For years, there was a plethora of choices when it came to free voicemail systems, such as Voicememe, which I previously covered, or even K7 . Over time it seems as though each “free” service either dropped by the wayside one by one, or they converted over to a for-pay system online. There remains only one service that stands victorious and free over the rest – Google Voice.
How to Set Up Voicemail On Google Voice
Most people use Google Voice exclusively as a personal voicemail system. It’s an easy way to have a phone number that you don’t have to pay for – a real money-saver for college students that move around a lot and don’t like having to constantly switch phone numbers. You can set up Google Voice to either ring your own cell phone, or you can send calls to voicemail.
That voicemail feature is actually a lot more flexible than you might think, and it allows website and blog owners with the ability to integrate voicemail directly onto any website. The fastest way to do this is to click on the “Call Widgets” tab in Google Voice and click the link to create a new widget.
The beauty of this is that you can create multiple widgets with multiple call behaviors. Maybe one blog widget will automatically forward callers directly to voicemail, like the configuration above. If you want to, you could set up another widget that you might include in your email footer, and those callers would get routed directly to your cell phone. Once you’ve finished configuring the widget, Google Voice provides you with an Embed code that you can copy and paste into any web page.
The widget looks like the image below. Here, I’ve integrated the Google Voicemail system into my Contact page on one of my blogs. Whenever a user clicks on the link, they’ll need to enter in the phone number where Google Voice can call them offline, and then they can click “connect” to make the call.
Users also have the ability to select a text box to keep the number hidden if they’re concerned about their privacy. Once they click “Connect“, Google Voice will instantly call the number they entered. Once they pick up, Google Voice will then call you, or connect to your voicemail system, depending how you configured the widget to work.
Integrating Google Voice Into WordPress
You may be satisfied using the Google Voice embedded widget approach, which you can place on any page or sidebar that you like. But keep in mind that there’s an awesome WordPress Plugin called Google Voice CallMe that extends the functionality of the widget. You still need to set up a Google Voice widget as I described above, because you’ll need the embed code to paste into the plug-in configuration.
You’ll find the configuration area at the “CallMe” link under Settings in WordPress. Paste the embed code and save the settings. You can also tweak how the “Do Not Disturb” image looks if you like (add formatted text anywhere around the image).
When you add the new widget to your sidebar, you’ll see that you can configure “Do Not Disturb” times for each day of the week. What the widget does is it changes the Google Voice icon from green to a “Do Not Disturb” red icon during the times that you set, when you know that you’re going to be offline or away from your phone and unable to take calls.
This is an excellent way to set up Google Voice on your website or blog if you offer something like a computer tech or customer support service and your visitors need to access a live person. If you keep the embedded Google Voice widget configured to go directly to voicemail, then this plug-in gives you the ability to essentially “turn off” voicemail during certain hours.
This can be useful if you receive alerts every time you get a Google Voicemail and just don’t want to bother with those during “non-business” hours.
It’s unfortunate that most of the other free voicemail services have fallen by the wayside, but it’s fortunate that Google Voice not only survived, but that it also offers enough flexibility so that you can embed your own voicemail link pretty much anywhere online that you can paste the embed code.
Do you use Google Voicemail? Are there any creative ways you’ve put your embed code to good use? Share your insight in the comments section below.