Does Your Business Appear on Google Maps?
I have new neighbors! Ashley and Steve, moved into the house next door about a month ago. They’re a nice, young couple that moved to Bend, Oregon so Steve could pursue his career as a river guide.
This past weekend, they decided to start a vegetable garden. After spending a couple of days watching how the sunlight moved across their backyard, they found the perfect spot. Ashley decided that raised beds were the way to go, so she and Steve sat down and created a shopping list. Since this is the first time either of them has attempted to grow, well… anything, they’re going to need to buy a lot of stuff. Lumber, screws, a shovel, a trowel, seeds or starts, fertilizer, soil, wire cloth to keep the critters from digging in from the bottom, and landscape fabric to discourage weeds from coming out the top. As they work through the details, the list grows longer and longer. Turns out that building raised beds is a big project.
Being new to the city, they haven’t had a chance to figure out where all the hardware stores are located. Steven picks up his phone, opens his Google Maps app, and asks his phone for the location of the nearest hardware store. Five minutes later the two of them, and their shopping list, are barreling down the street, on their way to spend a considerable sum to complete their project.
More people are learning how to use Google Maps on their mobile device or desktop computer to help them find the goods and services they need. Google Maps will show you all the options in your immediate area and the fastest route to the store of your choice. It’s especially useful to people new to an area like my neighbors and people that know where to go often use Google Maps to discover new places to shop.
If people are searching for the services you provide, will your business appear on Google Maps?
Let’s Find Out — Google Yourself!
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you are sitting at a desktop computer. The following experiment will work no matter what type of device you are currently using.
Go to Google Maps. A map will open in your web browser to show a view of your current location and the surrounding area.
In the search box in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, enter a general term that a customer might use to describe your business type and your city. If Steven had been on a desktop computer, he probably would have typed in,
“Hardware Stores, Bend, Oregon.” If you have a business that sells to pet owners, you might type in “Pet Supplies” or “Pet Stores” in [your city].
Here’s and example. I did a search for “Software Companies, Bend, Oregon.”
Notice how Paladin Data Corporation appears on the map along with other software companies in the area. A column appears on the left-hand side of the window with a little snippet of data about each company.
If you click on the snippet of text about Paladin in that left-hand column, it expands to show the address, phone number, website, and hours of operation. This is valuable information for retailers and their customers.
Try a search for your business. How did you do? Did your business show up?
Mobile Search is Big and Getting Bigger
At the Google Performance Summit in May 2016, Google shared some amazing statistics about mobile searches.
- Of the trillions of searches on Google, over half of those searches happen on smartphones.
- Almost a third of all mobile searches on Google are related to location.
- Location-related mobile searches are growing 50% faster than mobile searches in general. (Inc. Magazine)
Since so many people are doing searches on their mobile devices, you want to be sure your business appears on Google Maps and that the info about your business is correct.
My Business is There!
Good news! Just like the earlier example, your business appears on Google Maps along with some information in the left column. By clicking on the listing in the left-hand column, a larger, more detailed view about your business will reveal itself.
Is the information accurate? If it is, you’re off to a great start.
Claim Your Business (Optional, but a really good idea.)
Claiming your business has a lot of benefits for you as a business owner.
Google interprets a claim as someone taking responsibility for the business. To Google, responsibility equals credibility. This added credibility improves your search ranking.
In addition to the added credibility, you’ll also gain some control over some of the data that’s displayed to the world about your business. You’ll be able to add an image or logo and update inaccurate information. If something changes, like your phone number or address, you can update the information quickly so customers can continue to find you.
Claiming your business also prevents competitors, pranksters, or people with bad intent from doing things with your listing that could hurt your search ranking or damage your online reputation.
Here’s How to Claim Your Business:
In that large box on the left-hand side of the screen with the detailed information about your business, you may see a little shield with a check mark in that says, “Claim this business”.
You’ll be prompted to create a “Google My Business” account. To learn how to, continue reading to the next section.
What if My Business ISN’T Listed?
Well, you can fix that! Like the people that are claiming their business, you’ll need to create an account on Google My Business. Let’s get started.
Click the link to Google My Business.
