Have you been taking advantage of Google’s Bulk Upload tool for Google Places listings? It allows webmasters to upload 10 or more listings to Google Places at the same time—a blessing for multifamily managers with several communities to maintain, but a scandal earlier this year, when thousands of Places listings were taken over and major flaws were exposed within the tool.
At the beginning of 2014 it was discovered that a few thousand listings, belonging to various hotel chains, were hijacked by an unknown person or group. The perpetrators then replaced the URLs in order to direct traffic to a third-party booking site. Though exactly how all of these listings were able to make it through the postcard verification process is still unclear, there is one common characteristic shared by these listings: They were all uploaded with the bulk upload tool.
The bulk upload tool is incredibly helpful for adding large amounts of information to Google’s database, but that is about where the benefits end. You see, unlike listings that were claimed individually, bulk listings are not fully verified (they don’t get that little shield icon). This means that, even though the listing shows up in your dashboard, Google doesn’t see you as the official owner of the property. Rather, they see you as one of many possible sources of information on the location.
A listing uploaded through the bulk upload tool (1) Cannot be used to create a Google+ page, (2) Looks different from individually managed listings, (3) And where an individually updated listing has options for pictures, videos, and other things, bulk listings are only a pin on the map. Most importantly, adding information via bulk upload doesn’t prevent someone else from claiming the listing—and in situations involving multiple claimants, whoever gets the postcard information first is awarded ownership of the listing.
So what good is a bulk uploaded listing if it can still be claimed by another party? One situation where this would be helpful is for a management company with many communities and busy on-site staff. It might make sense in the short-term to do a bulk upload to submit information for all the properties. You could then claim the individual listings one by one, over time. That said, due to the fact that a bulk upload doesn’t provide any real ownership claim, many property managers are opting for one-by-one individual listings, and rightfully so.