As a Google My Business Gold Product Expert, I recently set out to answer the most frequently asked questions enterprise marketers have about GMB Bulk Verification. In this post, I’ve also provided a step-by-step guide to getting bulk verified including methods by which you can overcome the most common bulk verification hurdles.
What is GMB Bulk Verification?
According to Google’s guidelines, GMB Bulk Verification enables you to manage information for 10 or more locations of the same business across Google products like Maps and Search.
Who is eligible for bulk verification?
Multi-location businesses with 10 or more locations are eligible for bulk verification. However, Service Area Businesses (SABs) can not be bulk-verified.
As long as you meet the criteria and all locations are owned by the same corporation (or roll under a single umbrella), Google My Business may grant bulk verification to your account.
Does my brand really need bulk verification?
I always suggest bulk verification, if you’re eligible. Even if you don’t plan on opening another location any time in the next few years, having the ability to make changes to your locations easily (without ever having to track down a postcard, phone call, or email) will make it a lot easier and quicker to maintain accurate local listings, which we know is a critical aspect of your local search strategy.
If you are opening a lot of locations, acquiring regional brands, etc. bulk verification is that much more powerful.
What does bulk verification provide for multi-location businesses?
Once your request for bulk verification has been approved, you can make changes to existing locations without having to verify each one individually. Additionally, all new qualifying locations you add to your account will also be verified (bypassing postcard, email, and/or phone call verification methods).
Why am I being prompted to re-verify after accepting edits?
This is another one of those issues people are having due to recent changes Google has made in an effort to cut down spam.
With bulk verification, most changes will push through after a short ‘pending review’ status. However, in some cases (such as with major changes to name, category, and address), GMB could kick your listings into a ‘Re-verification’ state.
If you have a bulk account, this typically means an individual review of the listing and the necessity to click “verify now.” Upon refresh, the changes will be resubmitted. If for some reason it is kicking you into manual verification, this is unintentional and will have to be solved by GMB support.
Why am I getting an exceeded limit error when trying to upload locations?
This is an intentionally forced limit by Google. They have officially shared that if you haven’t been bulk verified, there’s a limit to the number of business listings you can create per Google Account in a given time period.
Listing creation thresholds for bulk spreadsheet upload are based on the number of verified listings you already have in your account. These limits exist to help maintain the integrity of listings on Google. If you are ineligible for bulk verification, your listing limit per time period will increase as the number of verified listings you manage rises.
How can I apply edits in bulk?
Unfortunately, you can only accept suggested updates in bulk within the UI—you cannot make or decline in bulk.
Based on what I’ve seen happen with GMB over the past two years, they’re definitely prioritizing the SMB user when it comes to design and functionality. Most elements of GMB are not considered with the agency or multi-location user in mind. That is intentional, as they are such a small segment of GMB users. This is where working with a service and technology partner is really beneficial, to automate what can be automated and manually intervene as needed.
How to get started with bulk verification: A step-by-step guide
The process for bulk verification can vary based on the complexity and quality of your location data. It’s important that you clean up your GMB account and location data prior to requesting bulk verification, as failing to do so could cause unnecessary delays with the bulk verification process.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to get started:
1. Create a Google My Business account.
The email address you use will carry your bulk verification accreditation for the lifetime of the business, so it’s important to use an email address that will not leave your company with an employee. I’ve seen many instances where brands lose ownership to their GMB accounts because they initially received bulk verification via a personal email. While setting up bulk verification may seem time-consuming, I can assure you that trying to re-verify a previously verified bulk account is much worse. Do not overlook this step.
Use a generic email. A corporate domain email is great as long as this email will always exist or can be forwarded by your IT team. Otherwise, setting up a generic (not personal) Gmail address will work. You will need a corporate domain email address during the verification process, but it is not required that this is the ownership email. This will also be your primary email for receiving communications from GMB about your listings, so you will want to make sure you have inbox access. Once you’ve confirmed the email, you can proceed with creating your GMB account.
