As an SEO specialist I have seen my fair share of Google business profiles that are unclaimed. You probably have too. Considering how easy Google have made it to actually claim a listing this continues to surprise me!

If you don’t know what I am referring to here … suppose you go to a search results page where you see a large business profile listing appear on the Right hand Side… Or you and on the Maps Local Finder looking for a local service provider and you click on one of the listings…
And in this listing you see the line “Own This Business?” Usually in blue and hyperlinked.
This means the business owner hasn’t claimed the business listing as their own.
I guess the (many) unclaimed Google My Business profiles we see are automatically created, awaiting the actual owner to claim it

So what, I hear you say. Is it important?

Yes it is. Let me tell you why I think it is very important.

What Google Says

Google actually says a profile must be verified to appear in its listings.

” To add your business information to Google Maps, Search, and other Google properties, you’ll need to create a Google My Business listing
(or get access to one, if it already exists).” https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en

This is obviously not 100% true as I have seen unverified listings outrank verified ones. But things change with Google and this may be older data  or only partially the case – they are not the most transparent of companies after all. Not that they are denying it …

We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.
https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091

They certainty do!! And to create confusion and maybe even encourage people to buy their paid advertising instead. Anyway I digress…
here is a more useful piece of information from them

To add your business information to Google Maps, Search, and other Google properties, you’ll need to create a Google My Business listing
(or get access to one, if it already exists).
Manage how your business information appears across Google, including Search and Maps, using Google My Business—for free.

But the thing is I have seen unclaimed profiles at the top of the local pack listings on page one
So despite what Google say above, whether it is verifed or not it appears (sometimes).

You must verify your business listing to manage your business information on Google Maps, Search, and other Google properties.
The verification process helps ensure that your business information is accurate and that only you, the business owner or manager, has access to it.
You need to create or claim a Google My Business listing before you can start the verification process.
https://support.google.com/business/answer/7107242?hl=en

So its important to verify your listing so you can manage it properly. I get that still doesn’t get you scrambling feverishly to claim your wayward business listing. But there are some very compelling reasons why it should!

Three compelling reasons to claim your business

1. Only verified businesses can respond to reviews. ( ref: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3474122?hl=en )
It always looks good to repond with a thankyou or some such acknowledgment whan someone leaves a good review. And what if someone who never bought from you leaves a bad or inaccurate review.. your response can help turn the potential damage around.

2. Verification lets others know that your Google My Business listing is actually managed by your business.
( ref: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2566416?hl=en )
It really does look more professional NOT to have the “Own This Business?” line on your listing

3. Verification helps ensure the accuracy of your business information across Google.
Verified businesses are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users.
Verification also protects you from anyone who might otherwise pose as a representative of your business. Until you’ve completed verification, you won’t be able to edit the business information that appears on Google products.
(ref: https://support.google.com/business/answer/6300716?hl=en )
The emphasis here is mine. This is THE most important reason and it’s not a small one either.

Ensure The Accuracy Of Your Business Information

What business information is Google referring to here? A verified Google My Business account let’s you

A/ Keep your hours accurate
“Entering and updating your opening hours, including special hours for holidays and special events, lets potential customers know when you’re available and gives them confidence that when they travel to your location, it will be open.”
No-one likes to go to shop that is listed as open only to find out it is closed, or has moved to a new address

B/ Manage and respond to reviews
As covered above. Google says this allows you to “Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location”

C/ Add photos
By showing people your products and services you make your listing much more appealing and can increase its effectiveness

D/ Stop Listing Corruption
This one isn’t particularly addressed by Google in detail. They probably don’t want to draw too much attention to it.
An unverified listing can be edited by anyone to change it’s phone number, opening hours, website url etc. These suggested changes edits are presented to to google who then chose to implement them – or no. If you didn’t verify your listing so you don’t get asked. Google decides for you.
I have seen cases where high ranking listings have had their URLs changed to a competitors website, or their phone number altered.
This is not about the ethics of such a practice – I merely point out it happens. A lot!
And it is easily avoided. If you own the profile you control what it says!

Does being verified impact on ranking?

Again Google isn’t going to tell us … I have read in many places that it does. It kind of makes sense that a verified listing would have some advantage over an unverified one. Again let’s see what Google does actulaly say

How Google determines local ranking
Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.

Relevance
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.

Distance
Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.

Prominence
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.

Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091

So based on this being verified certainly does have the potential to get your listing ranked more highly. Though as you can see it’s only part of the story. But that is a subject for another time….

Is it worth verifying my profile

In-case you missed what I was trying to say or you skipped ahead the answer is YES! Why wouldn’t you. It easy and it’s free and it is to your advantage to do so. And should you want a simple hands-on quick start guide which shows you exactly what to do I have one of those as well. It’s free and you can download it here https://www.local-seo.com.au/google-my-business-australia/