Google My Business Locations is Google's dashboard for brands with 10 or more locations. Those with more than 10 but less than 25 or so locations may still wish to manage them via Google My Business -- especially if they have all already been verified -- because it provides you with a little more flexibility than the bulk dashboard.
However, the more locations you have, the more you'll appreciate using Google My Business Locations (GMBL) for your business listing management at Google. It enables you to get all of your physical locations verified at one time, which saves an enormous amount of time and coordination with people stationed at the locations. Verification usually takes about a week for those accounts using a domain-associated email address. Without that, expect it to take longer and to require an extra step or two.
Many service area businesses (SABs) cannot take advantage of this handy feature of GMBL, though, because of the large percentage of SABs that have faked locations over the years. Google says, "Businesses that operate in a service area—plumbers, for example—may bulk verify only if their locations are also customer-facing during regular hours. These businesses will not be able to set service areas in the bulk management tool. Service area businesses without customer-facing locations should use the code verification system to verify their locations individually."
At Google My Business Locations, you provide all of your location data to Google via a formatted spreadsheet, which is downloaded from the dashboard. Before doing this, however, you should check to make sure that you have all of the correct information for every single one of your locations all in one place. It's critical to read the documentation provided with the GMBL spreadsheet and strictly comply with the directions in every detail, including populating all of the required fields. This is a time-consuming job for a detail-oriented person who is willing and able to compulsively check every little thing and get it right. Read these tips before getting started.
Upon uploading the spreadsheet you've filled out, you'll immediately get messages if something needs to be corrected. Locations showing errors will not go live until they're corrected, so bookmark this page for easy reference.
It's now possible to group locations together in ways that make managing hundreds or thousands of locations easier. Each account manager, for example, can have his/her own group of locations to take care of or problem listings can be placed into a group that gets more attention than locations that are doing well.
Just as in Google Analytics, account management roles can be assigned to various users. The image below shows some of the options for multiple users in an account.
Many large organizations have learned that some things are best managed at the corporate level (such as NAP consistency), while other tasks (like uploading photos, for example) are best accomplished by people at the location who have intimate knowledge of the store and the local area. Depending on resources and management style, each organization needs to find the right balance for itself.
Google My Business Locations is undergoing the same sort of growing pains that we all went through with Google My Business over the last few years. However, it's a vast improvement over what we previously had to work with and is continually getting better.
Check your dashboard weekly for errors and messages from Google. Make corrections as soon as possible and respond quickly to emails regarding management access. Also establish a standard process for handling the data in GMBL when a new location opens or an existing location moves, changes its phone number or closes.
Phone and email support are both available for GMBLs, just as they are for Google My Business. While logged into the account that holds your listings, go to the support area and click on the CONTACT US button at the top right to see your options for getting help.