against it. (I would always recommend against changing phone unless needed.) I would also point out to client that since you are only likely going to rank in your immediate city, customers don't need an 800# to call you.

But the fact they are heavily branding an 800# begs another Q.
Why? If they are a local business?

If by chance they are a national business or multi-location business and are using the same 800# in all their listings, then if any locations are regionally close having the same # on the listings increases the chances of merged listings.
 

Marie Ysais

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I have hands on experience with this. The company can rank and rank well with a 800 number. If the company is consistent and established as you said I would not worry about it! You would have more of a headache trying to change them to a local number if they are well established.
 

Phil Rozek

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My experience matches Linda?s and Marie?s.

The key thing is to make sure your client understands that it?s a crapshoot. Currently, using an 800 is a little iffy, if not necessarily (as Linda said) a ?kiss of death.? But Google constantly changes, so who knows what the future holds for small businesses (e.g. not Bank of America) that use 800 numbers.
 

Dave

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I too have seen records rank with 800 numbers. I haven't studied it though. Does it penalize a places ranking or not? can't say.

If competition is minimal it of course can work.

One reason smb's use it is that they tie in with tracking systems sold by different vendors.

Hey, you can attach tracking to your main numbers, folks. go directly to the vendors.
 

Chris B

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Thanks everyone, just the news I wanted to hear :) It would have been a major pain to correct all that. Hes been in business for a while and always had his 800 number and he's in NJ and also services NY area.

Which leads me to follow up question, he is a DJ and obviously he goes to the clients, Im assuming he qualifies for the .. hide the service location?

Thanks again,

Chris
 

Linda Buquet

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Yes if he only goes to clients. Does not have a commercial office staffed during business hours and especially if it's a home office, he really needs to hide or risks being deleted.
 

Chris B

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Thanks Linda, thats what i thought. He has a Regus office and i dont believe he ever meets anyone there, usually goes to clients but I will double check. Lets say he does meet a few clients every now and then at his office, but its not staffed during the day, should we still delete?
 

Linda Buquet

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Delete? You mean select do not show address?

Yes def with a Regus office. In fact even if hides, I believe if mappers do a sweep of that location they will sometimes nuke them all. Too many scammers use Regus like a virtual office and don't really do business there at all which would violate the guidelines. But it's a little gray to me because I do know legit small businesses that have full-time Regus offices too, due to the low cost and other features.
 

Dave

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Oh, Linda, if googlers or mappers for google are reading this...nuking all listings in a shared office environment is a HUGE mistake. There are plenty of tenants in these spaces that keep them for years. Also a lot of folks take them BECAUSE they can meet clients at these offices.

Hey if the googlers and the googler mappers can be both the GOD's of internet location but can't take the time to get it right...get someone else to oversee it...but don't screw every small business b/c its too time consuming to get it right.

That is the exercise of undue power and has miserable consequences for one and all.
 

Linda Buquet

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Ya I know Dave and agree.

Regus offices are gray. They are not outright prohibited or anything I don't believe. But they are so abused by spammers that I just think they are suspect in the eyes of some.

But here is an actual discussion where Vanessa talks about virtual offices in general in the case of an attorney. Many atty's use Regus or similar offices and get taken down:

Google Location taken down. Disputed. Google thinks I don't have some locations but I do!

Vanessa: "Offices must be permanent, customer-facing physical locations. Virtual offices do not meet the Google Places quality guidelines."

Vanessa: "All, to clarify: If you have a 'virtual office' that is staffed during designated hours (e.g. so a customer can drive up and receive your services there during those hours), then that's a legit use of Places. If you're just receiving mail there or only accept 'by appointment' that's not a legit use."

So it's not about the reality of the situation it's about how a Google MODERATOR may wrongly interpret it. Just like the hide your address or get deleted fiasco where businesses were deleted that should not have been because they were all painted with the same brush.

Soooo the problem is your client MAY have a totally legit full-time office but how is a Google moderator going to view it? Especially if that location is filled with other spammy listings? And the big question - will they call to verify or just whack the listing? They 'should' but sometimes don't, or the owner misses the call or the owner answers the question wrong or whatever.

So it just is risky and if you have clients in this situation REALLY need to coach them about how to identify a call from Google and how to answer the questions right.

