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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Google Places Directory: How To Claim Your Google Places Listing

I recently received an email from a blog visitor who astutely pointed out that I had never covered the beginning of the process.  Obviously, it is kind of hard to understand all the detailed inner workings of Google Places if you have not been able to find your business and claim it.

First, let's define CLAIM.  Almost all local search engines and directories (same thing to me.  I like to just call all of them LSE's), buy or otherwise acquire lists of businesses from various sources.  So when you try to find your listing for a Hair Salon or Barber Shop on YellowPages or Yahoo.local or here at Google Places, you might find that there is information about you appearing and you didn't do anything to cause that to happen.  When you find a listing of this type and you have not "signed up" with that LSE, then your listing is fair game.

By fair game, I mean that in many cases any member of the public can add to, subtract from, or change your listing.  This might be friend or foe.  You can well imagine the ways that your competitor or any other enemy might alter your listing for their benefit.  AND anyone can claim your listing.  They can say that they are the owner.  Now, each LSE has different ways to try and keep an interloper from claiming what is rightfully yours.  However, the best way to solve that is to claim it yourself.

There are two ways to do this.  Step one in the process is to look your business up on Google Maps.  Type in your business type and city (see first image below for Bakery Pomona) or business name and city (see second images below).  You will get a map most of the time.  If you see your name, click on more information if that is showing or reviews if not.  If you are not already listed, skip way down on this post to see what to do to create a new listing.

You will now get a screen that looks like this

And you will note the location that ask if you are the owner.  Please note it also offers an opportunity to edit if you aren't the owner.  Once you claim the listing, this offer goes away.

Once you click on this "Business Owner" link you will now find yourself on a partially filled out form that will look like the below image.

Go ahead and fill in the spaces.  I will not repeat all the recommendations here with regard to how to fill in each of these blanks.  Just let me say that even the Name of your company is critical.  The address, phone number, category and description all matter.  So please read the Blogger pages in the left hand column or watch the video tutorials or both before filling in these blanks. 

After you have filled out the first part of the form, it will look something like this.  Note that I have just begun to fill in the category section, and it shows a drop down menu for selecting choices that Google suggests.  Always choose one of Google's ideas for your first category.

The rest of the process is self explanatory.   Now let's take a look at the other way that you can add a new listing or find an existing listing.  This begins by typing this url into your address bar

You will get a screen that looks like this.

When you click on Add business in Google Maps, you will either go directly to a set up page if you have a Google Account or you will be prompted to set up a Google Account.  Setting up the account is easy, so I won't cover that here.  Once you have a Google Account, start this process again, and you will get the following screen

If you are new to Google, you may not have this many items, but find Google Places and click on that.  You will now go back to the screen that offers you the same form to fill in.  Of course, this time it will be completely blank.  When you complete the form as far as I took you in the example above and you click on continue, you may get a screen that says Google thinks you already exist.  If you get this screen take a look at the options and select the obvious one.

When you have completed the entire form, you will be offered the opportunity to submit.  After pressing that, you will have a choice of postcard or phone (most of the time.  Sometimes you will get only postcard.  See my post on this.)  If you choose phone, you will get a series of prompts that will allow you to complete the process.

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