Do virtual offices help your SEO efforts? Short answer, yes.
There are a lot of businesses in today’s world that have figured out that a good SEO strategy can pull in heavy benefits for their bottom line in the long run. By nature, all SEO efforts are in a way very cumulative, and most people get the difference between paid search and search engine optimization. So while a paid ad strategy gives instant and short term results (the results keep going as long as you are paying), search engine optimization is different in that you are always building upon it for a steady uptick in the long run. Things you do today will add to the tsunami wave that will grow two or three months from now and wash away your competition.
One proven strategy for businesses that want to rank better in a territory they don’t have presence in currently, or would like to expand and test the waters in another territory, is to set up a virtual office. This strategy has been successfully used by various professionals like lawyers, plumbers, consultants, and many others that could use extra local presence. Virtual offices are an affordable and practical solution when you are looking for a cheap way to boost your SEO performance in local search results. And with mobile searches growing, which are by nature usually local centric, you want to get this going as soon as possible to beat the other companies who will catch on later.
Just as with all search engine optimization, this is a strategy that needs to be executed efficiently and logically for it to give you the return you are looking for. As a search engine optimization specialist, I would like to give you some tips in order to start you off on the right path for getting that desired ranking.
Below I outline the things you need to do to make sure that it benefits you and your company or client. The main ideas are to look at the location you want to rank in, see current competition and start testing. Let us begin with the first strategy.
Are there any other businesses in your category at that address?
The main idea of using a virtual office with SEO is to have a location that will be unique to your business as much as possible. You want the office to be a second, third or tenth location that customers can find you at when looking online and you would preferably be the only business at that location. First step would be to look at the locations available. Davinci has over a thousand locations worldwide and in major cities; you can see all of our virtual office locations here.
When you find the location you are looking for, go to google.com/maps and zoom in over the city you are looking to rank in, possibly even the neighborhood. When you are in the city you are looking to get a virtual office in, do a search for your main keyword and see what comes up for competition. Pay attention to these competing businesses locations, especially the ones in the area you are looking to get your chosen virtual office in.
While you don’t want it to be crowded, if it is in an area where your customers are in, then having two to three competitors in the immediate area is still fine – you’ll just have to outrank them with other signals (reviews, categories and tags). If there are more than ten competing businesses on the same block, then the area might be too saturated, and you are late to the party. If you don’t think you can beat any that are dragging their feet with SEO, then my honest opinion is to look at another location.
Can you serve the customers in that area?
Second piece you should look at when choosing a virtual office location, is whether or not you can serve the customers in that geo. Everyone wants to rank everywhere, I’ve worked at SEO agencies where we had clients that tasked us with this, but unless it makes sense for you to, it will be a long uphill battle. If you can’t reasonably fulfill the needs of the customers in the area you want to rank in, it’s important to ask yourself if you want those customers in the first place.
The magic of a virtual office is that it gives you a mailing address wherever you want, but also know that customers will expect you to deliver with the same speed they would get from other businesses in that area. Now, the one thing that helps you with a Davinci Virtual Office, is that you are able to also schedule meetings in almost all of the virtual offices we have listed, as well as receive mail and packages. The rest will be up to you to figure out how fast you can get things moving, if speed is an issue in your industry.
Does the geo location in that city make sense?
You also need to ask yourself if the geographical location where the office is in will make sense for you to optimize for. Local ranking depends on the proximity you are in to the city of the population you are looking to target. It should be easier for you to rank if you have a virtual office in the same city you are looking to rank vs. three cities over.
Personally, I’ve seen businesses in competitive niches (plumbing) rank in the Salt Lake City local pack, and the business is 20-25 miles in a different city, but these results are not typical. It will all depend on your SEO knowledge, competition and other optimization strategies. When picking your location from Davinci, we will show offices that are within your chosen cities borders, but we also offer a map view so you get a better sense of where our different offices are map-wise.
Do you have a local phone number?
A local presence is not complete without having a local phone number. This might be easier to accomplish for businesses that are looking to use a virtual office for search engine optimization efforts in their home city, but if you are in a different state, or even a different area code, you should consider getting a number local to that location. Not only will it boost the trust consumers have in dialing it, seeing as it is a phone number in their area, but it will further send “local” signals to the search engines you are looking to accept you.
If you are already a local businesses, you should definitely get a second phone number, instead of using one number for all locations. Using the same number is somewhat acceptable, but we are looking to create a full-on separate location, and having a number unique to each office, helps show that the locations are fully different.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Davinci offers live virtual receptionist service, which is a great complimentary solution if you have one or even ten virtual locations. You get one free phone number and can get additional phone numbers for pretty cheap; and best of all is they can be toll free or local, but in this case you would want local. Plus, now you no longer have to answer multiple phone lines from all the potential customers that will be calling, just let us do it.
Use the address on your website
A big piece of your SEO strategy for the virtual office that takes little effort, but offers huge rewards, is using the address on your website. You want this address to be associated with your business and to get a boost from whatever your websites ranking power is, so use the new address and mark it up with the correct schema markup for locations.
Using the address on your website just sends further signals to search engines that you take this location seriously, that it is a location associated with your business and that it should be given the same serious consideration as your website.
Make sure to register your location with Google Local and get the postcard to verify your location
I’m using Google My Business (also known as Google Local) as one example, but you should also be using the equivalent Bing Places and maybe even consider the paid Yahoo Local Listings to maximize your use of the virtual office location across the web. The good thing with Davinci virtual offices is that you get your mail and packages forwarded, so when you get your card mailed to you by Google or any other listing directory, you will get that card forwarded to you. Most locations also offer scanning and forwarding through email, getting you your letters and documents even quicker.
When you register your business with the local database these providers have, you will get more options when it comes to optimizing for the categories and keywords you would like to rank for. Other benefits that come with registering might include – being able to update your information, adding a website associated with the business, getting call analytics, hours of operation, times of day people are searching for your location and just being listed there. This is another pretty important step to getting your local SEO optimized the right way.
Optimize the location for relevant keywords, but don’t go overboard and spam
Last little bit of advice when you set up a virtual office location for your SEO, is to not go overboard with optimization. If you are taking the location seriously, then use it kindly by being reasonable with categories, topics and keywords that you are trying to rank for in that geo. I would suggest starting off a little less aggressive on your new location so you can gauge what is working and what isn’t. Whatever you learn at the virtual location, you can definitely apply to your other location(s).
So there you have, some strategies to get you going with your coverage area expansion using virtual offices. SEO is not easy, and everything I’ve mentioned in this article should all be considered as tips from a practicing professional, but you won’t get anywhere without trying. If you have any questions, post them in the comments. If you have any virtual office questions, call us or start a chat session right now to connect with a Davinci associate.