Google Places HelpOh that’s right, in my April 26th post for Google Places consultants, I promised more tips, huh? 😉

These Google Places Help tips will make life easier for business owners that want to try to optimize Place pages themselves, as well as consultants. (Consultants may want to skip the basics you should already know in #1 – 3 and jump down to the meat in #4, 5 & 6 – the real time savers!)

The Google forum is positively riddled with posts from people having Google Places verification problems. I can’t hope to help everyone, but some of the tips below can possibly eliminate or bypass some of the verification problems that often come up.

1) DO NOT EDIT WHILE CLAIMING – When you claim a Place page the 1st option that comes up on the next Google screen is: “Edit my business information. You may update your business name, contact information, payment types, hours and categories.”

Stupid Google creates all kinds of problems with this. Do not make any edits yet. Only verify. If you make edits in the same session Google will often (or always?) make a duplicate listing. Hence so many in the forum saying “I edited my Place page but none of the new info is showing.” The edits are showing up, just in a new duplicate Google created, without letting you know. Just to drive you crazy I think. That duplicate will typically merge in about a month, but can cause lots of confusion in the meantime.

2) WHEN WILL AN EDIT TRIGGER A VERIFICATION? Typically verification is required when you edit NAP (Name, Address, Phone). Note: Verification can sometimes be avoided when doing name or address edits using my tips in #5.

3) WHY DOESN’T GOOGLE OFFER PHONE VERIFICATION NOW? Google used to offer a choice of phone or snail mail verification. In order to try to cut down on Places spam, they recently announced that phone verification will only be offered for listings Google has lots of trust in. So new listings and problem listings will definitely require mail verification. Occasionally on a well established listing where the business has been around for years and has lots of citations, Google will offer phone verification, but it’s rare.

4) POSTCARD VERIFICATION TIPS – WARNING staff will often throw away the verification mail. It can take 2 weeks to get the postcard. If they toss it by accident and you need to request a new one, you can lose an entire month.

When you complete the postcard verification step in Google it will show an image of what the postcard will look like. MAKE A COPY and EMAIL IT TO STAFF. Tell them “this is VERY important mail from Google. It may just look like junk mail, but it’s important. Please watch for it and get it to me.”

NOTE FOR CONSULTANTS: I have a whole template system I give away in my Advanced Places training that includes all the wording and everything. But here are a couple important tips that will save you lots of time. Tip #1) There is an Attention: field. BE SURE TO USE IT. I use something catchy that will get attention and then reference it in the email heads-up I send. Assuming most mail goes to the client’s name – example: Joe Smith DDS I’ll do something like Attn: JOE Important from Google.

Tip #2) If there are several dupes or problems where you may need multiple verifications, add a code so you know which verification goes with which listing. For some reason G does not allow numbers in the Attn field so it can take up precious characters that are already limited. So I may put something like this. Attn: DR JOE Google DupeTwo. This way when you have a lot of verifications flying around for a complicated case, you can tell which verification goes with which listing.

Then in my email warning about the verification mail and it’s importance I’ll included a copy of the image from Google that shows what the envelope will look like, but also type out in big red letters.

IMPORTANT: Have staff watch for mail from Google that says Attn: DR JOE Google DupeTwo.

5) START RANKING EVEN WHILE WAITING FOR VERIFICATION (Great tip for consultants who do this all the time) – When you optimize a listing, that has already been claimed – if it needs any NAP (Name, Address, Phone) changes that could trigger a verification, don’t edit NAP until everything else is finished. Change the cats, update the description, add your images, video and additional details and save (submit). Most of those changes will show up on the Place page right away. THEN go back and make your NAP edits if needed. If you edit everything in the same session then all your edits can be on hold while you wait 2 weeks for the verification. If you use my 2 step save process above, they can start ranking even while verification is pending.

6) BYPASSING NAP EDIT VERIFICATION – FOR CONSULTANTS This is a little hard to explain. NOTE: this only works for minor edits to name and/or address. Does not work for phone # changes (in my experience so far – subject to change based on Google whims).

Almost all my clients need Name and Address changes due to a bad Google scrape, fractured upstream data that will negatively affect citations and reviews or the client entering their info in the wrong format.

Example new client comes to me with the following Places name & address:
ABC Dental: Dr Smith John – 2080 Rainbow DR.#206 City, ST 80024-5555
(Dr. name scraped from yellow pages so it’s backward. No middle initial. Dr. instead of DDS. Address with abbreviations + Zip 4. I always delete the “4”)

After discussing correct legal name with client and doing NAP research I determine the best possible NAP combination is: ABC Dental: John L. Smith DDS – 2080 Rainbow Drive Suite 206 City, ST 80024

Instead of cutting and pasting the correct NAP (which I think Google must see as a total name or address) change do this. Very carefully and slowly, one character at a time, delete and add one letter or number at a time, leaving as much as you can of what’s there. So in the name, I would delete D then R one char at a time. Type John L one char at a time. Leave Smith. Add DDS. Then save. Then go back and do the same thing with the address.

I always create a Word doc of the optimized Place page details to have the client review and approve before I optimize. Then NORMALLY I cut and paste everything from a word doc to Place page, to avoid typos. However if you delete the entire business name string of ABC Dental: Dr Smith John and then cut and paste ABC Dental Service: John L. Smith DDS, then I think it may look like a complete name change to the algo. But if you just add one letter at a time and delete one letter, to make minor corrections you can usually get by without a verification.

I have not had to do a verification for ages since I’ve been using this method. I will admit, that it’s possible it’s not the method I use, but the % of NAP change that triggers the verification. But I do changes like the above all the time without having to verify, so it’s worth a try.

Also like I said this trick does not appear to work on phone #s. I tried it on a phone number that just needed one digit changed and it still forced a postcard verification.

Hope these Google Places Verification tips help. Holler if you have questions or if anything wasn’t clear. Also if you have any verification tips to share, please do!

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