Last week I wrote about the new Foursquare 3.0 updates and all of the cool goodness business owners can take advantage of to attract and keep customers at their location, but if you're new to location-based services like Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook Places and even Google Maps you might be wondering how to get started with managing your business on these websites. The first and most-important step is to claim your business! It's free, it's easy, and before you know it you'll be up and running which lets people check-in and review to their hearts content. Let's get started with Google Maps
Claim Your Google Maps Location
For search engine optimization purposes the first place you should claim your business is Google Maps. If you have properly claimed your business, when folks search for it on Google they'll get an awesome map call-out with more details that'll help them get there quicker than ever. So how do you claim your Google Maps location? It's simple!
The first thing you need to do is check and see if your business is already listed on Google Maps. The easiest way to do this is to visit Google Maps and search for your business. If your location is shown, click on the marker, select the "more" link with the down arrow next to it, and click the "Edit details" button. If you are directed to a page that lets you edit your location's details you know that it hasn't been claimed yet. Alternatively, if you see a box like the one below, you or somebody else has already claimed this location!
From the page that lets you edit the location's details, you'll see a box like the one to the right. Click the "claim your business" link to get started. You'll be presented with three options, all of which will require validation via a PIN sent via a letter (that's right, traditional snail mail style!). The options are:
- Edit my business information
As you would expect, this lets you claim and edit the business information and locks out other people from making changes pending validation. This is the option you'll more than likely want to use if the address looks correct.
- Suspend the listing
This option will remove the listing from Google Maps, pending validation. You can return later to re-activate it, but a suspended listing won't be visible to people searching Google Maps data.
- This is not my listing
If your business is listed but the details are incorrect (for example, if the address is wrong) this option will create a new listing to use for your business from which you can insert the correct information.
Adding a Google Maps Business Listing
If you didn't find your business when you searched for it on Google Maps you'll want to create a new listing. You can do this by visiting the Google Places homepage and clicking the Get Started button. Follow the prompts on screen to list and claim your business.
Beefing Up Your Listing
Okay, you have control of your Google Maps listing, now it's time to take advantage of the features and options Google provides to make it easy for people searching for you to find more information about your location. The first and easiest thing to do is fill out all of the details for your location. Insert the phone number, website address, hours of operation and if you're a retail location the sorts of payment you accept. Select the category that best fits your business as this helps with search keywords. Maybe someone doesn't know the exact name of your business but they're looking to make a purchase in your category - you wouldn't want to miss out on a new customer! Finally, be sure to include as many meaningful photos of the location, as this will help customers find you more easily!
Finally, if it applies you can even create special coupons for your location through Google Maps. After claiming your business, login to your Google Places account and visit the Coupons tab. Once your coupon is finished and saved, it'll be displayed alongside your listing in Google Maps - now potential customers have yet another reason to visit you!
- Step 1: Visit maps.google.com and search for your business. If it's found, proceed to Step 2, otherwise refer to the information above to create your listing.
- Step 2: Click the pin on the map showing your business, click the More dropdown and click Edit Details.
- Step 3: If you are able to edit the details your business hasn't been claimed yet. Click the claim your business link under the Are you the business owner? heading to initiate the business verification process. If the business is already claimed you can report a problem to reclaim your business given the proper verification process.