Google changes Bulk Uploads to Unverified in LBC – leads to loss of rank?

In an apparent change in the Local Business Center procedure & policy, Google is now classifying most some bulk uploads as “unverified”. This change has led a number of posters in the new support forums (here, here, here & here) to question the new classification and note a significant loss of rank for their listings.

Google’s Maps Guide Brianna offered up this explanation:

Hi all,

Listings that have been submitted and verified (by phone, sms or mail) through the LBC “add listing” process won’t have the unverified label. Listings that have been submitted through the bulk upload process may have the Unverified Listing label, depending on what other data we have about the business.

While we realize this recent change may cause an inconvenience for you, we recommend that you manually verify your listings.

Previously, bulk uploaded listings were noted as verified in the LBC but with a lower trust level than a record that had additionally followed the phone or post card PIN verification process. The new “Unverified Listing” label will force more bulk uploaders to PIN verify. The move appears to be an anti-spam measure that will allow these listings into the index but will lower ranking visibility unless Google has “other data… about the business“.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google changes Bulk Uploads to Unverified in LBC - leads to loss of rank? by

18 thoughts on “Google changes Bulk Uploads to Unverified in LBC – leads to loss of rank?”

  1. Doing your own submission to Google is not a complete answer since it provides no certainty of avoiding duplication or rejection. More importantly it does not address the other sites which in this category of business listings have more searches than Google. This is why at http://www.universalbusinesslisting.org we provide data right into the primary databases that Google and most of the other search sites use – over 50 locations including all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft), online Yellow Pages (Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com, Whitepages.com ), MapQuest, 411 Directory Assistance, Mobile and GPS navigation devices. It is the only way to be certain that the listings come from a verified source and get distributed all over the diverse publishing landscape. It includes all the enhanced data that gets used, is faster than self-listing and it is inexpensive ($30). Listing spam is the curse of the industry and why bulk and self listing is never going to entirely work.

  2. Hi Chris

    While self listing is never going to work entirely, it has been Google’s policy to allow it to happen in a bulk fashion. Obviously, the previous level of verification was not rigorous enough to prevent lots of spam. Here’s hoping that Google’s new system avoids it…although from where I sit, it appears it will still be in the index but not as visible. Since Google is not taking listings from just verified sources this will unlikely change. Still a far cry from the standard of accuracy that I think Local should and could achieve.

    Mike

    PS I really appreciate you posting here and sharing your experience with local. I would however, prefer, if your posts were somewhat less self promotional.

  3. So, basically, the word from the horse’s mouth is that you’d better verify your listings, one by one.

    You know what would be helpful, though this may be a little off topic? I was walking a client through claiming a listing recently. It was for a store that does not have Internet service at the store. This meant that the business owner needed to claim his listing from home. However, because Google would not let the owner offer a different telephone number for Google to call to verify the listing, the client had to go the slower post card route. I think it would be nice if there could be some workaround to this issue. Unless I’ve missed it, there isn’t one.

    I know Google wants to call the business phone number to verify that the business owner is there and is legitimate, but when he doesn’t have the web at work, I guess he is out of luck.

    Miriam

  4. Hi Miriam

    or rather you’d better verify your listings, one by one….depending on what other data [they] have about the business… I wonder what that means….

    The one thing that works on the phone number verification from a remote site is if they have 2 phone numbers and 2 phones (a cell works for the second line)…call in one one, google on the other and get the person on the other end to enter the pin….

    I guess the workaround is the postcard.

    Mike

  5. Ahmed,
    Where is that in the application? I know you are right, but what has to happen to prompt that information to appear.

    The thing is, when you are walking a client through the process, you can only accompany them through the first page of the process (unless you fill out the data yourself and I like to have the client do it so they feel in charge/responsible). Once they hit the submit button on the first page of the process and it takes them to the do you want a phonecall/postcard page, you can’t see that part yourself.

    I did ask this last client if he was sure he wasn’t being offered any other options on that page, and he said no. I wondered if Google had changed things since the last time I helped a client do this a couple of weeks ago. I had to take his word for it. But I’d love it if Ahmed could show me where that call later option is because the client didn’t see it (though I am positive I have seen this in the process).

    Mike – I’m curious, what do you do with your clients? Do you walk them through the claiming process or just do it yourself? It would certainly be easier to do it one’s self, but I really do like to teach the clients all about what we are doing for their business.

    Gracias!
    Miriam

  6. Having no bulk upload feature would mean tremendous amounts of work in some situations.

    My thoughts, use bulk upload and kml via webmaster toola and you should be safe. Going to verify this with some accounts right now.

  7. @Martijn
    The question is: Which Bulk uploads will Google tag as “Unverified”? It could be that if the listing is not able to be cross verified with a a different list it will be tagged. Perhaps the KML is enough to prevent the classification. It apparently is not happening on all bulk uploads.

