Google, with the release of the new Google My Business API, is perhaps suggesting one of the biggest “best practice” shifts for handling SMB Google My Business accounts in years by suggesting that it is not only ok but preferred to claim multiple listings in a single Google My Business account. Yesterday in the Google Ads Developer blog post discussing the new GMB API Google said:
“For developers managing AdWords accounts with a large number of locations for small and medium businesses, we recommend creating one Google My Business account as a central repository for all locations. Each physical location should be created only once. If different owners and managers are involved per location or for sets of locations, we suggest using Business Accounts“.
For years as Google approached the small business market, it has long been Google’s recommendation for each business to create their own dashboard account. They made life hard for agencies in this mix and made claiming a business listing by someone other than the business an onerouse task. Despite on the ground reality Google stuck with the fiction of the small business owner claiming their own listing and barely tolerated agency involvement in the process.
So what is best practice for verification going forward? Should you claim the new listings into a master account? Its a little too early to make that call but it would appear that a possible small agency work flow would be to spreadsheet upload new listings into a master GMB account and individually verify it. Once you have access to the API that could occur within your own dashboard.
Until such time as this is clarified it makes sense to create a master GMB account and add it as a manager to all of your individually claimed listings and use the Business Accounts feature to organize them per your internal priorities.
The two worlds of bulk and single business listing management were long kept apart and the Google My Business dashboard had a singular focus on the small business owner. However with the rollout of the new integrated Google My Business dashboard and now the GMB API (can we get any more acronyms together?) Google is clearly shifting management and development priorities away from the single business towards the Adwords resellers.
Their needs in a location management product are much different than the needs of the small business and these recent developments speak to that. Larger Adword resellers need the ability to have many different companies in one account, they need the ability to easily use location extensions with these locations and they need it to be easily and centrally managed.
This would explain the lack of SMB polish in the new dashboard and why the bugs that were there at launch seem to disadvantage the single location owner more than those used to the workings of the Bulk dashboard. IE development priorities were focused on using the dashboard to manage multiple businesses not a single business.
There are many questions that remain unanswered as this shift of priorities and functionality moves forward:
Will large Adwords resellers ultimately be able to get whitelisted for individual small business verification added to this central account?
Will this single GMB account be used for AdWords and location extensions work equally well for managed as well as owned listings?
What happens for example when a small business shifts Adwords resellers will the verification go along with it?
Will adding Adwords into the already complicated GMB product (or in reality vice versa) make support totally incomprehensible?
And where does one go to get these questions answered?
When will the API for Bulk listings be opened as that seems a critical step to really make this work for larger resellers?
Will smaller resellers with Adwords accounts for 50 or 75 different small businesses be able to play?
How should they organize their accounts?
Are Business Accounts the answer?
What market driven distortions will occur short haul that are not aligned with Google’s long term goals but ultimately leave agencies or small businesses disadvantaged?
The flow and the reality within the new GMB is still unclear. So what else is new. As Google My Business appears to be pivoting yet one more time, the only thing we can count on is change.