Google Place Listings are a critical piece of the online marketing equation for local business. Google recently made some critical changes to the way businesses can verify and update their Google+ Business Listing, and you should know what they are.
Many businesses received an email on this subject, and many took it for spam. However, it was, in fact, from Google. Jade Wang, Google Business Community Manager, explains below:
“We are making some changes to Google Places for Business and Google Maps so we can continue providing people with the best experience when they’re looking for local businesses. As part of this process, we’re asking business owners to review and confirm some of the information in their Google Places accounts so we can keep showing it to Google users. We know this will be a few extra steps for merchants, and we apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your time.
We have sent business owners affected by these changes an email entitled ‘Action Required: You have 3 weeks to save your Google Places Listing.’
If you received this email, don’t worry. You simply need to login to Places for Business, review your business information, update it if necessary, and click Submit.”
Google has also changed the procedure for the setup of new businesses. When a business owner first creates or Google+ local page, they are required to verify their listing using PIN verification. Google is now allowing a business owner to see their Google+ listing features prior to verification. The PIN verification will still be required before the listing will show up in search results, but the features can be viewed by the listing creator prior to the listing going live.
Verification of the listing will be with a PIN received either via a postcard and sent to the business address or via phone at your business number. If the listing has been verified by someone else or you no longer have access to the listing, you may simply request that Google do the verification process again. If the listing has been created previously, you’ll still need to use the PIN verification in order to update and take admin control.
Jade Wang also spoke on the verification, and possible re-verification, process:
“If you’re creating a listing in the new Places for Business dashboard, now you won’t have to wait to complete PIN verification before you can see the +page, for most businesses. Just follow the link from your dashboard to see the new page. You will be able to use Google+ social features on this unverified page, but please note — you still need to complete PIN verification before the page will start showing up in Google Maps and across other Google properties.
If you’ve got an unverified local Google+ page (made using Google+ in the local business/place category), then we still encourage you to PIN verify this page so that it can start appearing in Google Maps and across other Google properties.
If you’re creating a local Google+ page (using Google+ selecting the local business/place category) for a business that we think is already in Google Maps, then you may need to go through both PIN verification and our admin request flow before you can manage the page.”
Bottom Line: Google+ Local Listings can be a bureaucratic nightmare to manage, but they remain a critical piece of local SEO for most small and medium-sized companies. Each business owner should be careful to maintain control over all of their local listings to keep information current and continue to comply with changing Google standards.