    @Miriam
    I generally do them for them and if possible call them on their cell and get them to enter the pin. However an interesting middle path would be using something like TeamViewer.com so you can see what they see. Google notes that “the owner can choose to receive the call immediately or after a five minute delay”.

  8. wow – this is going to make life a bit long winded. Giving someone 5 minutes to call isn’t enough time if they are at home trying to claim a listing – unless they call forward their biz number to their home number for that point in time.
    using a cell phone will only drive the calls to that number as the main number, once you try to change it back to the main number if it’s a land line restarts the PIN verification process over again.

    I’ll take some time out of my schedule tomorrow and go over my bulk uploads and see if there are any currently that say – unverified. Did Google provided a timeline as to going forward or uploads as of a certain time will carry this ‘unverified’ mark of shame?

    Joan

  9. btw they should fix or workaround that phone problem they have where you are sometimes unable to verify by phone with certain PBX systems (it doesn’t recognize the buttons pushed for PIN ).

    btw, one big account I have isn’t showing any unverified listings.I used bulk upload and KML.

  10. @Joan

    The only comment from Google was the one made above to a number of complaints of the message showing up and lower rankings…

    @Jaon+ Martijn
    I would be useful to know what Google is using as the criteria to tag…it would seem likely to me that they are referencing a database rather than the KML files but who knows given the limited information made available.

    Mike

  11. Sorry Miriam – I was saying that is what we (iBegin) do – we let the claimer schedule a call for later.

    As for bulk uploading, we basically have an agency program – trusted partners (whose listings we randomly verify) that can bulk upload with an instant ‘verified’ label.

    Both things I am sure Google could easily do (though I am sure their volume for an agency program would be very high).

  12. Hey there Mike, I see you actively on the forums and read your blog as of late also. I was curious about this, I find that some of my listings even though they are unverified can appear at the number 1 spot if they had the correct needs by the current worm met to be at that position. Which this time around was “Categories”. If the categories matched the search terms then they were boosted in ranks regardless of label. So I don’t think being unverified is a bad thing so much except when searching by city and not zip code.

    Ex: search term used : court reporter 90210

    The answer is the letter (E) A1 Court Reporter is one of our companies. An unverified listing on the first page. But if you looked up Beverly Hills we would be on page 9 or so.

    This begs to ask the question, why make listings unverified? If they can still rank at all, why not just delete all bulk uploads and restart them. I also noted that the 1Mb filesize “limit” on the Bulk upload utility via their site is more of a guideline then an actual rule. y stack is 5 megs large and I am able to upload it, though I have to babysit the computer for a bit it was well worth it to make sure that my company listings were up. So why not just delete bulk loads that were bigger than a certain filesize the help lose the mapspam? Their are a lot of ways they could have gone in this but they failed miserably with the way they handled this particular situation.

    If I were simply trying to mapspam I wouldn’t be putting up such a fight for my listings nor would I care to be known, spammers don’t want to be in the spotlight. I just want my business back.

  13. Thanks for stopping by and contributing. I have little direct experience with bulk uploads so your reporting out is valuable.

    I think that Google is trying to establish “levels” of trust in the bulk uploads. In the past they have spoken about a trusted agency program that would involve a close relationship and higher trust. My sense is that what we are seeing is the first step in that delineation.

    I was speculating as to the purpose of the change being to make it harder for spam to list. It could very well be something else. But…a number of folks have reported that not all bulk uploads were so tagged. Clearly the ones that were met Google’s criteria in some way to be reclassified as “Unverified” and thus needing additional verification.

    Mike

  14. Well I can say this, in our business we use executive suites across the country to conduct business and in each of these suites there are businesses. We also do and I think that those addresses being used over and over again are causing us to look like spam since we are relatively new. Our company is only 2 years old but it thrived from a houston based company to nation wide with over 4000 people under us. This single movement made by google has left us completely 100% dead in the water. We have lost about 95% of the business we had compared to last year. Until our listings fell on maps, we had a record high in hits on the site and phone for work. We went from 17 gigs of bandwidth to 6 hits on the site overnight. We NEED maps. It is what our business is based on completely. The only business we get are repeat customers, and we only briefly touched the surface of the market so that is not many repeating customers to be had. If they are trying to establish trusted companies then they need to call such companies and speak with a representative or the founder of said company and work WITH companies, not drown them out in our dying economy.

  15. @Roderick

    They could very well be dinging you for use of these suites…or perhaps there is some sort of new sandbox that waits for a period of time or other verification before reranking?

    Mike

  16. Maybe that is so, but even if I change information in the listings in my LBC home, they don’t offer a verification method, making any way to verify my listing impossible.

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