By: Ryan Miller

Yesterday, we walked you through how to build a new Google+ Page. Today, we’re going to show you the specifics of how to claim a Google+ Page for your local business and more importantly why it is crucial that you do this.

Claiming Your Page

Before you are able to create and/or claim any Google+ Pages, you’ll need to have a personal Google+ account setup.  This account (for now) will be the sole account that will have admin rights to your local business’ Google+ Page so choose the account wisely.  Once you have your personal profile setup, head over to Create a Page.

Next, choose the Local Business or Place option on the left hand side:

Next, add in your local telephone number for the physical location you want to claim.

If your business already exists within Google Places, you should see your business listing pop up.  Select the location you want to claim, and from here you’ll be able to confirm some your business information.

If you business is not listed yet, you will be prompted to add the correct business information  

In addition to adding or verifying your address (which, if you have claimed your Google Places Profile already, should be accurate) you’ll be able to select a Main Category for your business and the appropriate audience for your business.

The current Main Categories your business can be added to are:

  • Home and Construction
  • Education and Culture
  • Entertainment and Recreation
  • Banking and Finance
  • Food
  • Gas and Automotive
  • Health and Beauty
  • Insurance
  • Lodging
  • Manufacturing, Mining, Utilities, Agriculture
  • Professional Services
  • Shipping and Mailing
  • Stores and Shopping
  • Storage

The audience categories are:

  • Any Google+ User
  • Users 18 and Older
  • Users 21 and Older
  • Alcohol Related

At the moment, only businesses that are appropriate for any Google+ user can create a page.  A message alerting you that “our product is not available for you yet. Please come back later” will greet you should you choose any of the other options.

Finally, you’ll be prompted to customize your page with a profile photo.  This should be your business logo or picture of your physical location, something that will be instantly recognizable to your customers. 

With your Google+ Page now officially created, you’ll want to edit the page to include details about your business such as your main website URL, store hours, a summary of your services, photos and videos.  This can all be accomplished by going to the “About” tab on your live profile and clicking the edit button.You are now ready to start sending out the URL for your profile out to current and potential customers. 

Why Should You Claim this Page?

You may have noticed during the walk through above that you never had to verify that you are in fact the owner of the business.  Unlike Google Places, there is no process for verification via telephone or postcard to prove that you are who you say you are.  The only thing security during the process is a checkbox saying that you agree to the Pages Terms and are authorized to create the page.

As an exmple, I’ll return to my favorite Thai restaurant, Pad Thai and claim their Google+ Page: 

In about 30 seconds, I was the proud admin of a business’ Google+ Page that I had no authority to control.  That is how long it could take for you to lose control of your business in Google+. This is not a scare tactic, but an honest example of the current lack of security in Google+ and why it is so vital for you as a business owner to own your social profiles. (…and don’t worry, I deleted my ownership of the Pad Thai page right after taking the screenshot.)

So even if you do not have the time or resources to actively manage and update a Google+ Page at the moment, take the time to  at least claim the listing and optimize it with your business information.  This way your business online identy will be protected and you’ll have one more option for web users to find your business.

Ryan Miller is the SEO Manager for Advance Digital, and uses his favorite businesses to show you how to improve yours. You can follow him on Twitter @cromiller and add him to your circles on Google+.