on August 29, 2018 Google My Business Google API

Google My Business Launches API Updates: Verification, Chain Membership, and More

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Google’s been on a roll this year with updates to the Google My Business (GMB) API. In April, the company announced the version 4.1 update, which contained useful features such as the ability to supply business descriptions, and to retrieve photos and videos added to your listings by other Google users.

Today, Google is launching the GMB API version 4.2, another significant update which introduces a range of new features. Some features replicate what’s available in the GMB dashboard, and some are exclusive to the API. In this column, we’ll cover what you should know about this important Google update.

Claiming and Verification

To claim your listing on Google, you must first verify that you’re an authorized representative of your business. Depending on the data Google already has about your business, you may be given the option to verify via postcard, phone call, email, or SMS. Using one of these methods, Google will provide a PIN code that you are asked to enter in your GMB dashboard in order to complete the verification process.

Listing has been created

The verification screen in the GMB dashboard.

With the new API update, this entire workflow can be managed outside of the GMB dashboard. A listing management company can help you search for the listing you want to claim, request verification on your behalf, collect the PIN code from you, and forward it on to Google. These API features will help listing management services operate more efficiently and give business owners fewer logins to worry about.

Expanded Location Filters and Organization Account Info

Back in June, Google announced a new kind of account for agencies and listing management providers that made it easier to manage hundreds or even thousands of listings. These are called Organization Accounts. With the v4.2 update, Google has added new search filters that help you locate listings in your account by criteria like business name or category, as well as a query that lets you retrieve basic account information for your Organization Account.

These may not seem like exciting updates to the ordinary user, but they showcase Google’s increasingly collaborative attitude towards companies that help businesses manage their listings, a good sign for the industry.

Chain Membership

This one is exciting for us, given Brandify’s focus on serving the needs of multi-location brands. Google now allows API users to indicate that a given location is a member of a chain. You can specify the name of the chain, the corporate URL, and the number of locations. So far, Google hasn’t indicated whether any of this data will be displayed publicly, but if nothing else, it should act as an internal indicator that helps to ensure listings are properly grouped under a brand. The feature is only available at this time in the API.

Product Posts

Already available in the GMB dashboard, Google Posts of the new type Product can now be created using the API. Product Posts help you showcase your product offerings by indicating the name of a featured product as well as its price or price range. As with all Posts, you can also add a photo or video and a call to action button, such as “Shop” with a link to your e-commerce site. The limitation still exists that Posts cannot be created through the API if your account has ten or more locations.

Reviewer Profile Photos

Google is adding photos of reviewers to the data returned when you pull in reviews via the API. This is a nice addition, since a photo of each reviewer is a familiar sight in Google’s published reviews. You’ll now be able to put a face to the name when looking through your Google reviews in third party platforms.  

reviewer profile

Photos of reviewers will now be available in the API.

That’s it for the new functionality. We’re glad to see the fast pace of iteration in the GMB world these days. The official launch of the GMB API was less than three years ago and they’ve already reached version 4.2. That said, we’re still looking for a couple of updates that would make life easier for brands and the companies who serve them. In particular, we’d love to see Google remove the ten-location restriction for Posts, and to add support in the API for Questions and Answers.

Rest assured we’ll let you know if and when those updates appear!

Damian Rollison

Damian Rollison is VP of Product.