There are so many platforms that business owners can use to promote their company, it’s understandable that many forget about their listings once they’re first set up. Business owners will need to a pay a little more attention to their Google My Business accounts now. Google has started to remove the verified badge from businesses that have left their Google My Business accounts inactive for long a time.
Often businesses change their names, move to new locations or shut down entirely without making changes to the online directories where they listed the business. This leads to a situation where Google search results for the web and maps can show “verified” listings for businesses that don’t exist. This new policy will help Google give more accurate local search results.
Removing the verified badge should matter to business owners because it affects how the business looks when people search for it on Google. If a customer searches for nearby delis on their mobile device and one listing is verified and the other isn’t, they are more likely to check out the verified listing first.
Google won’t make the change lightly and they will try to contact the business to verify the listings on their own. However, this can be problematic for businesses whose pages were set up by someone else and the regular employees don’t know to be on the lookout for an email from Google about such issues.
“In some cases, we may contact Google My Business users via email to confirm that they are still actively managing a business page” wrote a Google spokesperson on a help form post. “If a user is unresponsive to our attempts to contact him or her and has not logged into Google My Business for a significant length of time, then we may unverify pages in the account. We’re doing this in order to continue to provide users with the best experience when they’re looking for local businesses like yours. If you find that a page in your account has been incorrectly unverified, please contact support to get assistance restoring verification.”
As the above comments reflect, Google has a system in place for businesses who lose their verification and want to have it restored. To prevent a Google My Business page from being “unverified”, all the business needs to do is log into every so often, which is a good practice anyway because it gives business owners a chance to check the accuracy of content. It’s unclear if using an autoposter like Hootsuite, Buffer or Dlvr.it count as logging in, but since users are required to reverify those accounts every few months, that action should prevent inactivity triggers.
According to one marketer who faced this issue on some of the accounts they managed, the trigger point is at six months of inactivity. Another noted that these actions are consistent with Google has done in in countries like Canada, Germany, Australia and the UK last year.
Though Google gave no indication of it, it stands to reason that Google will eventually move to remove listings that are unverified and still inactive after a certain period. If not, the number of outdated pages on Google My Business will increase. Removing old and unused pages will also help business owners who have had to establish duplicate pages after losing access to their initial account.
So while Google’s plan to “unverify” certain Google My Business pages may seem annoying at first, the practice is good for businesses who use the platform by keeping the verified badge relevant. Business owners who have a Google My Business page should make sure they can access it so their account remain verified.
For more news about changes to Google products, read this article on Google’s new content suggestion tool for AdSense publishers.