It’s a Real MUST to Claim Your Local Business Listings
IF YOU’RE building and managing your local business listings manually, you’ll need to go through a claiming process for most of them.
Claiming a listing online verifies that you’re the owner of a valid business and are authorized to maintain its presence on the web.
Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing. We’ll provide a general picture of what you can expect to experience during the claiming process for most local business indexes.
- Most places will first ask whether your business already exists in their index. Don’t be surprised if it does, even if you’ve never created a listing there! Unless your business opened its doors today, chances are there’s some record of its existence on the web. A listing of your company may have resulted from the process via which data flows from one platform to another. In general, you’ll be prompted to enter your business name or phone number to discover any existing listings.
Next, you’ll review any existing information, fix incorrect information, and provide any new or missing information about your business name, address, phone number, website address, business categories, and other details. Remember: You want your core business details (name, address, phone, website) to be as consistent as possible on every listing.
Once you’ve filled out your business’s information, you’ll be asked to go through a verification process. This typically happens in one of three ways:
- Via an immediate phone call, during which you’ll verify using a pin number
- Via a postal mail postcard and pin number verification
- Via an email in which you’ll be clicking on a verification link
If you’re verifying via postcard, alert all staff members who retrieve mail to be on the lookout for the postcard. These typically arrive within a couple of weeks, but are rather plain and small. You don’t want them to get lost! Check your mail carefully each day.
The time between completing verification and seeing your listing appear online varies widely from platform to platform. In some cases, your listing will be live in a matter of days or even minutes, but other indexes have a lengthy manual review process, meaning that it can take several months for your listing to be approved for publication. While you wait, don’t make any further changes to your submitted listings. This will help you avoid additional delays. Just be patient and check from time to time to see whether your listing is live.
In certain indexes (such as Google My Business), any future changes to core data such as the business name or phone number may trigger the need to re-verify. However, you can typically edit fields like business descriptions and photos without having to go through the verification process again.
The Dos and Don’ts Of Local Business Listing Claiming
If you’re manually managing all of your local business listings, do keep track of them in a detailed spreadsheet that includes dates submitted, email/password use, status, links, and anything else you need to know to quickly find the listing again whenever necessary.
While it’s fine to have a staff member or third-party consultant create and manage your listings for you, don’t enter into an arrangement in which someone is claiming your listings under any account other than the account of the business. For example, Jim’s Plumbing Co. shouldn’t authorize ABC Marketing, Inc. to claim the plumber’s Google My Business listing under firstname.lastname@example.org’s Google account. Should the relationship between the plumber and the agency end, Jim may find that he doesn’t control his local business listings and can’t manage them — a situation that should be avoided at all costs.
Don’t confusing claiming with owning. While claiming validates that you have the right to manage a listing on a platform, you don’t own that listing — the platform owns it. They maintain the right to take the listing down if they feel it violates guidelines, to filter out reviews if they’re deemed untrustworthy, and to approve public/community edits to the listing’s data, all without the business owner’s approval. While this may not be ideal, it’s important to know that your listing on a third party’s platform is their content, not yours.
Until next time… Onwards and Upwards!
If you want to talk about claiming your local business listings, give John a call 0414 955 743 – advice is totally free of charge.