Don't let your unverified business be modified or closed down by a stranger. Follow Google's lead and start taking Google Places seriously.
If I die today, I hope people say at my funeral, "Well at least Sage got us all to verify our listings at Google Places."
This is my personal crusade.
This is my one social cause. You may think there are other more "important" causes in the world to head up. Whatever. This is mine.
If you have a business (I don't care if it's a Fortune 50 business or a dog-walking business run out of your house), you should verify your Google Places listing.
As I write this column, Third Federal Savings, a large bank in Cleveland, OH, has not verified its listing.
Mr G's Pizzeria, in Akron, OH, with 42 reviews has not verified its listing.
Big or small, B2B or B2C, clearly I have much more work to do.
I can't even get past clients and favorite restaurants to do this.
I'm so obsessed by this, I've taken to compiling lists of businesses in Akron, OH, that have claimed their listings.
Doing a search for "Akron pizza" shows that of the top 10 results, six have verified their listings. Sixty percent is the best I could do.
Doing a search for "Akron accountant" shows that of the top 20 results, three have verified their listings!
My own accountant has not verified his listing.
Apparently for a crusader, I might be the worst of them. I can't get anybody to do this!
And I have a sneaking suspicion that you, my loyal readers, maybe haven't all verified your local listing either.
Why do I care so much? Because Google does.
Let me draw your attention to Place Search.
Google writes: Place Search is "a new kind of local search result that organizes the world's information around places. We've clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go."
You can see the main areas in this image:
The new results are marked with red pins along with associated sites, if it knows of them.
There is also a new link for "Places" in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want.
And then you can't miss the scrolly-up-and-downy map on the far right.
That's the part that blows my mind.
That map stays with you in that top right position as you scroll down the page. Even at the expense of scrolling over paid ads!
If Google is willing to roll over paid ads, you know it is committed to local search.
Local search is a huge opportunity of revenue for Google. If Google can put the final nail in the yellow pages coffin, it will happily do it.
Google wants to be the place people come to for local businesses.
Google is hiring 300 workers to pinpoint bugs in Google Maps.
Google is incredibly focused on this.
But why should you care about verifying your listing?
The biggest reason is because an unverified business can be modified, or even closed down, by anyone online.
If you don't verify your listing, anyone can edit it. Including angry competitors or angry past customers.
But if scare tactics don't work for you, there's a ton of great things that come to a business owner that verifies his business.
You get to:
There's just a ton of great free stuff you can do to make your listing stand out.
OK, so you're convinced. But don't know where to begin to verify your listing.
You're in luck.
Google has a good tutorial here.
And if you are a learner of the visual variety, I've also created a video tutorial on how to do it here.
I made it for Akron businesses because, like any crusader, I want to start in my backyard. But the information in the video can apply to any business.
So, if I die today (which I have no plan on doing), please do my one dying wish: get your Google Places listing verified!
Sage is off today. This column was originally published Nov. 16, 2010.
Search and traffic sourcing are both crucial to luring shoppers to your website. In this article, "2 Successful Holiday Strategies for Online Retail", you'll learn how to use a two-pronged approach for your holiday search campaigns that combine top keywords with the best referral sites. Data in this article comes from SimilarWeb.
Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.
Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
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