2. Prepare your website and location data.
Before submitting your request, ensure that Google can easily find and confirm the location data from your account on your website. It’s not a requirement to have individual location pages, but it definitely helps them with validating each location and address.
Additionally, if a lot of your locations do not yet exist or are outdated on Google Maps, make sure you have some storefront images showing your address and signage on hand. If Google needs additional verification because streetview is outdated, they will request these.
3. Create & import your bulk upload spreadsheet.
Gather all pertinent listing details for all of the locations you plan to manage and fill out the import template. When ready, log into GMB, click on ‘add location’ then ‘import spreadsheet’ and attach your import.
You will get a pre-processing button to review results, which allows you to see if your locations have any errors. Once you’ve fixed the errors within your spreadsheet and reloaded, you can save the file. This will add the locations to your dashboard. If you need more help on this step, see Google’s help resource here.
During the initial import process, Google is identifying whether or not a listing exists, examining the status of that listing, and pulling this into your account depending on the status:
- If the listing exists and is unclaimed, it will be pulled into your account as ‘Verification Required’.
- If it exists and is claimed, it will be pulled into your account as ‘Request Access’.
- If it does not exist, it will be created (unpublished) with the status of ‘Verification Required’.
Before submitting your request for bulk verification, you should have at least 10 qualifying locations in your account with only the status of ‘Verification Required’. All other locations should be removed from your account until after the verification process, to avoid delays.
4. Request verification.
Once you are ready with your location data triple checked, you can request verification. You just need to click ‘get verified’ next to one of your locations, click the chain option, then complete the form.
Most of the information on the form is straightforward—just make sure the ‘Business Manager Email’ belongs to someone with an @domain.com email who is ready to respond to an email from Google authorizing bulk verification or facilitating any questions or requests.
The ‘Google manager email’ will be the email of a direct ads or account rep at Google that you have worked with, who may be able to help answer questions as well or provide insight about your business.
In a perfect world, you will get an email to that ‘Business manager email’ in three to five business days requesting the brand to authorize bulk verification and all will be solved.
However, that’s usually not the case, so you’ll want to know how to manage a few common hurdles, as well.
Overcoming Bulk Verification Hurdles
These are some of the most common challenges with bulk verification—and how to solve or work around them.
- You’ve exceeded the limit for the number of locations you can upload to GMB in a single day. Try later.
I’ve only seen this start happening in the last 6-9 months, but it’s slowly become one of the most frequent and persistent issues plaguing enterprise brands.
The quickest way to bypass this error is to get bulk verification. What I’ve had success in and have advised others to do is to load as many locations as you can (at least 10), then include your full attached spreadsheet when you request bulk verification and explain receiving this error to the team.
As a side note, your limit is based on the number of existing verified locations you have in your account and resets every week.
- The GMB Team comes back with questions or a rejection.
Another common challenge is that enterprise marketers don’t necessarily understand what to do if the GMB Team comes back with questions or a rejection. This happens often and is typically due to the above items like duplicates or conflicts in your account, lack of location information on your website, or outdated street view.
Keep in mind that when Google is evaluating whether or not to grant your bulk verification request, they need absolute proof that:
- You are authorized to represent the brand and all of their current and future locations
- The location information you provided is truthful and accurate
- The business is within guidelines and qualifies for bulk
Because they are not only verifying the existing data you’ve loaded but any future changes or locations you add, they will be much more scrutinous during this process. It can take a few weeks to work through the issues. This is another reason it can pay off to work with an experienced local search technology and service partner.
Learn More About GMB Bulk Management for Multi-Location Brands
Enhance your GMB knowledge and improve your local search strategy. Here are a few great resources to get you started:
- Bulk Verification in The Expert’s Guide to Local SEO by Joy Hawkins
- Bulk Uploads Issues & Tactics in the LocalU Forum
- Busting the biggest GMB bulk management myths on the Rio SEO Blog
- Selecting Your Primary Category on Google My Business – Proceed With Care - September 30, 2020
- Coronavirus Related Health & Safety Attributes Launch in Google My Business - September 10, 2020
- Google My Business Adds Black-owned Attribute - July 30, 2020