Claiming Your Listings
Claiming any listing of your business online verifies that you are the owner of a valid business and authorized to maintain its presence on the web. Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing. This article provides a general picture of what you can expect to experience during the claiming process at most local business indexes.
Most entities will first ask you to determine whether your business already exists in their index. Don't be surprised if it does, even if you've never created a listing there! Unless your business opened its doors today, chances are, there is some record of its existence on the web. In general, you'll be prompted to enter your business name or phone number to discover any existent listings.
Next, you'll review any existing information, correct any incorrect information, and provide any new or missing information about your business name, address, phone number, website address, business categories, and other details. This is when accuracy and consistency really count! Remember: You want your core business details (name, address, phone, website) to be identical on every listing.
Once you've filled out your business's information, you'll be asked to go through a verification process. This typically happens in one of three ways:
- Via an immediate phone call during which you'll verify via a pin number
- Via a postal mail postcard and pin number verification
- Via an email in which you'll be clicking on a verification link
If you are verifying via postcard, alert all staff members who retrieve mail to be on the lookout for the postcard. These typically arrive within a couple of weeks, but are rather plain and small. You don't want them to get lost! Check your mail carefully each day.
The time between completing verification and seeing your listing appear online varies widely from search engine to search engine. In some cases, your listing will be live in a matter of days or even minutes, but other local search engines have a lengthy manual review process, meaning that it can take several months for your listing to be approved for publication. While you wait, resist the urge to make any further changes to your submitted listings; this will only cause problems. Just be patient and check from time to time to see whether your business has gained full inclusion.
In certain indexes, such as Google Places/Google+ Local, any future changes to core data such as the business name or phone number may trigger the need to re-verify. However, you can typically edit things like business descriptions and photos without any need to go through the verification process again.
The verification process is easier at some search engines than others. If you're setting out to claim many listings at once, you may want to create a simple spreadsheet that helps you keep track of your efforts and progress with each listing you're creating and/or claiming.