One of the most important steps in a local SEO strategy is to claim, verify and optimize your Google My Business listing. The process is fairly straightforward, and you can get started by going to Google.com/business. However, you may discover that the listing was already verified by someone else.
This can be alarming if you’re the business owner and don’t know who this individual is. Fortunately, Google provides instructions on how to move forward. If someone else claimed your Google My Business Listing, you’ll need to find out who owns it and submit a transfer ownership request. Follow these tips to get started.
Step One: Ask Around
The listing could have been verified by someone you know, but without your knowledge. Reach out to anyone who’s had a hand in your marketing efforts to see if they have access to it, such as current and former employees or agency vendors. If so, have them transfer ownership of the listing to you.
Step Two: Guess the Email
If the person who claimed your listing is a former employee or colleague, you may be able to gain ownership if you can still access their company email account.
After clicking Request Ownership, select Yes, but I’ve forgotten my username or password, and continue until you reach the password reset page. Then, enter any suspected individual’s old company email. If you’re lucky, you’ll correctly guess the account that owns your listing and can transfer it yourself!
Step Three: Follow Google’s Instructions
If you’re unable to contact the person who claimed your listing, or guess their email address, Google will attempt to request ownership on your behalf.
Fill out the provided form, and wait at least one week for the current listing owner to respond. In the meantime, you should familiarize yourself with the Google My Business guidelines.
Bonus Tip: Twitter Support
Google recently created a Twitter account, @googlemybiz, dedicated to answering questions about Google My Business. Some in the local SEO industry have reported receiving better support from Google through Twitter than by phone. Consider this for any additional challenges with your Google My Business listing.
Last Step: Optimize your Listing
A well-optimized Google My Business listing is crucial to being found in the local search results. Heed the following tips to get the most visibility out of your listing:
- Read advice directly from Google about to how to improve your local rankings.
- Display a local phone number instead of an 800 number.
- If you’re a service-area business, one that travels to customers such as a plumber, hide your address and designate the geographic area that you serve.
- Don’t over-optimize the Introduction field. It’s not visible in the local results. In fact, Google may generate its own description of your business.
- Choose categories that best describe your overall business model, instead of attempting to list every product or service you provide.
- Upload high quality images. Any photos you upload may be shown in the local results.
Google My Business is not, however, the only listing that matters. After successfully claiming ownership, be sure to perform a citation audit of all important business directory listings.
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