Google is now offering a new verification method for businesses previously deemed unverifiable within Google My Business. This is great news for some businesses who have previously had difficulty achieving the all-important verified status the usual way – via snail mail, over the phone, or by the process of manual verification.
But a word of warning, this new verification method comes with its own set of hoops to jump through.
Why Should a Business Be Verified on Google?
First, a bit of background. If your business provides products or services to a specific location around the United States, it’s growing more important every day for your business to be searchable (and findable) on Google Maps. This is accomplished via a Google My Business listing, and while unverified businesses may appear on Google Maps, their information is not always accurate. In order for a business to control the quality of their information, the listing should be managed and maintained, especially as Google’s verification requirements shift.
The verification process has seen its share of changes over the years. In fact, what works one day may wind up being a deprecated process the next. You just never know. It used to be a simple matter of a phone call, and if that didn’t work, Google would send a postcard to your business with a verification pin that would need to be entered from within the business listing.
This is where the trouble started for some businesses.
The Neverending (Postcard) Story
While the process could be an easy one with no hiccups and very little inconvenience to a business owner, it could also be a complete nightmare. A postcard might take weeks to arrive if it arrives at all. Frustrated marketers and business owners have found themselves re-requesting postcards after waiting for the initial postcard to arrive, only to have that first postcard arrive with a now invalidated pin number.
Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts and regular prayers to the decision makers at Google, a business just couldn’t be verified. In many cases, these were the businesses who could not receive regular, old-fashioned snail mail to their place of business. They relied on a PO Box, which is not considered a valid business address for Google’s purposes.
Google Video Verifications
Google began testing video verifications sometime back in 2016, but we recently started to notice it showing up as a verification option for just about all of the small percentage of our customers who previously had trouble verifying their businesses due to an inability to receive postcards. Great news, right? It is. Being verified on Google is a big deal to most small businesses, but remember those hoops we mentioned? Read on.
How to Verify a Business with Google My Business Video Verification
It wouldn’t be a Google verification without a few hoops to jump through. Here are a few things you’ll need to do in order to get that previously unverifiable business a shiny new verified badge.
- Smartphone with Google Hangouts installed: You’ll need to use the Google Hangouts app to give a Google My Business representative a virtual tour of your business including the interior of your business where your products are displayed or your services performed.
- Documentation & Signage: Your Google My Business representative will need to see some documentation. You will need to show your business license, business cards, and signage around your business’ storefront.
- Vehicle and Tools of the Trade: If you are a business that provides a service, with no storefront or retail area, you will not only need to show your business license, but you will be asked to show the vehicle you use to perform your work, with any signage available, as well as the tools used to perform the work. You may need to start your vehicle, and show a valid registration and license plate for the vehicle as well.
- Answer Additional Questions: The Google Representative will ask you a series of general questions regarding your business activities. They may ask you to confirm your business information or ask for background information like when you were founded, what services you provide, or other details.
Why are Google Verifications So Complicated?
For a good reason. Google’s purpose is to provide the most accurate information to the people who keep their lights on – their customers. And just who are those customers? You, me, all of us who regularly use Google to find things, and occasionally click on an ad or two. Those occasional clicks on ads generate revenue for Google, and with over 3 billion searches happening every single day, that can add up to a large sum. Google wants to make sure that they are providing the best experience they possibly can to their users, and that means providing information that is accurate, up-to-date, and free of spam.
The New Norm? According to Google Representatives, Yes.
Our team of very dedicated (and yes, very pushy when it comes to getting a business verified) local listings specialists have received confirmation from Google My Business representatives that this is now the only way to have a business, service area or otherwise, manually verified when they are unable to receive mail to their business address. Gone are the days of exhausting all other options, and resorting to filling out forms and begging Google representatives to reconsider.
Only time will tell if this method proves to be more efficient and reliable in the long run. So far, we’re just happy to see a few more “verified” badges popping up on the Google My Business listings of our small business partners around the country who previously went without.
(We’re also pretty glad we don’t have to beg anymore.)