A lot of people create local search profiles, start optimizing, start gathering reviews, and start overhauling their websites but they neglect one simple thing – they forget to check if their data is actually correct in those local portals. It’s a huge problem and even some major corporations have been punished because of it.
What do I mean by “accurate data”? It’s the address, phone number, business name, and map location that are populated in Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, or Mapquest. A lot of the time, this data is added by people well before you take your business online. It might have been skimmed from phone book and online directory listings or it could have been added by one of your customers. In some cases, it’s wrong because it was never updated after a move.
Whatever the case, having data in the local search engines that doesn’t match your website is a big no-no. It can sink your optimization efforts a few times over. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix.
Claiming Your Business
First, you need to claim your business. Just because you appear in Google Maps doesn’t mean the listing is official. To claim your business, all you need to do is search for it in Google Maps. Once the listing pops up, click on the “more details button” and go to “edit listing”.
On the right side of the screen, you’ll find a box that asks “Are you the business owner?” Click the “Claim your business” link and you’ll be taken to the Google Places interface where you can start the claims process.
You can then choose to edit the listing and add your own data to it. You’ll need to validate your listing with a mailing or phone call, but it’s a pretty self-explanatory process.
Claiming Your Business Everywhere
It may seem like a lot of work, but once you’ve claimed your business, it’s pretty much done. You can go back into the Google Places interface and make edits, add coupons, or change your description, but overall it’s done – the information is now in your control.
But, keep in mind that there are a dozen different services out there that could have incorrect data. You should claim as many of those accounts as possible on sites like Yelp, Yahoo!, Bing, Mapquest, and Local Pages, but you should also create a listing in Acxiom, Localeze, and infoUSA where a lot of online data is skimmed from. You can update your listings here regularly to make sure everything remains accurate.
Finally, make sure your data is accurate and standardized on your website. If the phone number is written as (555) 555-5555, write it the same on all of your profiles so it matches up in search listings.