How to claim your Google My Business listing

( And why you should definitely do it )

Many business owners don’t know that they can (and should) claim their business’s listing in the local Google search results. If there is only one thing that you should do to improve your internet presence, then this is it!

The platform called ‘Google My Business’ provides not only a way to control how Google presents your business to the world but also a way to keep on-going communication with your existing and prospective clients and customers.

Compared to any other investment of your time and attention, related to promoting your business online (such as creating a website, social accounts, paid ads, etc), Google My Business is by far the cheapest (free) and the most effective platform that will bring more people to your door.

Google My Business has a very rich interface and includes many features that are typically needed by businesses that rely on local traffic for their sales. You can create posts with your featured and promotional offers, include pictures and videos of your products and services, respond to reviews, post your hours of operation, etc, etc.

On the technical side, you can be proactive in helping Google understand your business better, by selecting the main and the secondary business categories and the relevant keywords. Otherwise, Google will categorize your business based on the information that it receives from its bots, its algorithm and social chatter, which is not always accurate.

How to check the status of your listing

Image depicting a Google search result with an unclaimed listing link circled in red outline

Click to zoom in
First of all, you should check how Google currently displays your listing.
Go to google.com and enter the name of your business and the city. If that’s not specific enough, enter the city area and the actual address.
Google will usually display several results in the main column, and a special sidebar, called ‘knowledge panel’, to the right. See the included image. Click on it to zoom in.
(If you don’t see a knowledge panel in the sidebar, this may mean that Google doesn’t know anything about your business, even though it will display search results in the main column. It may also mean that Google doesn’t ‘think’ that your business has a physical location, but is entirely Web-based.)
In the knowledge panel, look for the link (circled in red on the included image) that says “Own this business?”. It could also say: “Claim this Business”.
This means that your business’s listing has not been claimed and verified by Google. It also means that anyone can click on it and at least attempt to claim it.

If instead of “Own this business?” or “Claim this Business” the link says anything else, it means that your business has been successfully claimed.
If it wasn’t you (or you just forgot about it), it could have been an employee, a co-worker – or just about anyone else, and it is worth looking into. You may need to start a process to reclaim your listing.

If you see “Own this business?” link, click on it and follow the instructions provided by Google.

You will need to log into your Google (Gmail) account or create it if you don’t have one. This account will be used by Google – as the main contact for the listing.

During the initial setup, you will provide the information about your business, such as the business name, address, etc.
This will initiate the verification process, which consists of Google sending you what they call a post-card (it’s actually an envelope), with a special code that you will then use to verify your listing within Google My Business platform.

It may take up to 2 weeks before you receive the postcard and can complete the verification process.

Important Tips

The 3 most important pieces of information related to your business that you provide to Google during the setup are:
1. Your Business Name (N)
2. Address (A)
3. Phone Number (P)

Collectively, they are often called NAP Citation (Name/Address/Phone).

You need to make sure that these 3 are entered exactly as they are to be found in other places that Google may find your business online (such as your website, various directory listings, etc).
This is very important to be done right – from the beginning. This information can be difficult to change afterwards and even the little things, like typing ‘St.’ instead of ‘Street’ can trip Google up – so it may not recognize your business’s overall internet presence properly.

Also, you need to pick the Business Category that your business will be filed under carefully. This too can be difficult to change later. The names of categories are pre-defined by Google and there may be a particular category that describes your business best – which may not be the one that Google would assign to your business automatically.

Especially during the initial steps, it is very important to set things up properly.
If you need help setting up, configuring and populating the listing and to receive training from an experienced Google My Business partner Agency, get in touch with us. We have affordable plans that will get your listing up and running fast. They can be found  HERE
And last, but not least: There can be only one primary owner of a business listing. There can be several secondary owners, but only the primary owner can create or close a listing and can assign or invite third parties (such as our Agency) to be the listing managers. The manager role has just enough access, to be able to work on the listing within the Google My Business interface and to optimize and post content, hopefully in a systematic and consistent manner, and hopefully will know what they are doing.

In other words, make sure that you are in control of your listing, and that you know who has access to it. Google My Business is your (very important) internet property, that effectively controls how your business is presented to the world. Treat it as such and you will reap long-term benefits.

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