Google Voice is a virtual phone service that offers a free local telephone number to use on a mobile or landline device for business calls. Setting up a Google Voice number is easy and takes just a few steps, including registering for the service, choosing your number, and deploying.
Google Voice is powerful, but lacks advanced features like a toll-free number or software integrations. If you are looking for a more powerful virtual phone option, consider Grasshopper. The service offers multiple extensions per number, so you can share your business phone with your team members. You can also adopt a toll-free phone number for a more professional presence. Click the link below to start your seven-day free trial.
You’ll have to do the following to get a Google Voice number:
1. Sign Up for a Google Account
All Google Voice numbers are attached to a Google account. If you don’t already have login credentials for services like Gmail, YouTube, or Google Docs, then you will have to create a Google Account. Fortunately, personal accounts are completely free of charge. Simply go to the company’s sign-up page and enter some basic information about yourself to make an account.
You can also sign up for the G Suite platform, which is Google’s paid business suite of mail, productivity, and communication tools for established small businesses. Pricing packages with Google Voice start at around $10 per month. With that said, the personal account should be more than enough to meet the needs of solopreneurs and freelancers who just want a dedicated business phone number and nothing more.
2. Sign In & Read the Terms & Conditions
Once you have created your Google account, you are ready to continue the Google Voice sign up process. Simply go to voice.google.com and sign in with your account (if you didn’t close your web browser, you may already be signed in with your new Google account). Enter your password and click “Next” to continue.
You will have to read through and accept Google Voice’s Terms of Service. This is mostly standard legal copy. However, Google specifically bans phone practices like using your Google Voice number to send automated solicitation calls. You are also prohibited from selling any data from your Google Voice activity. Violators are subject to losing their access to Google Voice. This is something to keep in mind for those who want to do phone-based marketing.
Once you have agreed to the terms of service, you are all set to start the Google Voice sign-up process. You should be taken to the next screen where you can finally choose your area code, pick a number, and connect it to your mobile, landline, and desktop devices.
3. Enter Your Local Area Code
After you agree to the Terms of Service, Google Voice will ask you to enter a three-digit local area code or city. If you have location services enabled on your computer, it will suggest taking on the area code and three-digit line prefix of nearby cities. For example, Google Voice suggested that I take a number from cities near me in Northern New Jersey. Unlike paid voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services like Grasshopper, you cannot choose a toll-free telephone number.
Most users will want a number that reflects their actual location. However, the fact that Google Voice lets you choose any area code in the U.S. has an interesting advantage. If you work in one area and do business in another, you can have a local number that relates to customers in that secondary location. For example, if you lived in North Jersey but had clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania, you choose the 570 area code and use that for your business number.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can only choose a local number for your city if they are available. For instance, all the phone numbers using Manhattan’s primary area code of 212 are taken up, and Google Voice does not offer them. You would have to settle for the newer 917 area code or a number from one of New York City’s outer boroughs. However, this shouldn’t be a problem for less populated areas.
4. Choose a Phone Number & Click “Verify”
Choose your area code or city, and Google will provide you with a list of available numbers for that prefix. Click the “Show More” button to reveal even more choices. Pick a number that you like and you think would be memorable for your customers and associates. For instance, I chose a number for Jersey City, New Jersey.
Once you’ve found a number that you like, click the “Select” button next to that number. Google Voice will then claim that number for you, and it is then yours to keep indefinitely. Once this step is complete, you officially have a business phone number. Next, you will have to verify your existing phone number to get started using Google Voice.
5. Link Your Existing Phone Number
Because it is a virtual number, every Google Voice number needs to be linked to an existing phone number. It cannot provide you with your own traditional number like a mobile carrier or VoIP provider. This can either be a mobile number or a landline.
Once you’ve entered a phone number, there are two ways to connect the service. On a mobile phone, you will receive a text message with a unique six-digit code to enter into your browser window. Otherwise, you can have Google call your landline and tell you the code over the phone. Once you’ve entered your code, simply click the “Verify” button, and you are ready to start using Google Voice on your desktop or landline device.
6. Download the Google Voice Mobile App
If you want to use your Google Voice number on your smartphone, then you will have to download the Google Voice app on your iOS or Android device. Simply go to the App Store or Google Play app and search for “Google Voice.”
Once the app is downloaded, open it up. You will be asked to sign in with your Google account. When you are logged in, the setup process will be complete. You will be ready to start calling and texting with your Google Voice number immediately.
Google Voice Pricing
Google Voice offers free calling to almost the entirety of the U.S. and Canada. You only have to pay when calling select U.S. and international locations. Paid rates start at one cent per minute. It’s able to do this because it is one of the largest tech companies on earth, with an annual revenue of more than $138 billion in 2018. However, while the call is free, Google may also collect data on call activity and use that information to target ads.
How Google Voice Works
Virtual phone systems allow you to add a business number to an existing phone line, whether that is an existing landline or mobile phone. They keep your work number separate from personal calls by allowing you to use two phone numbers on a single device. Advanced features usually include voicemail, call routing, call blocking, and text messaging.
