Hey kids! You too can get a Google My Business verification postcard for your service-area business listing sent to any address that isn’t a post office box, regardless of whether that address is anywhere near your mailing address.
Sound crazy? It gets even weirder. You might be able to verify that business, even if it doesn’t actually exist. That’s right, my friends in the small business and local search community, Google has potentially created a very interesting loophole for fake and fraudulent businesses to easily verify their GMB listing and create even more #craponthemap.
BizIQ’s Danni Petersen discovered the potential problem, and we’re doing further research to determine if there really are any issues with the latest adjustment to postcard Google verifications.
Google My Business has always had a mixed record when it comes to service-area businesses.
If you own or manage a service-area business, then you probably know it’s often been a colossal pain to verify your Google business account. At times it’s even seemed as if Google didn’t care about non-storefront businesses at all. Of course, that’s not true.
Google has continued to work hard to help all types of local businesses, but the challenge with service-area businesses has been balancing improvements to the verification process with improvements to fraud and spam prevention within Google business listings and on Google Maps.
Google allows you to edit your service area and your business address separately GMB account eligibility.
Last month, we reported on the fact that Google had changed the way they determine the service area of your business. They now allow you to define the area your business serves by city, county, state, country, or postal codes. In addition, they also allow you to edit your service area and your business location separately. But Danni recently discovered something else.
It looks like GMB Support will send your verification postcard to any address.
Right now, if you have a service-area business and you need to verify your Google business listing, Google has you enter the address where you would like to receive the postcard. It appears that you can enter any mailing address, as long as it’s not a PO Box, even if it doesn’t match the location of your business.
And while this is super convenient, and makes the verification process for businesses without a storefront much simpler, it could potentially make it easier for fraudulent businesses and spammers to verify fake or scam business listings.
BiziQ has launched a study to find out if Google My Business has any safeguards in place to prevent fraud.
Danni wonders if Google will still send a verification postcard to addresses outside of a business’ defined service area as well as how easy it might be to create fake service-area business listings.
We recently began researching what the implications of the change in postcard verifications are and will publish our findings as soon as the study is complete.
What do you think of Google reputation with service area businesses?
We want to know what you think. Leave your opinions any theories on this latest Google My Business development in the comments below. Have you had issues verifying your business? How did you resolve them?