All posts by Mike Blumenthal

Google My Business Verification Whitelisting Update

I recently received these details about the yet unannounced Google My Business Whitelisting program that I wrote about last month. The program allows large agencies to not have to go through the normal postcard verification process and to have the listings instantly verified.

The writer asked to remain anonymous. I have been unable to verify some of the details with a second source. That being said, the writer was knowledgable and creditable.


  • It executes in the new GMB dashboard not via the API as I previously stated.
  • There are certain categories (most you know but there are few surprises) that are excluded and still need to be manually verified.
  • It supports both individual and bulk uploads.
  • From other sources I have learned that the program has a minimum of 10,000 listings to participate.

His communications with minor edits for clarity:

We received the [Google whitelisted] account this past fall.

The account looks like anyone else’s and has the same functionality. The only difference is, that we don’t have the normal verification process. Sometimes the [new] GMB listings goes live immediately, sometimes they are pending review and sometimes we have to verify locations the normal way, because some categories are not available for instant verification.

Pending review:
I realized that locations with no information in the entry itself and a weak web presence (no or bad website) more often goto the pending review status than others. Also bigger companies with several departments (hospitals, universities) which have the same address, very often go into pending review (the first 50% go live and then the rest move to pending in review, but I don’t know if it works in the end or if they want pictures or anything else like normal, because at this point I just don’t to know).

Very often locations which I bulk upload go into pending review, when there is an existing unverified Maps listing, but Google didn’t offer as a choice of locations from a list of already existing unverified listings with similar names after the upload like normal. I didn’t try it with single locations I put into the account.

When I look for the location which is in pending review status, and take the correct name and put it as an single location to my account, it goes live instantly.

The instant verification used the new layout for adding new locations into the account.

Oh and because of the instant verification I forgot something else that doesn’t work.

When you have a verified account and nobody answers your request for access, Google gives you the option to verify the GMB listing newly with PIN, phone, … after one week. These GMB listings are also not available for the instant verification, the system shows them still as verified profiles.

Categories which are not allowed for instant verification (which we got from google +1 we found out by ourselves):
1. Locksmith & plumbers
2. Car Services (taxis, limos,etc)
3. Towing services & Auto glass repair
4. Garage door repair
5. Moving companies
6. Adult businesses
7. Computer & appliance repair
8. Cable & internet providers
9. Alcohol and drug abuse recovery services
10. Home or office cleaning service
11. Bail Bond providers
12. Pest control services
13. Insurance providers to individuals or small busineses
14. Lawyers and legal services
15. Personal and small business loans
16. Contracting service for home or business work and repair
17. Electrical repair, installation and inspection services
18. Flower shops and flower delivery services
19. Real estate agents

Thoughts About Local Knowledge Panels Not Showing for Branded Searches

Last week a number of agencies noted that theirs and their client’s Knowledge Panel were not showing on a non- geo-modified brand search when they had been previously.

I don’t doubt that Google changed something. The reports were too pervasive to think that it was just a Google brain fart.

What I think that they changed was the relative importance of Knowledge Panels vis a vis the other universal results.

Google has stated that they have a relevance value of disparate types of results (ie video, organic, KP, etc) that orders search results to any query.

I assume that for any query there is a threshold for any given type of answer (ie video etc) to make in into the results.

Have you ever seen a local website outrank a KP result for a brand search? Last week we saw a number of them.

That implies to me that all of the sudden that number that was applied to the KP that dictates when and where a KP shows was lowered compared to the website.

A similar logic applies in the missing branded KP results: the newly ranked KP entity does not now meet the threshold value required to appear for that given value due to its lower relative value.

Obviously my hypothesis is just that. But for a start it is consistent with the facts.

Next step would be to test my hypothesis and see if with some combination of tactics you can escalate the relative importance of the entity for a simple name only brand search.

Ideas to test:
– reviews at Google and Yelp and around the web that include the brand name
branded mentions at high profile sites
– more branded anchor text across the web
– increasing the use of brand name in title tags and headlines of the web the website – ie lead with brand on your home page title tag
– perhaps some internal branded links back to the home page from the about us or contact us page

Another source of ideas to test would be to do a local comparison of your location’s attributes to those of local entities that did not lose their KP

Like I said, it’s just a hypotheses. But it is one that at least offer a path to testing to see if some of these can be recovered.

