Google My Business verification should not be so hard! For owners of a single business verification is a snap – complete your profile, ask for a letter to be mailed to you, confirm the PIN number Google sends to you. But if you are an owner of multiple businesses that you run out of separate offices, brace yourself for the run around from Google when you try to verify a second business.
Just this last week, a supervisor at Google My Business finally told me that Google would never verify my client’s second account. We had been working diligently since October 11th to provide all the information and documentation pictures the Google staff said it needed for review. I have to say I was nearly foaming from the mouth when I heard that final response!
It is unthinkable that Google has such vague standards when it comes to business verification; rules that are not in step with small businesses located in the USA. Additionally, add a language difficulty , as the staff appears to all be located in India, and the difficulty grows exponentially.
Ridiculousness at Its Best
I was told to supply a photo of both suite doors and signage on each but as there was a wall between the two, Google did not like the image. I could not knock down a wall in order to provide the photo.
I was told to take a picture of exterior signage for the business, but as the client is in an office condo park, no businesses have exterior signage unless they own a whole floor. Another fail!
I was told to take a picture of the reception desk with the large company sign behind the receptionist. Okay let’s get real, this was a small business, they have an office, but not a glitzy reception area and no need for an inside sign, they know who they are! A fail again.
Finally, I was told that the font on the second business sign did not match the font on the sign on the first business. Wow, that was an eye opener!
Then I was told that due to the history of requests and images sent as we tried to give Google what they wanted for over a two month period, that they did not believe the client ran two businesses. So, the history of what I had sent to Google based on the account reps requests totally worked against the client.
Nothing should be this difficult to resolve, but it’s Google! Understand that on Google My Business verifications, Google does run the world.
If you have been using Google Places or Google+, Google has a new property call Google My Business that you need to be looking at and migrating to.
First notice that even if you have been posting on Google+ pages you may not have a Google My Business site. For that matter if you’ve had a Google Places or Google Maps page, you may still need to re-verify to migrate that page to Google My Business.
Here’s what I’ve found out. I have a number of Google+ pages that I routinely post to as well as a personal Google+ page. I even had one Google Places page. When I set up my own Google My Business page, it was a different URL than any of them. Sigh… that means I had to start all over in building a fan base as any of my existing pages did not migrate into the new Google My Business page.
The Google My Business pages even look different. You’ll know you have one if over the cover image you see things like your office hours, your address, and website URL. You can see the cover image of my own in this post and view my site online.
Google is really pushing the Google My Business pages. My Google AdWords account rep even told me this past week that Google AdWords will be doing away with the ability to add business addresses manually in AdWords and using only the Google My Business page for locations in the near future. This means that it is time to get going on embracing this new Google product.
Personally I hate that the migration did not allow me to pick up one of my existing pages about my business that had a nice number of followers, but this is Google, it is their way all the way.
So, better get prepared for the future, as it is clear that Google will want to only deliver Google Maps and Google organic results pointing to a verified Google My Business page in the very near future.
I consider activity on Google+ important for business owners. The real SEO and search benefits are however not achieved by updating your Google+ Business page, but rather your Google+ personal page.
So, how can you connect with others to start building your Google+ empire and improved rankings for your company website in the organic listings?
Start by making sure the content you write is on target, on topic, and engaging. I use my Google+ page for business and not personal use. Consider doing the same for now.
Work to actively add users to circles and respond when someone adds you to one of their circles. Click +1 and leave comments on posts you find interesting. You’ve simply got to spend some time.
Consider starting a hangout. Well I am still thinking about that one, but have participated in several others and they can be fun. I have just not initiated one.
I personally find that for placement Google+ will be very important. As Google does not allow any automated or scheduled updates to be passed to your Google+ page, you will find the community of business people, legitimate, real and engaging.
Personally, I use Facebook for personal interaction on my locked down private page and Google+ as my face on social networks for business.
If you are using Google+ for your business outreach efforts, make sure to check out our Google+ writing services. They are very cost effective.
Quietly this past spring. Google rolled out a new program called Local Guides. Not only did Google create a program to make a community out of people already active in their social space, but is providing perks, mentoring, and recognition for those that participate by writing reviews.
The benefit to Google is that it gets huge numbers of local business-specific, high quality reviews written by real people who have actually used the service or bought from the business. By creating its own reviewer network, Google builds a community that it can manage to boost what it wants to enhance its own relevancy in the local space. And it can use the reviews the way it wants.
Here’s one example of how Google is benefiting. Google asked all Local Guides to Level Up in March. By encouraging Local Guides that are Google+ Community Followers and offering personal encouragement, badges when you hit a certain number of reviews, and special recognition within its private global as well as local communities, it has crowdsourced business review writing in an incredibly smart and savvy way. I for one, boosted my review numbers to hit 50 – leveling up.
If you write 50 reviews and you get a special badge that appears next to your own reviews. Write 200+ reviews and you may get invites to special events, and even an occasional Google branded gift. Plus you get bragging rights.
As a Local Guide myself, I actually like the program and am using it as a way to share my local knowledge as well as to connect with other writers in my own community. I happen to think that this was an incredibly smart move on Google’s part to enlist a grassroots movement building it’s own review network that it will be able to use for AdWords and for its own search results needs.
There is cache associated with being a Local Guide and for now I am having fun with the program. If you are over 18, you can apply to be a Local Guide too. Just visit this page.
Remember Local Guides are not hired or paid by Google, nor are they Google employees. They are just helping to write about what they know and letting Google have the rights to their work.
Here’s a comment I found on Yelp about one of the businesses I cross paths with that when I saw it I cringed for them:
“…Terrible. My 8 year old was like, “OMG MOM what happened?” Called her to adjust, try to fix, whatever, she was rude and condescending beyond words… AND WAY over priced. She had the *** to tell me how much it would cost to fix them! She said it was a touch up… Losing her eyesight and hand is NOT steady, her mind is gone too! NUTS! ”
Consumers love Yelp and business owners hate Yelp, but as a business owner, you’d better learn how to work the Yelp system to your advantage. Reviews about your business happen on Yelp whether you have an account or not. Deciding not to claim your page there does not mean that your poor reviews will not show up, rather you simply have no way to rebut them . This is the same for Google Local. Google will build a page for your business where a review about you will be housed whether you claim the page or not.
As this business I mentioned with the poor review, has tons of really great reviews, it is a shame that this one review on Yelp is getting serious exposure on Google that is sure to damage their sales.
Better by far is to embrace the system, claim these page (Yelp and Google Local) and drive happy customers there by pointing emails to these pages and asking customers to review you online. One terrible review will not hurt you when you have 10, 20, or 50 fabulous reviews. There will always be “trolls” out there and consumers know it, but when you have only one review and it is a really poor one and Google is choosing to show it by your website listing, it can damage your business terribly.
Need more help with your image online? Ask us about our Brand Booster program or savvy solutions to help build your online and website reviews.