December 5, 2011

Google Places: Verification Methods and Pitfalls

By | Category Google |

Currently, Google Places offers three methods of business verification: phone, postcard, and bulk import. Often, the phone and postcard will be lumped into one larger group called “Manual Verification,” because the verification process includes obtaining and inputting a unique PIN for each location that needs to be verified.

In this first entry on Google Places verification, we’ll walk through what to expect from the Phone Verification process and what factors should be considered prior to going this route.

Phone Verification

In order to verify via phone, you’ll need to first set up your business listing in Google Places. Create an account at Google Places and follow the step-by-step process to claim a live listing or create a brand new listing.

Once you have submitted all of your business information, Google will ask you to validate your listing by choosing to verify via phone or postcard. (Note: Bulk verification users have a different process for entering and verifying information).

Phone verification is the fastest and most efficient method of verifying a small number of Google Places listings.

Once you select “Verify by Phone”, Google’s automated phone system will place a call to your business number. When the call is answered, an automated voice will provide you with a 5-digit PIN verification, repeat the number a second time, and then the call will end

Enter the 5 digit number in your Google Places account, next to the listing, and your listing will be active, with updated information beginning to show up on the live Google Places listing within the next few hours.

Potential Issues when Verifying by Phone

  • Google will only verify by phone if the phone information you input into the account is the same as the number Google has on record. This can be checked by looking at the phone number on the live listing.
  • Once verified by phone, Google will not allow you to change the phone number without re-verifying by postcard. For most businesses, this isn’t an issue, but sometimes Google picks up the wrong information. For example, what if the number Google has on file is the direct line for (or “connects to”) Jim in accounting? If you verify through Jim’s number, that is the only number Google will accept, without re-verification. In these instances, it’s easiest to verify by postcard, since you’ll end up needing to anyway.
  • If you have an automated phone system, Google will provide the PIN when your system picks up. If possible, briefly disable your system so that you can receive the call. Otherwise, verify via postcard.

Reasons to Choose Phone Verification

  • It’s fast and easy, assuming the phone number Google has on record is correct and won’t need to be changed.
  • If you’re verifying multiple locations, you have the resources to work with each location to verify their address by phone.

In upcoming entries, I’ll walk through what to expect from phone and bulk verification processes, as well as things to consider when deciding between bulk and manual verification.

4 Responses to “Google Places: Verification Methods and Pitfalls”

Ralph ThrowerDecember 5th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Good afternoon Steve,
I always seem to get interrupted during most phone verifications. It would be nice if we were allowed to list our cellphone as a second line. Then they could just text me the five digit code. Thanks
Ralph Thrower

NyagoslavDecember 22nd, 2011 at 9:16 am

Steve, good article, but the main problem is that Google very rarely provides the opportunity to verify by phone. As you said, this happens only if Google has the phone into their system already. And what about if the phone is still not in the system? Do you have some workarounds?

SteveJanuary 29th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

@Ralph – There are a lot of things I think Google could do to make the verification process easier. Though I’d counter on the text messaging approach, simply because if we were able to have Google use another number, not currently in their system, there’d be nothing to stop spammers from claiming your listing away from you and redirecting traffic to their sites.

@Naygoslav – We run into this one a lot. The only way we found to get around this is to use another of the verification processes – either verifying by postcard or bulk (if you have 10+ locations). When you verify through a different approach, you’ll be able to update the phone number. I’d like to test updating the phone number through a community update and then verifying through that number once the live listing is updated. That said, I suspect Google has some trigger in place that says, “This number needs to be on the listing for x number of months before it can be a legitimate number for verification,” simply to give the business owner enough time to catch the change; otherwise spammers or competitors could capture listings that weren’t their’s through this method.

cherylJune 7th, 2012 at 9:13 am

when i set up a business page, i said i wanted verification by mail. unfortunetly, the post office is across the street and said they do not deliver mail to my building. (this is a building with other businesses in it too.)
do i have to delete my page and start all over just to get verification by phone? how do i talk to an actual person to fix this?

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