Alternative ideas? Suggestions? Let me know.

Google Local Realtor Search Result – On Steroids

Marci Weiche is a realtor in Buffalo Mn. And a good one whose husband cares about her website and is making sure her digital presence is up to snuff.

I am not sure if this is a test or the new normal for realtors but this search result is really up to snuff.

Note the placement of her website above the knowledge panel and the inclusion of her photo. And the many photos in the organic results. Cripes she even managed to get in that cute family photo.

In addition to photos from her site, photos were grabbed from Zillow, Yelp and

Is this the new norm for realtors and other professionals? Or just a test?

Google Updates GMB Home View for Businesses

Google has updated the home view of each business so that each business is presented with a view of their Google data that is unique and important to that business. Depending on activity and busness type the calls to action and features highlighted will very on a business by business basis.

Previously the home view offered each bus from a standardized card view that was consistent across different locations.

While this could be a test, it has the feel of a rollout to me. But who knows.

Here are three examples of the new home page highlighting different calls to action for different businesses (jeweler, restaurant, doctor):

Click to view larger
Click to view larger

Along with this new view, arrived a new spam email from Google that I had previously seen encouraging inactive businesses to confirm their data:

Mike B around the Interwebs

I have been traveling a lot and writing less than I would like… hopefully I will be able to get some more content out the door over the next few months….

Here are articles/interviews/podcasts where I have add my 2 cents of late:

Voice of America Interview with Kimberli J. Lewis: Business Growth through Presence and Reputation Management (podcast)

Video Deep Dive: Why are reviews being taken down by Google? (also available as a podcast)

Video: Last Week in Local Dec. 4, 2017 Important articles in Local last week with Mary Bowling (also available as a podcast)

How Far Can Google Local Services Expand? My b-weekly convo with David Mihm

Google Websites’ Uptake Accelerates as they Pass 1.1 Million Total

It’s been six months since the worldwide introduction of Google Websites, their free, single page web builder for Google My Business listings. Google has confirmed that the total number of websites created has surpassed 1 million some time in early November.

The number of sites created is impressive and should give pause to companies that are creating websites, what is even more interesting about that number is that since the last time I checked in mid September, the pace has accelerated from just under 6000 a day to over 7000 a day.

Websites created since introduction vs Projected websites based on first 3 months trend. Click to view larger.

Initially from June through July, Google was adding slightly over 6000 sites a day. I assumed at the time that was due to introduction buzz.

From mid July, when Google had hit 250,000 Websites, until mid September they were still adding 5800 or so a day. While a slightly lower rate, still significant. However since my last check in September over two months ago, Google has been adding 7300 a day.

On a country by country basis India and Indonesia continue to lead the total count with both having more than doubled in slightly under 3 months.  Turkey has pulled into 4th place with a 134% increase bypassing Brazil which seems to have stalled.

15-Jun 15-Sep 5-Dec
Country Total Pages Total Pages Total Pages Increase since 9/15
India 44,600 96,400 196,000 103%
Indonesia 30,400 85,500 196,000 129%
United States 16,200 39,700 86,400 118%
Türkiye (turkey) 9,115 19,900 46,500 134%
Brasil 15,800 37,700 43,100 14%
Italia 6,280 12,500 29,300 134%
日本 (Japan) 6,870 12,800 27,700 116%
France 4,560 10,100 25,000 148%
Россия (Russia) 5,120 11,300 23,400 107%
Deutschland 4,300 9,400 21,600 130%
United Kingdom 3,570 8,250 18,600 125%
Polska (Poland) 3,285 6,740 16,000 137%
Argentina 7,820 13,500 15,500 15%
Canada 2,720 6,490 14,300 120%
Viet Nam 2,880 6,370 13,300 109%
Australia 2,620 5,870 12,200 108%
Espana 5,270 9,810 12,100 23%
Mexico 3,470 8,030 11,000 37%
Malaysia 1,730 4,600 10,300 124%

And while the product was designed to attract small businesses in the developing world, it has continued to gain ground in the developed world as well. Note that the United States, Italy, Japan, Germany, the UK, Poland, Canada and Australia show in the top 20 with most gaining gaining more than 125% since the last count.

