Today we have a guest post from David Hunter of ASAPMaps & Epic Web Studios. The flow chart he shares at the end of the article is an amazing resource to have so be sure to bookmark this article and refer back often!
Google My Business is the free business listing platform that works with Google Maps and requires the business owner to submit verification if they want to manage the listing. The amount of unverified GMB listings is staggering, hovering around 50% as recently as 2017. To help navigate the sometimes-confusing process of Google My Business listing verification, my team and I created a flowchart that anyone from novice to seasoned marketing professional can use. We use this internally at ASAPmaps every day, and if you’re interested in how to optimize Google My Business listings this flowchart can help you to get started. Many thanks to Google Top Contributors and Local Search Experts Ben Fisher and Joy Hawkins for offering a few very wise edits and vetting the accuracy of the flowchart.
Should a business bother with Google My Business Listings?
Local search results are a massive component of both the present and the future of search. If you want your business to remain visible, it’s critical to stay on top of your GMB listings. Notable expert and LocalU Faculty member David Mihm presented an excellent argument for the importance and future of The Local Marketing Stack, which includes Google My Business during 2018’s LocalU Advanced in Austin, Texas. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should bother with Google My Business as well as a few reasons why I think you aren’t doing it already.
Why you should care about GMB Verification
Google is absorbing nearly two trillion searches every single year. Even half of this, one trillion, is a number so large that it’s difficult for me to comprehend. I wanted to find a way to make it tangible and figured it would be easier if I used time as a comparison. Almost everyone can understand what “one second” feels like. How long is one trillion seconds? Hint: it’s a long time! Just one trillion seconds ago, it was the year 27,000 B.C.
Almost half of the two trillion searches are coming from a mobile device, and roughly half of those mobile device searches (just a cool 500,000,000,000.) include local intent in their query. Local intent means local search results, which means Google Maps, which means Google My Business listings.
It stands to reason that Google My Business, the free business listing tool that works with Google Maps, is one of the most important platforms a business can use when managing a web presence in 2018.
As of today, there are only 3 slots available for local search results to appear on Google.com. This is changing, too, because in just a few years, most search results will come via voice search. That typically means just one result. While proximity is still one of the very top factors as to why your listing appears, having an unverified listing is one of the very top factors as to why it does not.
Why you’re not bothering with GMB Verification
Why does Google still seemingly struggle with educating business owners on the importance of claiming and managing their Google My Business listings? My guess is a big part of this relates to verification issues like ownership conflicts, duplicate listings and more which can frustrate just about anyone. The best way to fix a GMB verification problem is by methodically following the proper steps to identify the problem before you can begin to uncover the solution. Let’s jump in.
You'll notice the first step of the process is to own a Google Account. This is easy enough to accomplish by going to Google.com, tapping “Sign in” and then “Create Account”. After that, the chart asks whether you have a business listing - and no matter the answer - you'll be sent into what we call the "Deep Search" portion of the flowchart.
When adding, claiming, and verifying your business listings, it’s important to do some research before you begin. A deep search starts with uncovering the existence of all variations in your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) on Google Maps. Deep searches for your NAP can oftentimes reveal a wealth of unknown data about your organization. For example, if your business has moved then there’s a very good chance some old address information is hanging around on the web. This conflicting data tends to become quite confusing to Google Maps. That’s why a deep search is crucial to confirm your listing is in good shape and ready to be optimized.
This process is not exactly “difficult”, but it can become tedious and it requires an acute attention to detail. For most listings, you should plan on spending about 60 minutes of searching and logging data to get a clear picture of where your listing stands. The green box in the flowchart graphic details several potential ways to uncover listing data.
After your research is complete, moving through the rest of the flowchart is fairly simple. You’ll notice only a few roadblocks along the way - and those are mainly dedicated to stopping spammers. No one loves spam business listings, and even making an attempt to create them nowadays will land you in hot water with Google.
For those of you who are not spammers, there are about six different directions the flowchart can take you depending on the outcome of your research. If you only found one listing and it’s not claimed, all you need to do is claim and verify to complete. Other times, it’s a much more complex scenario when you can uncover things like more than one GMB listing for more than one location that are already verified by someone with whom you are unfamiliar and believe to be squatting on your listing.
No matter the situation, there’s a process to resolve it. Sometimes this involves the help of Google Support, which is often where folks get held up. The Google My Business support team, however, works diligently every single day to make sure folks can gain rightful access to their listings. Staying on top of this multi-day process of back-and-forth emails can sometimes feel overwhelming, but I’ve found setting a simple calendar reminder to check back in on the issue can make a big difference towards timely resolution. The reason a lot of these issues can not be handled with one phone call or email is because there are often other parties involved (former business owners, marketing agencies, parent companies, etc) and they need to accept or reject listing management requests. Google is very fair for all involved, and that means giving folks a reasonable amount of time to respond to requests.
After you’ve successfully verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to start using the platform! There are ample ways to make the most of your Google My Business listing with more features being added regularly. The process of managing your business listings is not too difficult, either. I like to think Google My Business is just like everything else in life: you get out what you put in. Make the effort to help your Google My Business listings shine. In the end, you can be rewarded with more visibility in local search, more phone calls, increased foot traffic and requests for driving directions, more website visits, and ultimately more revenue for your business.
You can snag a high-res PDF of the GMB flowchart here.
David Hunter is the managing partner of ASAPmaps, a business listing optimization tool that automatically updates your Google My Business listings every single week. ASAPmaps was built by Epic Web Studios, a web development and digital marketing firm with over a decade of experience managing GMB listings.