If you own a restaurant or other type of business location, one of the most important things you can do is to claim the business through the Google Local Business Center. This is the second post in my series of 7 Social Media Must-Do’s for the Restaurant Industry and while my research is based on work in the restaurant industry, it is applicable to any business with a physical location that is visited by either retail or business customers.
Why Is Google Locations So Important? – There are at least 4 reasons why it is so important to get your businesses listed through the Google Local Business Center.
1. Google Search – First, Google Search is the most widely used search engine on the planet by a large margin and Google’s own results show up at the top of any search. This reason alone should be enough to persuade you to make sure you are listed.
2. It’s Free – Google lets you claim your profile for free which lets you make sure all of the details about your business are accurate as well as letting you provide additional information and photos. So, Google lets you list your business for free while receiving top search engine juice too – seems like a no-brainer.
3. Google Favorite Places – If you want to become a Google Favorite Places, you must have previously claimed your business through the Google Local Business Center. Learning more about the Google Favorite Places program was my initial impetus for exploring the possibilities with Google Locations.
4. Analytical Dashboard – Google provides you with a great analytical dashboard to track the number of views your business page gets on Google along with the number of actions taken on the page. See the What Information Do I Receive? section below for more on the Dashboard.
For example, here is a Google Search for “ruby’s diner redondo beach“. At the top of the listing is a map to the restaurant along with address, phone number, reviews and a link to “Menu and more“. When you claim a business on Google Local Business, you get a chance to validate the address, phone number, hours and selected items under Menu and more. The reviews noted are currently coming from a combination of Citysearch, Zagat and Urbanspoon, but not from Yelp which I consider the leading consumer review website. Unfortunately, most of the reviews are more than 6 months old and from sites that are not as widely used as Yelp. On an interesting aside, Google tried to buy Yelp in December but was re-buffed and I imagine that somewhere at Google, someone is working on a product to wipe out Yelp.
Clicking on the Menu and more link takes you to the location details page and most of this information is added by the location owner. The captions in the photo show you which items were added by the owner and some of the optional items that can be added to the profile.
How Do I Claim My Locations? – Google lets you claim locations individually by visiting this page and entering the information manually.
I have copied an example of a business that is not claimed on Google Locations below. This restaurant is missing out on giving customers key information on their business such as a website link, hours of operation, photos and other information that may persuade someone to visit their establishment. If you are the business owner and want to claim this business, it is as simple as clicking the link at the top of the page.
If you have multiple locations, you can also upload your information via the Bulk Business Feed spreadsheet which is described on this webpage. I used this spreadsheet template to upload most of the information for the 43 locations I claimed for Ruby’s Diner. In either case, there is a manual update process to ensure that all of the information came across properly, to upload business photos and to edit information not picked up during the bulk upload. The manual update process works very efficiently and is much better than the Bing or Yelp procedure to individually claim locations which can get tedious if you have more than 10 stores.
When I claimed the Ruby’s Diner locations earlier this year, it took about 3 to 4 weeks before the listings became active. I don’t know what happens during the review process on Google’s side, but it seemed to be a reasonable length of time. Subsequent edits to claimed locations are processed in under 30 minutes. And the process is much easier than the location claiming process for other services such as Yelp, Bing and Tripadvisor.
What Information Do I Receive? – Google is always into analytics and providing their users with great analytical tools, and the analytics for Google Local Business Center are no exception. The top Dashboard page lists all of the businesses or locations you have claimed under the same email address. The high level stats include store code, location status and statistics for the last 30 days that include the number of impressions and actions. The Dashboard is also where you can edit your claimed listings.
Clicking on the View Report link results in a detailed location-specific Dashboard. On the detailed dashboard, you can easily select the last 7 days, the last 30 days or select your own custom time period to display the number of daily impressions and actions. The actions are defined as clicks for more information on the Maps, clicks for driving directions and clicks to your website. At the bottom of the Dashboard, the keywords for the top search queries are presented along with a map showing where driving direction requests are coming from by zipcode.
Business owners also have the option of posting a special announcement or creating a special web-only coupon for your business. For some of our Ruby’s Diner locations, we created special announcements for Kids Eat Free Tuesdays. I have just experimented with the coupon feature which seems really easy to use, but I have not published any coupons yet. One nice feature is that coupons can be either printable, displayable on a mobile phone or both.
Good luck with claiming your businesses on Google Local Business Center.