A top concern for small business owners is trying to find more customers through local and mobile search. And the numbers are there — local search has or is poised to take over. According to the Localeze/15miles "Local Search Usage Study" (2012), 61% of smartphone owners conduct local searches, with the number one reason being on-the-go necessity for fast information.
Your business' name, address and phone number (referred to as "NAP") must be consistent and up-do-date if you want success with local listings. Creating and claiming a Google+ Local page for your local business adds tremendous authority and credibility to your place profiles.
Here's how to claim yours.
First, set up a Google account (http://google.com/accounts) or sign-in. You can use the same account for your AdWords or Gmail. However, you may want to create a separate account just for your local profiles, in case you want to work with a consultant or vendor for local search (and thus, they wouldn't have access to your sensitive details on AdWords or your fantasy football account hooked up to your Gmail).
Second, you need to have a real address. PO Boxes don't count. Nor do UPS Store or other "suites". While you may get away with a "suite" for some time, do you really have a local business? Would you send clients to the UPS Store to buy your goods?
Finally, create or claim your page. If you've been around long enough to have a listing in the print yellow pages, or have created Yahoo Local or other profiles, it's near certain that Google has created a placeholder page for you.
The easiest way to verify this is to do a search on your business name on Google Maps. Once you click on one of the listings on the left column, a map balloon will open up. Click again on the "more info" hyperlink to take you to the profile page.
Once you see this image, on the bottom right, you can begin to fill in all the details about your business:
You'll be prompted to re-login to your Google account, or pass a validation test before continuing (either accepting a call at the published number Google has, or receiving a post card in the mail with a PIN number on it).
Once you complete the validation, you've claimed the page and can begin to manage it. At minimum, you'll want to enter as many details as possible, including hours, goods and services, URL, and hopefully, upload a few photos.
And that's all there is to creating and claiming your Google+ Local page!
Brian Farrell is the Managing Consultant @ FINDtheCLIENT - a sales consulting organization providing interim sales leadership as well as training, recruitment & sales coaching for B2B sales organizations.