Google Assistant Now Recommending Local Services – Particularly Their Own

Today Google has announced on their blog that the Google Assistant will now start helping you find local service providers.

In the U.S., this feature will start rolling out over the coming week, so help is just around the corner. In many cities the Google Assistant will suggest providers that have been prescreened by Google and companies like HomeAdvisor and Porch so you can feel confident they’re ready to take on the job. And if you’re in a city that doesn’t have any available guaranteed or screened providers, you’ll still get an answer from the Assistant with other nearby results.

But as Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky  pointed out on Twitter, the example that Google is showing are not of HomeAdvisor or Porch but of the new Google Local Services ads.

If you wondered how Google was going to monetize Home, this provides a good framework for that with its ability to facet the search into discreet elements and provide a single answer if needed. It mirrors closely the conversation David Mihm and I had on Streetfight at the beginning of the week where we asked How Far Can Google Local Services Expand?

Now we know the first baby step.

According to Google it’ll be available for eight different categories at launch, including:

  • Plumbers
  • House cleaners
  • Locksmiths
  • Heating and air conditioning services
  • Electricians
  • Garage door repair services
  • House painters
  • Appliance repair services

For businesses within the above categories, local services on the Assistant is currently free for any business that can pass the Local Services by Google vetting process. Businesses that want to participate can fill out this interest form and someone from the Local Services team will reach out to help them onboard after validating their location and category. Businesses do not have to pay to go through the background check process.

Homewdvisor, in their pre-release about this feature noted:

The experience includes the option to instantly connect users with a HomeAdvisor pre-screened professional through HomeAdvisor’s Instant Connect technology. The experience is available via the Google Assistant on eligible Android phones, iPhones and on voice activated speakers like Google Home.

If anyone tries it, please update us!

Google Q & A Rolling out to the Desktop

Google Q & A, periodically visible on the desktop, seems to be finally rolling out full force to both PCs and Macs.

Earlier in the week, after the feature had largely gone missing even on mobile.  Danny Sullivan (now of Google) noted that it was but a temporary bug. It would seem that it was a precursor to the full roll out which appears to be happening now.

As you can see, it is viisble in the Knowledge Panel AND the Local Finder.  It is not yet visible in Google Maps.

First rolled out this summer with a mobile only visibiliy, desktop visibility will increase both how easy it is to find them as well as make it easier to have them created. I am seeing a surprising number of them both rurally and in urban environments although the questions are not always valuable or appropriate.

The feature is not yet visible in Google Maps nor in the Google My Business Dashboard. Google has though recently started alerting business owners to their existence by way of the newly expanded Search Dashboard. We are hoping to see more active alerts via the full GMB dashboard at some point.

Google Testing Verification Whitelisting via API with Large Resellers & IYPs

Long asked for but not yet made public, a number of large Adwords resellers and IYPS seemingly now have the ability to auto-verify local listings via an API.

I have spoken with a number of European and North American resellers that claim to have the functionality.  Although I have not yet seen it, its existence has been confirmed from multiple sources.

I do not know the processes involved, how Google vets the quality of the listings or if there are additional steps but the flow sounds expedited.

Obviously for anyone doing any amount of verification work, this would be a huge time saver.

And for spammers it could be a new vector. If you have details about how the product works, I would love to hear. Email me

And apparently when I was not looking (traveling and speaking in Spain and California) Google has started offering up additional SMB verification options and an easier sign up flow.



Google Alerting Business Owners to Recent Questions in the New Search Dashboard on Mobile

Google Q & A has been one of the most problematic recent introductions because the questions can so readily impact the reputation of a business.

And even more problematic because there is not active notification of the business owner that a new question or answer exists and these questions are not yet visible on the desktop although there have been lots of sightings of them on the desktop in the wilds. (To view these on the desktop read this article: Hack: Seeing Google Questions & Answers on the Desktop).

While it is possible to get in front of the Questions with a good plan, a partial solution seems to be at hand with the new Google Dashboard in Search on mobile where there is a very clear indication of the existence of a new question:

When the business owner clicks on “Respond” they are taken to this screen and offered the opportunity to provide and answer. Perfect? By no means but a small step for the SMB for sure.