Fraudulent Business Profiles in the Spotlight as Google Updates Verification Requirements and Trust
Reports of a new Google Business Profile (GBP) verification label are currently circulating within the local SEO community. Select GBPs have received the new ‘confirmed’ label from Google to show that the associated business has had its details verified recently.
Although not all GBPs have received this label, searchers can see that certain profiles have had their business details verified by Google—likely through an automated phone call.
Boosting Trust and Tackling Fraud
As Claire Carlile points out in her tweet above, this new label could be valuable as a trust signal. The label states how long ago the business was contacted by Google to confirm its details, so this small but helpful feature will allow searchers to see which businesses definitely have up-to-date information. This could naturally influence which businesses people choose to engage with.
The additional confirmation also has the potential to expose fraudulent accounts as they may be unable to pass the additional verification steps required during the call.
How to Get Confirmed by Phone
Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to request that Google contacts you to confirm your details.
It appears that the only way to influence this label appearing on your GBP is ensuring you answer the phone call if you do receive one, and, of course, appropriately confirming your details during the call. However, whether the label is then assigned to you or not is still naturally at Google’s discretion.
Updating Your Business Details
It’s not yet clear if this is a test or a permanent addition to GBP. However, should it become permanent, it may see profiles with the label elevated above the rest in terms of consumer trust.
This makes it all the more important that your contact details—especially your phone number—are always kept up to date. Similarly, you should make sure calls to your business phone number are always answered when possible. If you’re lucky enough to receive a confirmation phone call but you miss it, there’s no telling when you might be chosen again!
Double Verification for Google Business Profiles
Around the same time as rolling out the ‘confirmed’ label, Google also updated the verification help document to state that additional verification methods may now be required.
The updated version of the document now reads:
Some experts have theorized that this strengthening of the verification process could be an attempt to combat fraudulent profiles.
Google Business Profile Verification Methods
The original way to verify GBP was to receive a postcard to the registered business address. Although this method is still in use, there are now a number of other options available, these are:
Receiving a phone call
Receiving a text message
Receiving an email
Sending a video recording
Participating in a live video call
The video recording verification option has been available to a small number of businesses in the past, but is now available to all.
The Impact for Local Businesses
If you’re a legitimate business, then you’ve no reason to be concerned about the potential for double verification. Should this be asked of you, all you need to do is follow the instructions provided and submit the required information.
A more stringent verification process could help to reduce fake listings in the Local Pack, Local Finder, and Google Maps—which is great news for authentic businesses.
If you’re a marketer working with local businesses, then you’ll want to make your clients aware that additional verification may be required. Ensuring that their contact details and other information is accurate now could help to avoid problems with this in the future.