2. Click the green “Start Now” button.
Welcome to the “Sign in” window. Since we don’t already have an account, this window won’t be too useful. Clicking on “More options” will bring up a second menu allowing you to create an account.
3. Choose “Create account” from the options below.
4. Enter your information.
If you have a Gmail account, you can use that as your email address. If not, use the email address you have. You’ll be fine either way.
As you fill out the various fields you’ll be given helpful messages as you fill out the form.
5. Agree and continue.
Once you’ve finished the form you’ll be asked to agree to the Privacy and Terms agreement.
You can either assemble your legal team to weigh out your options or click “I Agree” and move on.
6. Verify your account.
Next, you’ll be asked to verify your account. Google does this to make sure that you are a real person and not a piece of sophisticated software used by spammers.
When you click “Continue” you’ll receive an automated phone call or a text message depending on the choice you made in the window above. In the message, you’ll be given a six-digit verification code to type into the following screen.
Despite my best efforts, I had to use a mobile device (cell phone) to receive this message. Google wouldn’t verify over a landline. Once you get the call or text message, you’ll be prompted to enter the verification code into the space provided.
7. Verify your email address
The last screen asks you to verify your email address. This one is easy. Go to your email inbox and wait.
In a few minutes, an email will appear in your inbox.
Click on the blue text that starts “https://accounts.google, etc.” and you will be treated to the final screen.
8. Complete the final steps.
Whew! All Set. Now, let’s click on the blue box, “Continue to Google My Business”, and complete the final steps needed to get your business to appear on Google Maps.
9. The moment you’ve been waiting for…
It’s time to enter the basic information about your business. This will be shared with potential customers when your business appears on Google Maps.
I’m going to enter information for “Harry’s Hamster Heaven” here in Bend, to take you through the sign-up process.
You’ll be given prompts along the way to help you fill in the form.
When you finish, click the “Continue” button at the bottom of the page and keep going.
10. Confirm your business info.
All that’s left to do is confirm that the information you entered is correct, click on the checkbox to acknowledge you are the person managing this listing, and click the blue “Continue” button.
11. And finally…
On the following screen, Google will offer to send you a postcard with a PIN number (Personal Identification Number) you’ll use to verify that you are the right person to edit and manage the Google My Business account.
Once the postcard arrives, log back into your Google My Business account and enter the number on the card in the space provided. Verification by postcard can take up to two weeks.
Other Verification Options
You may have figured out that “Harry’s Hamster Heaven” is a total fabrication created to help put together this article. Harry’s doesn’t have a valid website or phone number. (The address is a vacant lot.) Even if Harry’s was legit, the lack of any verifiable information on the internet might be why a postcard is the only option I was given to verify the business. If your business has a web page or has been around a while, you will likely get the option to verify your business over the phone or via email. These options will get things moving along more quickly. If either is offered to you when you get to the verification stage, take it!
You’ve Done It!
By signing up for you Google My Business account, you’ve shown Google that you are taking control of you listing and increasing your credibility, which will improve your search ranking. You’ll also be able to update information about your business so customers can continue to find you. Now, you’ll be able to update you listing if you decide to expand to a larger building, extend you hours, or add a website. Well Done!
If all goes well, your business should start popping up on searches within a month after completing the verification process, possibly sooner. Google uses this time to match the information you’ve entered in your Google My Business account with other resources on the internet.
After going through this entire process, there is a possibility your business won’t appear on Google Maps. There could be many reasons for this, but the most likely one is conflicting information on the internet about your business.
If Google finds several different phone numbers, addresses, or a conflict with your business name, it won’t stop and try to figure out the problem. It won’t stop to tell you what’s wrong, either. Google just shrugs its shoulders and moves on to the next thing. It will be up to you to clean up the inaccurate data that’s getting in the way.
To find out how to clean up the information, use the button below to download our free Business Search Checklist. This checklist shows you how to find sites that may already be listing your business and the steps you’ll take to make sure the information is accurate.
It might sound intimidating but if you’ve registered your business with Google My Business, you’ve lived through the most difficult part. It gets easier, if not a little repetitive, from here on out. By the time you’re done, you’ll be really, really, good at this!
So, grab your favorite hot beverage and a bear claw, download our free checklist and get started.