Claiming and setting up local profiles is an important branding activity that has tremendous SEO value. Most websites that offer local business listings follow the same listing process, with a few points of differences here and there.
Last year I took on the position of Director of Marketing at Ogle School, a .EDU that has over 8 locations in the Texas area. As you can imagine, local SEO is incredibly important (as is local social) so claiming, setting up, managing and updating all of the local listings for our school is quite a task.
This article will take you through the process of claiming and setting up local profiles across diverse online platforms, and help them get a better idea about what they need to do to connect with local customers. I’ve put together tactics and tips for Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Yahoo Local, ChamberofCommerce.com and Yelp.
Let’s start with the Big Daddy of them all – Google+ Local. The local pages on Google+ Local closely resemble company Facebook Pages — they interact with Google Maps, Zagat reviews, and Google+. But the really sweet deal is that your local pages will be indexed by search engines.
Step 1: Create a Google Places Listing
It all begins at https://plus.google.com/local. Sign in with your Google username and password, which will take you to the Google Places dashboard.
Select your country and enter your phone number. If you already have a Google Places listing, make sure that you enter the phone number that’s on your listing. You will then need to enter your business details. Fill in all the details and submit.
Step 2: Verify Listing
You will now come to the verification page. You can choose how the verification PIN will be sent to you — whether by phone, SMS or postcard. If you choose ‘By Phone’, you will need to enter your mobile phone number and choose your carrier. Once you are done, click on ‘Finish’ and your phone will ring within minutes. You will receive an automated message that will reveal to you your PIN. In case of new businesses with a brand new phone number, the ‘Postcard’ should be the preferred choice. Once you receive the PIN, enter it in the required field to create a verified Google Places Listing.
*If you don’t receive a PIN the first time, you can request another through your Google Places dashboard.
Step 3: Google+ Local Listing
For this you will first need a Google+ Profile. To get one, go to https://plus.google.com/
You must now create a Google+ Local Page by clicking on the tab and choosing the ‘Local Business’ or ‘Place’ category. Fill in the business details the page asks for and click ‘Locate’. You should now see your business listing(s). Choose the verified business listing on Google Places and click ‘Ok’.
You will now come to this page:
You must now enter the name of your business. You also have the option to enter the link to your website.
Once you are through, click on the ‘Verify Now’ button to verify your Google+ local page.
Add an optional contact name and click on ‘Request Postcard’. When you get your PIN, open this page again and enter the number.
I am sure you are wondering why merge the Google Places and Google+ Local listings? Why won’t one suffice? Well, that’s because you need an account on Google Places if you want to create a Google+ Local profile. Also, each has its own strength so it makes good business sense to have an account on both.
If you want to build brand awareness and connect with your customers, there is no beating Facebook. To claim and set up the Facebook Places page for your business, follow the steps given below:
Step 1: Create your Page as Local Business
The first step is to create your Facebook Page by going to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Step 2 – Filling the Details
When you click on Local Business or Place, you will be taken to this page:
Fill in the required details. After this you can use your admin panel to edit your page, build your audience, and fill your page with the requisite content.
Step 3: Claiming your Facebook Page for your Business
Once you have created your official local business page on Facebook, it’s time to claim your Facebook Places page.
Go to your Facebook Business Page and click on the arrow on the box next to “edit” and select ‘Is this your Business?’ When you click on it you will be taken through a series of steps that will ask for information about your business.
Step 4: Verification
You will now need to verify your connection to the business by either choosing an email verification process or by uploading the necessary documentation.
Choose the email option only if you have an email address linked to your Facebook account and which also serves as your business email address. In terms of documentation, you will need to scan or click a picture of an official business document, like business license, tax file, phone bill, etc., and upload it.
That’s it. You are done claiming and setting up a Facebook profile for your local business. All you need to do now is start managing it.
A word about Facebook’s Parent-Child Framework
Big businesses with multiple locations (five or more) can connect their different local Facebook Pages to their corporate Facebook Page – this in essence is the Parent-Child Framework. If you operate from multiple locations you can claim your local pages under the Facebook Parent-Child Framework.