For example, I have even seen lots of SMBs at the G forum that get a moderation call from Google,
think it's a telemarketer - so to blow them off say "you have the wrong #, this is not a business #".
Click/delete/listing gone.
 

Chris B

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Hey Linda.. my delete comment...oh brother:confused: me thinks I need to be careful on posting first thing without my caffeine kicking it, lol. i did mean hide. the good thing on this client is his main kws are showing organic and not a places listing.

and is it me, or does it "appear" google is at war with smb.
 

Dave

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Hey Linda: Excellent review of the many pro's and con's and difficulties with regard to business status in shared office facilities such as Regus.

I put the onus on Google to get it right via its methods to confirm. Google is the monster, big, powerful and in various businesses can make and break your economic well being. It would be a calamity when the "breaking" part is done b/c of little effort on behalf of google.

The danged calls to smb's should be BETTER in quality. In the forums you see how people are surprised, they don't understand, the callers might be hard to understand, etc.

Hey its my $0.02. I was in the commercial real estate field for decades. Dealt with companies such as Regus and their tenants. Many are valid. Now is the system also used for web spamming and G Local spamming....I suppose so...the spammers are everywhere.
 

Linda Buquet

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Google and SMBs are having major challenges, yes...

Actually not SMBs in general which includes, retailers, medical and other brick and mortar businesses.
It's SABs (Service area businesses) specifically that they have problems dealing with. Major problems...
 

Doug Caywood

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Agree mostly with Phil?s comments; ?It?s a crapshoot? and ?Google constantly changes?/. Nevertheless the ?best practice? consensus here appears to be:


  1. Use a phone number with an area code matching the location of your business.
  2. Consistency matters. If a non-local number has been used in citations and is present in most major directories (The Definitive List of Local Search Citations | LocalVisibilitySystem.com) then it may be wise to continue in the same manner. Changing may be more of a risk since it could appear inconsistent or manipulative.

The question still remains as to what depth the algorithm(s) extend. Do they stop at area code or do they seek additional information like the number being registered in the name of the listed business? Such a registration could increase the value of the number.

An 800 (toll-free) number may, or may not, be registered in the name of the business including a corresponding address. The same can be said of tracking numbers which may provide a local area code but might be registered in the provider?s (3rd party) name.
 

Fulty22

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I agree with all that has been said but I had not heard the part about the Regus office so Thanks Linda. It makes total sense that those would be an issue with Google+ local.
 
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Ya I know Dave and agree.

Regus offices are gray. They are not outright prohibited or anything I don't believe. But they are so abused by spammers that I just think they are suspect in the eyes of some.

But here is an actual discussion where Vanessa talks about virtual offices in general in the case of an attorney. Many atty's use Regus or similar offices and get taken down:

Google Location taken down. Disputed. Google thinks I don't have some locations but I do!

Vanessa: "Offices must be permanent, customer-facing physical locations. Virtual offices do not meet the Google Places quality guidelines."

Vanessa: "All, to clarify: If you have a 'virtual office' that is staffed during designated hours (e.g. so a customer can drive up and receive your services there during those hours), then that's a legit use of Places. If you're just receiving mail there or only accept 'by appointment' that's not a legit use."

So it's not about the reality of the situation it's about how a Google MODERATOR may wrongly interpret it. Just like the hide your address or get deleted fiasco where businesses were deleted that should not have been because they were all painted with the same brush.

Soooo the problem is your client MAY have a totally legit full-time office but how is a Google moderator going to view it? Especially if that location is filled with other spammy listings? And the big question - will they call to verify or just whack the listing? They 'should' but sometimes don't, or the owner misses the call or the owner answers the question wrong or whatever.

So it just is risky and if you have clients in this situation REALLY need to coach them about how to identify a call from Google and how to answer the questions right.

For example, I have even seen lots of SMBs at the G forum that get a moderation call from Google,
think it's a telemarketer - so to blow them off say "you have the wrong #, this is not a business #".
Click/delete/listing gone.
Regus locations are likely non-permitted locations for most businesses as they aren't physical business locations where business is conducted. They definately would have to be a SAB if they didn't rent a desk and or have a perminant presence at the Regus location. MapMaker doesn't allow "meeting places" see Permitted Businesses and Points of Interest - Map Maker Help.

The issue with SAB and Regus locations is going to be trickier and that's a Google issue as they would be the one to delete the feature.
 
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