The following is a guest blog post by Oli Graham, Marketing Manager for RightlyWritten.
Small businesses are reliant on local search for a good reason: 78% of location-based searches result in an offline sale. A key component of achieving prominence in local search is to have your business listed on local directories.
The most important local directories are Google My Business and Yelp. They are the most commonly used by searchers and also have the biggest sway when it comes to visibility in Google local search packs. And, obviously, more visibility means more website traffic, leads, and, ultimately, customers.
Here is a quick guide on how to get your business listed on these directories as well as how to edit these listings should you move or close your business.
In order to appear in the Google Map for a local search, you must create a Google My Business account. To start, you’ll need a Google account (a Gmail account will give you this) and to sign up with Google My Business, if you haven’t already. After signing up, you’ll see your My Business dashboard, which contains your business (you can see multiple businesses here if you have more than one).
As a new account holder, the list will be empty by default.
To add an entry, you’ll need to search Google’s listings for your business’s name. Here you’ll face two potential scenarios: the company already exists on Google or it doesn’t yet.
If it doesn’t yet exist on Google, you can create a new listing by following the prompts the site provides. You will need to input information about your business, such as:
If you do not have a physical location, you can set Google My Business to not display your address publicly.
After completing your entry, Google will require you to verify that you own the company. This is done by sending a postcard to your given address. The postcard contains a code that you need to verify when finishing your Google My Business registration.
Note: Your business profile will not appear on Google and Google Maps until you verify your business’s existence and ownership. You cannot use a PO Box to verify your business.
Alternatively, if Google already has information on your business, you need to claim it. Claiming a business also requires you to go through the validation process by having Google send a postcard to your address.
Once you’re verified, you can update your company’ profile by following these steps:
You can edit this form even if you’re not verified yet. However, the changes will not reflect on Google searches. If you’re verified, expect that there will be a short delay before the changes appear in search results.
If you have multiple businesses, you can use one account to claim and manage all of your Google My Business listings.
You may want to remove your address if you decide to shift your business into a virtual one that only provides online services. Or you might offer home services or other services at your clients’ location. In this case it makes sense to remove your address from your Google My Business listing.
In order to remove the information:
It’s rare for business owners to remove their business from Google, but if you have a good reason to do this, go ahead. To remove the company out of your account or to stop managing the profile, follow these steps:
If you’re closing up shop, you can mark your business as permanently closed instead. Here’s how:
If you move your business’s premises, your Google My Business should reflect this so new customers can find you at your correct location.
If you have already claimed your Google My Business listing, changing your location should not be too difficult. All you have to do is follow these steps:
Note: Google can take up to 10 working days to make this change visible in search results.
The goal of online presence management isn’t just letting Google know that your business exists. The main goal is to ensure that your business profile will appear on Google search whenever someone searches for something related to your location, products, and services.
Here are five things you can do to ensure your business’s visibility on Google:
Unlike Google My Business, where you have total control over the listing, it is at the discretion of the Yelp moderators whether your request to change your location is granted.
Here are the steps you can take to make this request:
It will then be up to Yelp’s team to investigate and approve the changes. You have higher chances of getting this approved if you have a Yelp account and have claimed your business, so be sure to set one up before you try to make this change.
Note: If your location change is significant (your business location is not within the original service area anymore), Yelp will consider this as a substantial business change. Instead of changing the address, they will ask you to create a new listing instead. The old business profile will have a banner explaining why there’s a new profile and why it’s changed.
Once you create a business page on Yelp, you can’t remove its business address or business page. Yelp acknowledges this on their support page.
Alternatively, if you want to update your business’ status as temporarily or permanently closed, you can go back to the company’s page and click on the “Edit Business Info” link. Click the “Business Closed Or Moved” checkbox and then click on the “Permanently Closed” radio button.
To maximize engagement on Yelp, you need to be active. You must post photos, make frequent and relevant updates, and respond quickly to reviewers publicly or through direct messages.
If you have a budget for marketing, you can subscribe to Yelp Business. In doing so, you can take advantage of Yelp’s analytics services, which can help you better understand the results of your Yelp marketing efforts.
Online presence management can be challenging at first glance, but as you can see, it’s easy if you receive proper guidance and explanation. Adequate information on online business listings is a powerful tool that can either help you grow your business fast or destroy your sales funnel.
Whatever other reasons you have for updating your business addresses in these two listings, always be sure to be accurate and to do it correctly the first time. You might get away with multiple edits with Google, but you might find it tricky with Yelp.
Now that you know how to build your business listings on a few of the most influential sites, you have the tools to ensure your business remains accessible to customers on and offline, setting your business up to draw in more customers and make more sales.