Do you get those automated phone calls telling you it is urgent that you update your Google listing? As a business owner, lately I am getting several of these phone calls every day. One of my favorites is the one where they tell me they have a spot reserved for me on the front page of the search engine! Search just doesn’t work that way.
These companies try to make it sound as if they are representing Google, but they are not. The truth is Google doesn’t call you. These robocalls or automated phone calls you get are actually illegal.
Just hang up.
The calls are designed to cause business owners to worry and can lead to outright scams. Because of all the complaints they have received this year from business owners, Google announced they are taking action in a California court against one search engine optimization company purporting to be affiliated with Google. In this Google and Your Business blog post, Google explains the difficulties they have in taking action because of the fake company names and untraceable phone numbers used by these scammers, and they also tell you where you can report these calls.
These scams unfortunately work because it is important for businesses to get listed on Google. Fortunately, there is a free and easy way for you to claim and control your business listing on Google.
Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map
Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map is an initiative from Google to help local businesses increase their presence online with a verified listing on Google maps. Only 37% of businesses have a claimed listing on a search engine, but 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local businesses! Google is partnering with local business organizations like Chambers of Commerce and SCORE to promote this initiative with workshops and materials. This summer we put on workshops with the Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce and Collegeville Economic Development Corporation to get businesses verified in a hands-on session. Look for more local workshops coming up, but it’s also easy to see if you are listed and get started on the website Google has set up.
Is Your Business on the Map?
To determine if you have a listing with Google, go to www.gybo.com/business and search for your company name and city.
You will get one of three results:
You’re on the Map
This means there is a verified, claimed listing. Log in with the Google account you used to create the listing and make sure your info is up to date. The site will tell you things you can do to improve your listing.
Your Business Info is Incomplete
There is a Google listing on the map, but it is not verified. You’ll want to enter your information and complete the verification process.
Your Business isn’t on the Map
There is no Google listing on the map. You’ll want to enter your information and complete the verification process.
Enter Your Business Details
To add a new listing, or claim and verify a listing, you’ll want to add as much information as possible about your business so your customers can more easily find you!
Start by adding your business address, phone number, and most importantly your business category. Choose the category that most accurately represents what you do. Later you’ll be able to add additional categories to your listing. Make sure you choose all that apply.
If you don’t serve customers at your location, click the “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” check box to ensure your personal address is hidden from the listing. For example, a plumber who goes to people’s homes would choose this option. Google’s policy is that if you don’t have a storefront or physical location where people can visit anytime during your business hours, you should check this box.
Once you have checked this box, Specify the service area in which you do business. Google will show only your city and state on the map, along with a radius circle for where you serve customers. This radius should still be a local area, not your entire state or the entire country!
Once you have entered your business information, you must go through a verification process to certify that you’re authorized to manage the business. Your verification PIN number will be sent to you via mail. Some businesses may also see the option to get their PIN via a phone call. Please be aware that your business will appear as unverified until you enter the PIN.
Google My Business
Once you have entered your business information, you will be taken to the Google My Business dashboard. From this dashboard, you can add photos and additional details about your business, share updates, view your Google Analytics, and read and respond to reviews.
Note that you can return to Google My Business at any time to continue to add new pictures and information and manage your business. To manage your account from your phone or tablet, download the Google My Business app to your IOS or Android device.
Businesses that are online grow 40% faster than those that aren’t. Claiming your listing and filling out your profile with photos, hours, categories and descriptions is one of the best actions you can take to improve your local search visibility.