Online Marketing 101 – Does Google Consider your business Legitimate?

Published in SEO on 31st December 2015

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In the world of online marketing you may be asking, how do I ensure that my website is benefitting from this trend towards local search? One of the ways Google achieves this local search objective is called Google Places. Google establishes where you physically are by inviting a business or website owner to register their location in Google Places. Simply search for the term ‘Google places for business’ and just follow the instructions to fill in the relevant information address details, then Google will kindly post you a letter using snail mail to that address with a PIN code. This is to confirm you are actually at that location and are not just making it up. Once you get your mail, you verify your location listing by typing in the PIN code, and then Google will accept your listing as legitimate.

You may now be thinking about how you can make money from this when you are physically only in one location. In the old days if you wanted to expand your business into new markets, you would go and open a new branch office or a franchise or store in a different city and hope for the best. This is what very large organisations have done for over a hundred years and it works very well, especially in the physical goods and services business. As an example, McDonalds needs to be close by or you won’t be eating it—plain and simple.

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In the new digital world, the landscape is very different. If your online marketing campaign or business can serve the entire city or state or country then you don’t have to open a network of branch offices to be successful. However, depending on your product or service you may not get any ranking in Google outside of your local area where you are physically located. This is a problem if you live in a two-horse town or believe your product needs to reach a bigger market.

For example, one of the online businesses I run is a service that people want to source locally but in reality it can be provided from anywhere in the country. For whatever reason for some products and services your customers may feel more comfortable buying the product from someone in the same city, although they never walk into the office or store or physically meet anyone; it’s a part of how we are wired as humans. I knew my website was doing well in my local area and I also know I am in a very small market geographically. I live in a city of about 800,000 people and my potential market across just two larger cities was five million people.

It didn’t take me too long to solve the problem and you have probably already figured out where this is heading, but I will walk you through it anyway. All I needed to do was open two more offices in those cities. However in my business model or online marketing strategy, I have a few rules to simplify matter -I don’t have staff and I don’t have financial commitments like commercial office leases. There is another option custom-built for this exact problem. It’s called a serviced office or shared office. In almost every city there are firms that charge a nominal amount of money, typically between $80 and $200 per month, for you to have a virtual address/office. What this means is that you can use the address (it’s normally a prime CBD location) with an actual office, with a receptionist and all the office trimmings. If, for whatever reason, you need to use the office, it has board rooms you can book, etc. But what this does, most importantly, is allows you to receive mail to that location (Google doesn’t do postal office or postal boxes). So once you have signed up for this location you can then have Google post you a letter, and bingo! You are in business in that location for a fraction of the cost of everyone else in that city. And don’t worry, this is an accepted practice that Google allows, many people do it because so many online business simply exist as a purely virtual entity so it would be ridiculous to expect these people to have physical offices. So having this shared office idea is a way to make it work so that you have a professional address that Google can reach you on without having you waste too much money and effort when you have better things to do.

Most websites go to great lengths to avoid this problem by not posting any address or phone number on them. How many times have you spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a phone number on a website? It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so important.

As you can imagine, once my market increased from 800,000 people to 5.8 million people, my sales went through the roof, and all for an additional $260 per month in my particular case. My suggestion is that before you go and organise 200 virtual offices around the country, start with one location first so you can test if this strategy will work for you. For more information feel free to visit our website: www.internetmarketingexperts.net.au