Start by claiming and verifying your company’s Google business listing. If you are comfortable and succesful with this process then take it further by optimizing the listing.
Let’s get started!
1. Claiming your business
Heads up about scammers
Remember that Google will never call you about your Google Business listing.
Unfortunately, there is a scam that involves people posing as Google or working with Google who offer to either boost your ranking for a fee or threaten to remove your listing if you don’t pay a fee. Just hang up – Google My Business is a free service.
There are indeed legitimate businesses that assist owners in their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a fee, but they typically do not use high-pressure cold-calling tactics.
Find your Google Business listing using GMB homepage or Maps
Method 1 – Google My Business site
Go to the Google My Business home page and log in with a google account
If you have a Gmail account associated with your business then sign in with that, or create a new Google account. A word of caution here: some of you may be already logged into your browser with a personal account, so make sure you don’t continue the process with your personal account.
When you click on Sign In you have the option to create a Google account. You do not have to create a Gmail account, you can create an account with your current business e-mail.
Note: We have recently witnessed this interesting shortcut – if your e-mail address is the same domain as your website you may get fast-tracked directly to the Google My Business dashboard, totally bypassing the verification process. For example if your business’ web address is businessname.ca and your e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org you may see this in action.
I mention it because later in this guide we will talk about the verification screen and options, something that you will not see at all if the fast-track feature affects you.
Once you are logged in, the next screen asks you to search using your business name. Chances are that it will show up in an autocomplete drop-down box. If so, select it. Remember that the results are for businesses worldwide so make sure you select the correct one!
On the next screen, standard information (name, address, phone, e-mail, etc.) will likely have the fields already populated with your information. Simply proceed until you get to the Verification screen.
Method 2 – Google Maps
Alternatively, you can use Maps to find your business. Either search for your business name and location, or zoom in on your location on the maps, click on the pin or label for your business. You should see a “Claim this business” option. Clicking on it will take you to the Google My Business site. Proceed as we mentioned earlier until you get to the Verification screen.
There are three possibilities when attempt to claim your business
1. Found and unclaimed
2. Found and already claimed: in Maps the “Claim this business” option does not appear. In this case you need to Request Access to the Google My Business Listing – follow instructions from Google (watch video)
3. Business not found: more rare but relevant to new businesses, those that have changed names, or businesses that did not have a website with their business location or contact information. In this case head over to the GMB home page, log in with a Google account related to your business (or create one), enter the name of your business and select “Create a business with this name”. In this case, the next screen will not have the fields pre-populated with your business information. Enter the details it requires until you get to the Verification screen.
2. Getting verified
Claiming is the first step, but then Google needs to confirm that you are the rightful owner of the business. You will get to a screen that offers you a choice of verification methods. The options offered to you depend on what Google has collected about your business on the internet or by user suggestions. The postcard option is the default method which always appears.
If you are fortunate to have the e-mail, call, or text options, they are by far the fastest way to get verified, typically with 5 minutes of clicking the button. So if you select Phone be ready for a call right away. If you miss it you have the option to send again. The most popular method is the postcard which takes up to 12 days to arrive at the stated business address.
Getting the code/card
Once you receive the card (example below) or you get the verification code (typically a six digit number) you enter it at the website mentioned or return to the Google My Business page and log in with the same Google Business account.
You will then have access to the Google My Business Dashboard for your business. Bravo! You now control your business’ information on Google!
3. The GMB Dashboard
Once you have claimed your business and gotten verified, you then have access to the Google Business Dashboard. It is from here that you control the information about your business.
Note: Depending on your browser, the left menu may be hidden. You have to click on the hamburger icon to make it appear and have access to the different tabs.
The content in the Dashboard Home page that we see here is very good at guiding you in the steps you need to take for Google to “like” your GMB listing, which can directly affect ranking in Google Search results. Look over the content of the Home page, then explore all the tabs to see what’s there.
You should start with the Info tab first since it contains all the basic information about your business.
[more details about the fields in the Info tab from Google – scroll down to the “Types of edits” section]
That’s it. I hope you were successful.
If you had problems, want to get more details, or wish to delve a little deeper into Google My Business, check out the Detailed Guide.