First of all let’s talk about why it’s important.
Google optimises for local search very differently than it does for broad national searches. With Broad search terms you’re more likely to see a Google top 10 full of major brands and generally speaking those companies with the clout and resource to put serious amount of time and effort into SEO.
However, if you’re a local business with a physical location then it’s a different ball game.
You’ll very often see a Google Map brought back for local searches and in lots of cases you don’t even have to type in the name of the town or city to see one of these maps.
Google tries to interpret your intent or the reason behind your search and if it deems you’re looking for a local supplier it will very often give you local results which may or may not include the map.
Whichever way you look at it, being prominent in the map means that you get great visibility so claiming and optimising your google local business listing is really important.
The easiest way to see if Google thinks you exist is to go to Google and search for your company name, if you see something like this it’ll be quite obvious that Google knows about you, by clicking on the Google+ link below your listing (highlighted in the image) Google will tell you what it knows about you.
This is when you’ll get a very good idea of whether the information the search engine knows about you is accurate or not.
No matter how good the information is about you you’ll almost certainly want to change some of it and update it, this is where the fun begins!
First you’ll have to verify with Google that you own the business and there are generally 2 ways of doing this.
1. Make sure you are signed in to your Google account
2. Go to https://plus.google.com
3. Go to the top right of the screen and click your profile picture and here you’ll get a drop down of the Google+ pages under your profile
4. If there’s nothing there, head back over to the left of the screen and click “Home”
5. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see “Pages”
6. Then click “Get Your Page”
If Google has your business phone number displayed correctly you can verify by phone. This is easy as you get an automated phone call giving you a 5 digit PIN, this number you then type into the field on the screen in front of you.
If however, you’re setting up a page from scratch, Google will want to send you a postcard containing a pin, in this instance you have no choice but to wait the 2-3 weeks for the PIN to arrive, once it does you go back to the profile you’ve set up and enter the PIN to verify you’re who you say you are!
Once you’ve done that, then you can start adding circles and posting your content to your Google+ account and getting visibility within the map results. By the way, this is called the pack and you can see almost any number of businesses here up to 10.
It may sound a bit of a challenge but it’s well worth is a claiming your google local business listing is a must for you to get visibility locally.