Small businesses, with the paperwork and licensing required by local, state and federal governments, are being denied the ability to advertise their business on Google. For some busineses, better than ninety percent of all work is generated through Google's search engine. Some businesses worked with Google for only a few years, while others worked with Google for many more years prior to Google’s implementation of a program called “Google Advanced Verification.” The new program requires some small businesses to obtain special approval or verification in order to be able to advertise on Google. Part of the process requires a recorded video call with Google. Many legitimate small businesses are not getting approved. Because gauging the legitimacy of a business can done by referring to licensing and paperwork, there is some concern that a video call does not strictly adhere to whether or not a business is truly legitimate. We suspect that this might be done to cast judgement or conclusions based on ethnic background or any other details gained from a video interview that might be considered unlawfully biased.
Some small businesses that are gaining approval notices via email are then subsequently denied days or even weeks later without explanation. Some businesses that are denied have the option to appeal the decision with Google by filling out a form. Google allows the business owner to submit “any more information that might help reverse the disapproval,” but business owners have no idea what that could possible include since they have already proved they are a legitimate business and Google is not disclosing a more detailed explanation. Google simply tells business owners that they do not meet the standard. And without an explanation of what exactly that standard is, Google emails the business owners to tell them they were denied in the appeals process and the case is closed with no more recourse for the business owner.
Small businesses have been subjected to the humiliation of having to video themselves in order to satisfy the new Google “Advanced Verification” process. First, the video is a one-way feed; the business owner cannot see to whom they are providing their proprietary information. During this video call, Google has some very strange requirements. Not only do they ask to see Articles of Incorporation, Driver’s License, Business License (if applicable), proof of insurance, receipts, invoices, and business cards, they also ask the business owners to show their work vehicle, turn it on and off, and hold the vehicle registration up against the license plate, among other atypical requests to verifiy that a businesses is a business. In some cases, particularly with locksmith businesses owned by minorities, the business owners are told over the phone that they have passed the verification, but then receive an automated email from Google saying they did not pass. The email says nothing meaningful, only that “the business does not meet Google standards.”
Since Google implemented its new program called Google “Advanced Verification” in 2017, hundreds of small businesses across the United States have been systematically put out of business. People are losing their jobs, and Google is directly responsible.
The new program requires businesses to obtain special approval or verification in order to be able to advertise on Google. Part of the process requires a recorded video call, during which the business owner must show Google anything it requests to substantiate whether or not the business meets Google’s “standard.” The video is a one-way feed; the business owner cannot see to whom they are providing their proprietary information.
Not only does Google ask to see the business owner's driver’s license, it also asks to see the business’ Articles of Incorporation, applicable licensing, proof of insurance, receipts, invoices, and business cards. In some cases, when that information is not enough, Google requests that the business owner show Google the company vehicle(s), and turn the vehicle(s) on and off.
At the end of the video call, some business owners are told they have passed the verification, but then receive an automated email from Google saying they did not pass. The email says nothing meaningful, only that “the business does not meet Google standards.” When a business is disapproved, there is an option to appeal. However, the appeal process is not transparent and business owners, after already providing everything required in the video call, are at a loss for what to submit to Google next. Google offers no explanation or assistance in helping these businesses understand where they do not meet the standard.
Because gauging the legitimacy of a business can done by referring to licensing and paperwork, there is some concern that a video call does not strictly adhere to whether or not a business is truly legitimate. It is suspected that the video process might be done to caste judgement or conclusions based on ethnic background or any other details gained from a video interview that might be considered unlawfully biased.
While small, licensed businesses are being shut down, other businesses that do not display any direct legitimacy-- such as licensing--on their websites are continuing to advertise freely on Google. Some of these businesses act as brokers, gathering the jobs or leads from the internet and farming them to contactors or other businesses, but not after “taking some off the top.” Because Google is shutting down small businesses, some business owners have no choice but to go to the “broker” businesses and try to earn a living at a reduced wage.
In summary, without the capability to advertise on Google, small businesses can’t stay in business. In the meantime, “brokerage websites” continue to advertised freely on Google. The new Advanced Verification process moves beyond what is average and reasonable, and Google is not offering transparency or meaningful explanations during the approval or disapproval processes. Fully licensed and legitimate small businesses have been systematically shut down—and continue to be shut down--in 2017-2018 under the guise of Google’s Advanced Verification program.
Are you a victim? Do you want to be a part of this? You can begin by contacting us using the form below. While you wait to hear from us (within 48 hours), please create a written and detailed account of your situation. Include all relevent documentation such as emails, website, pictures, licensing etc. You may be asked to provide even more at a later time.