People ask me how to get into Google Places, when they’ve hit an unexpected roadblock. This article will explain what to expect after you submit your listing. There are a few potential points of failure, so if you weren’t listed correctly, one of these might be why.
When you submit your business for listing on Google Places, their verification team will review it, and call you within a few days to a couple of weeks. From my experience and what I have read online, the Google Places verification team is no more than three people.
The Phone Call
Here’s the part where many business owners screw the pooch.
Google will call you from a Mountain View number, usually (650) 253-2000. I cannot stress this enough, take the call. It is not spam, it is Google. They will call you during the business hours that you listed when you submitted your info, maybe fifteen earlier than opening or fifteen minutes after closing. You will not be able to return calls to this number. If you miss the call, they may not call again for weeks, if at all.
What they are expecting to hear, from your own mouth or the answering machine, is your business name. Do not answer the phone with “Yeah?” or “Hello?”. Use your business name.
Do not ruin your chance at getting listed with bigotry or undue suspicion. The Places verification team appears to be one man and one woman of Indian descent, and possibly one additional man who breathes heavily, but says nothing when leaving a voice-mail. I have read numerous posts from businesses who thought the call was from telemarketers or other spammers, and blew their Places listing by being rude and disrespectful. Any calls coming from Mountain View have a 95% chance of being from Google, anyway.
Everything Else You Need To Know
Before Google calls you, they will look at your address on Google Maps, both the satellite view and Street View. If they see a storefront on Street View, your listing should pass. If no street view is visible, you may or may not get a map marker on Google Maps. Life will be better for your business in the search engine results if you have the map listing. What they are looking for is a location that people can drive to.
If you are primarily an online business, you must be able to see clients and customers at your location in order to be placed on the map. Make sure you state this clearly.
P.O. Boxes or UPS Store style mailboxes are technically a no-no for being listed on Google Maps, but I do see it happen. Don’t fudge this detail, just in case some one from Google knows your city better than you think they do.
Before any of your listings go live, Google HQ will send you a postcard with a PIN to enter on your Places Dashboard. They send it to your business address to make sure everything is legit. If you have any major changes later, such as your business phone number or address, you will need to receive another postcard. Other services such as Bing and Foursquare also use the postcard PIN as a double verification measure.
Things to Follow Up On
You need to make sure you have four things at the end of this process, all separate, but connected. You will need the Google Places listing we’ve discussed here, a Google Local listing, a marker on Google Maps, and a Google Plus page for your business. While this seems like a lot of work to do, it helps solidify the signals about your business to the search engines. Local search rankings are about making many incremental gains, especially when you’re trying to move up, and these listings will help you in local search queries.