These virtual numbers are programmed to forward incoming calls to a preset telephone number. In the case of Google Voice, the number is forwarded to the landline or mobile number that you entered when you signed up for the service. They can help you separate business and personal calls without requiring you to buy a new handset. It can also help you seem more professional if you have a dedicated phone number for your organization.
Google Voice Features
Google Voice is a basic business phone system that includes a small set of very basic features like call blocking, forwarding, and voicemail. Calls are essentially forwarded from your existing mobile or landline number, but your Google Voice number is what the other party calls and sees on their caller ID. Unlike paid VoIP services like Nextiva, Google Voice does not offer advanced features like a toll-free number or integrations with outside business software.
Google Voice’s features include:
Google Voice allows you to choose local numbers from virtually every area code in the United States. However, it lacks the ability to choose a toll-free number, so you will never have a nationwide business presence. In fact, it may hurt your business image to have a phone number that only represents a specific area. A toll-free 1-800 number can make your organization look more established.
Google Voice offers features like call blocking and screening. You can configure personalized voicemail greetings for recognized callers and search for voicemail contents. Making calls works in an identical fashion to doing so on your smartphone’s default phone app.
Google Voice offers calling to most of the U.S. and Canada for free. International rates start at one cent per minute. As low as this is, this is not ideal for companies with an overseas business presence that need to make frequent calls to other countries. If this is important to you, you may want to consider a paid service like 8×8, which offers unlimited calling to more than 40 different countries.
Google Voice can be used on a mobile phone, a tablet, a desktop app, or even a landline phone. This makes it a great choice for users who want to use their work number on all of their devices. It is also ideal for users that travel frequently and want to take their business number wherever they go.
Google Voice allows you to send unlimited text messages to most of the U.S. and Canada for free. The texting module works in an identical fashion to how you view and send messages on your phone’s default texting app. You can even set up group messages for team discussions.
Google Voice provides customers with an online knowledge base and user manuals. The company also provides a Google Voice forum to discuss issues as well as a Google Product Experts Program where users can ask Google’s top contributors and customers a question.
“Google Voice has been essential in my small business. Instead of employees having to carry two phones, they have a Google Voice business number for free. Google Voice also transcribes voicemails, which is helpful on the go.”
– David Pike, Founder, The New York Trolley Company
Alternatives to Getting a Google Voice Number
Google Voice is a fantastic solution because it is free, easy to use, and includes all of the features you need to make calls and send text messages. However, it is lacking advanced features like a toll-free business phone number, integrations, and unlimited international calling found in paid virtual phone services. If you find that Google Voice is too simplistic for your needs, then we recommend looking at these alternatives.
Google Voice Alternatives include:
Grasshopper, which starts at $26 per month, is a virtual phone service alternative that provides you with either a local or toll-free 1-800 number for your business. It gives you the ability to switch between a personal and business phone without the need for a second device, while also helping to promote a more professional image for your company with features like call menus and software integrations. Grasshopper also offers a seven-day free trial.
8×8 is a VoIP phone system that provides features like unlimited calling, an auto-attendant, and call recording with a starting price of $25 per user, per month. However, what sets the platform apart is the ability to make unlimited calls to anywhere from 14 to 42 countries depending on the package. It’s an ideal option for companies with overseas business operations. Click the link below to learn more.
Phone.com, which starts at $12.99 per month, is a virtual phone service that offers bundles of calling minutes with features like call conferencing and an automated phone attendant. The company offers the choice to adopt a vanity number (like 1-800-FLOWERS) so that your organization has a memorable phone presence. The service comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I port an existing number to Google Voice?
Yes. When you sign up with the service, you can go into the settings menu and select “Phones.” Click “Change/Port” and go through the setup process of porting your number. You will be charged a $20 fee for porting most numbers from major mobile service providers.
Can I take my Google Voice number with me to a new service?
Yes. Simply go to the Google Voice unlock page and click “Unlock my number” to begin the outgoing porting process. Porting your phone to another system costs $3.
Can a virtual phone call a landline phone & vice versa?
Yes. If you dial a traditional landline phone with your Google Voice number, the other party can simply pick up the phone and answer the call as if another landline was calling them. Virtual phones can call mobile phones and other internet-based phone systems with the same ease.
Is a local number the type of phone number for a small business?
If you are a smaller operation that only does business within your local region, then you’ll probably find a phone number with your local area code compatible with your needs. However, if you do business across the country or internationally, then you may want to consider a 1-800 or vanity number. For more information, check out our guide to business phone numbers.
Google Voice is a great virtual phone service for solo workers, freelancers, or very small teams that are looking for a free business phone number that can go wherever they do. The service is incredibly easy to set up and use, and the fact that it offers unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada makes it highly useful.
However, if you are looking for an upgrade from Google Voice, then we suggest checking out Grasshopper. The service offers a toll-free number, voicemail-to-email transcription, and the ability to automatically greet your callers with a voice menu. Click the link below to start your seven-day free trial.