More threads by MikeVillanueva

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Hi all! So happy to have found this forum.

I have a tricky GBP verification situation and could use some advice.

I'm helping a friend's small law firm with 2 locations in a large city. The firm uses a DBA (registered with the county) for their website, branding, marketing, signage, and their GBP listing. This original listing has never had issues.

Recently they opened a 2nd office across town, and created a GBP listing for it (same DBA name, different address). It's a real office (not virtual), with our own staff working there during business hours.

For verification, we were only offered postcard. We waited 17 days, then re-requested, then 21 days, re-requested, and now it's 15 days since the 3rd request. Still nothing. Clicking "I don't have a code" and "Change method" just took me back to the Postcard by Mail option. Phone, text, or video verification options are not available.

So, I just went to Google Business Profile Help and entered "postcard did not arrive." In step 3 (Contact Options), Email is the only option provided.

I'm trying to answer the questions asked, but they seem a like poor fit for our situation. I hope I can get some pointers from you all, and avoid making a mistake that keeps them from getting verified.

Here are Google's questions (and my questions about the questions):

Picture of storefront which clearly shows permanent signage

This is a high-rise office building, with many businesses suites inside. There are no exterior signs for those businesses, and no lobby directory.
Business names and suite numbers are on small signs next to each office door - that's the only permanent signage.
  • Does just Google want a picture of the sign next to the door?
  • Or should this be an exterior photo of the building, showing the street number?
  • If a picture of the sign: the sign lists 4 names, the main tenant and 3 sub-lessors (2 solo practitioners and our firm). We have full-time staff and dedicated workspace there, and our attorneys meet with clients and prospective clients there. Is this OK for a GBP listing?

Picture of storefront which clearly shows adjacent storefronts and respective signage
Again I'm stuck on how to interpret "storefront":
  • If it means our door, inside the building: The door and sign are in a hallway corner, a good distance from the next suite, and there's no camera angle to capture two suite signs in the same photo.
  • If it means the exterior, should I send a photo of the full building next to neighboring ones? The building is on its own block, so neighboring businesses are across the street, again difficult to capture in a photo.

Picture of storefront taken from across the street which clearly shows address markers (e.g. street name signs and address numbers)
I did a screen-grab of Street View that shows street signs for both of the cross streets, and the building itself.
  • But this is just proof that this building is really at this address, is that helpful at all?
  • Also: is Google OK with Street View screen grabs, or do we need to take original photos ourselves?

Attach any relevant proof (optional)
Here I could attach:
  • Sublease agreement (lists the main Landlord, Sublessor, and our firm)
  • DBA with the county
  • City business license
  • Is anything else useful here? Utilities are in the name of the main tenant and our phones are a VoIP with our main address listed on the invoices.

Sorry for the long post. I hope it can be useful to others in similar situations! :)

Thanks so much for any advice.
Mike
 
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Thank you, @JeffClevelandTN!

I've been reading a fair amount on the forum in the last few days, and have made some inroads into the questions above, but others are still pretty opaque, TBH.

My best guess so far is that this firm, while compliant with GBP guidelines, is living dangerously...having chosen a second location in a shared office and building with no street-level signage or lobby directory. Evidently they were not planning with GBP in mind :)

Can't help wondering if this strange combination of postcard-only verification, and postcard never arriving, is a sort of shadow pre-suspension by Google. First slowing down the process to deter spammers, then (what I assume is coming) a gauntlet of scrutiny before getting verified.

Which, fair enough I guess, given the particulars.

Speaking of which: there is another law firm in their same vertical, in this building. We were unaware of it until Google pointed it out at the time of GBP profile creation, asking whether this firm was in fact us. So it seems that coming out the other end of this, the firm's listing could still be filtered due to the "same building" issue.

Maybe they should just break their lease and move elsewhere! :D
 

JeffClevelandTN

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Hey Mike, I wouldn't read too much into the postcard not arriving, it seems that anything we've been mailing lately by USPS has been either late or doesn't arrive :confused:. So.... my experience is somewhat limited with "Google Business Profile Help" for GBP verification issues, but you are following the correct steps necessary if you don't get the postcard.

Here are my thoughts and suggestions, but I'm hopeful that Colan or another GBP Product Expert will share their expertise.

Picture of storefront which clearly shows permanent signage
I think a picture of the sign next to the door.

Picture of storefront which clearly shows adjacent storefronts and respective signage
Maybe you can take a pano-picture to grab both signs?

Picture of storefront taken from across the street which clearly shows address markers (e.g. street name signs and address numbers)
With other Google remediation methods, they typically want original photography, not their own Street View images.

Attach any relevant proof (optional)
I think the first three items you mentioned would be appropriate.

Lastly, I can't remember what types of files are suitable for upload. But if any of these, especially the "relevant proof" section allows you to upload a video, then I'd suggest going thru the same steps as if you had been offered the "video recording" verification method found here: How to verify your business on Google - Google Business Profile Help

Plan your video. In one continuous recording, include:
  • Your current location. To show your Google Maps location, capture outside signs, like your street’s name, nearby businesses, or the area around your business.
  • Business or equipment. To show that your business is at this Google Maps location, capture your operations. This can include things like stock for sale, branded equipment, marketing materials, and tools you use to serve your customers.
  • Proof of management. To show that you’re authorized to represent your business, capture your access to employee-only items or areas. This includes things like a cash register, kitchen, storage room, or non-sensitive business documents. You can also use your keys to open your facility.

 
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Jeff, belated thanks for your really helpful response on this.

While (still) waiting for the staff to complete the photos, and have a couple follow-ups if you don't mind:

Though the questions specifically for photos, the uploader for each question allows a single file of any file type. Do you think it's OK to upload a video when Google only asked for a photo? Asking because a video might be a better way to show the door and adjacent door, rather than a very long panoramic photo, which may cause confusion.

Note: Below the "Any relevant proof" question, Google suggests using a .zip file for uploading multiple files, if needed. But that suggestion appears only there, not under the questions requesting photos]

Also, I've seen on the forums people suggesting proactively uploading these "proof" videos and photos to the GBP listing's photo album. Would you suggest doing this in addition to these submissions?
 

keyserholiday

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The only important question is, do they have an actual office with signage? This will be used instead of Streetview signage. If they do, take photos and add it to the GBP profile.
 

JeffClevelandTN

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I'm going to defer to @keyserholiday this is definitely Jason's wheelhouse :) As he suggested, I'd take a photo of the door with the small sign you mentioned that has the business name and suite number clearly visible and upload to GBP. In regards whether to upload photos or videos, I'd just upload photos as that is what they are specifically asking for. In regards to any video(s), I'd put that in the zip file for "Any relevant proof". After you've done all that Google has requested and you are still stuck, don't give up, I'm confident that one of the GBP experts on the forum will be able to step in and offer additional help, advice, or escalation.
 

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