Your mid morning meeting over coffee has been going great. The prospect, soon to be client, throws one last question on the table; “Can you get my business in that map thingy on the Google?” You say; “You know it!”. Shake hands, you’ve picked up a new local business client.
A few days have passed and legal matters have been tended to. Everyone has agreed to the terms and payment is now obligated. Its time to get to work. Unfortunately, you aren’t sure where to start for getting your new client’s local business profile in ‘that map thingy on the Google’. Thats where the Words Go Here team is going to help you out – with detailed instructions. Lets get started:
Local Business Center Punch List
Please, oh please, before you start claiming listings, be very sure you are using an email login for which your client owns and knows the password. Though you are uber awesome at what you do, businesses tend to change SEO vendors every so often. Making sure that their Local Business Listing (LBL) stays with them and not with you will make the breakup much easier and respectful for both parties.
We often suggest having an email alias setup on the business domain that points to the main operations person(s) within the organization. This is often the owner. (ex. email@example.com -> firstname.lastname@example.org). If this is not possible, creating a trusty gmail account will work fine. Only use a new gmail account when you have the approval of your client.
For the other details, please read the Words Go Here post Local Business Listing Guidelines. This will outline all the remaining bits and pieces of information that you should collect before getting started.
Claiming the Local Business Listing
Now its time to get down to business. Pop open a tab in your favorite browser and find your way to Google’s Local Business Center. Login in using the client owned email address. You will be greeted by ‘the form’.
(please note, client info is being masked intentionally)
The top portion is straight away, business name and address etc. When you get to the bottom of the form, you have the opportunity to assign the business to up to 5 categories. When choosing the categories, try first to match with existing categories. While there is nothing particularly wrong with creating a custom category, a single rooftop style business will typically be better served using existing categories. If you are in doubt about which categories to select, take a few minutes to explore what categories competitive businesses have chosen.
Once done with the data entry portion of this process, it is highly likely that Google will have an existing listing for your business. This existing, unclaimed listing is most often informed by local directories and the aggregation of the search engines traditional web crawl. More times than not, this is the screen that you will get:
As you can tell, Google offers you the chance to merge the information you have entered with an existing listing in their databases or to just add fresh. In this case, as is most often the case, merging is the better idea. When you click merge, a confirmation pop-up greets you:
Now you have the chance to enter additional metadata about the business you are serving. Hours of operation, parking, is pet friendly etc. Additionally, Google’s Local Business Center has been playing with an offer of pay for content for $25. This content is visual in nature, like more photos and videos to showcase the uniqueness of said business. As a general rule, we’re finding that any business that relies on a customer visiting for a positive experience will benefit from this new pay for offering.
The final step in this process is to validate the listing. The search engines have to know you are who you say you are. They do this by giving you a four (4) digit PIN number to enter. The Local Business Center offers two ways to receive the PIN.
One is by phone. They will call the main business number as listed to tell you your PIN. Be sure someone is prepared for this call on the other end. It usually sends off in about 3 seconds from the time you hit go. The awesome automated voice will tell you what you need to know.
The other is by pony express – snail mail. This seems so archaic, but it is functional. Typically when merging a listing, the search engines want to verify that you are physically where you say you are in addition to being who you say you are. Because of this, they will mail a postcard to the address as listed. Again, be sure that you have someone checking the mail and watching for a letter from Google (and the fact that it is not mail spam).
When using the mail to option, there are two screens:
The other is the description of the parcel:
At this point you are basically done. Pass your time diligently working on the other commitments for this engagement for about 2 – 3 weeks. When the PIN shows up, log back in to the Local Business Center and enter the PIN. Once complete, its on to developing local business citations to help manage their presence in the maps pack. More on that in a future post.