If you have Googled the name of your organisation, you may have found that it already exists online – even without you doing anything.
This may happen for a number of reasons. For example, business directories may list you on their site based on public information, social media users sometimes create pages for locations they visit so they can ‘check-in’ and some social networks even recommend their users create pages for businesses they may not already have.
It is in your interest to 'claim' your online presence, as this can be they first method that clients find your services or supporters find your purpose. The good news is that most of the time, these pages that have been created can be ‘claimed’ by the owners of the business and can be changed and monitored.
If this sounds like you, there are usually a few basic steps.
Do an audit of your listings
Firstly, set up a document where you can write down all the different websites you have a presence on. This could include Google Maps, Yelp, Facebook etc. An Excel spreadsheet could be helpful in this situation.
Apply to claim the listing
If you come across a listing for your organisation, look for a link on the page that says something similar to “claim this listing” or “is this your business”. These links will usually take you through the process of setting up an account with whatever service you’re accessing. Add the website to your spreadsheet. This will help you keep track of where your business is listed in case you need to change them in the future.
For each website, the process for claiming your listing is different. For most, you will be required to create an account with the website (usually free). Here are a few examples of how to do it on popular sites:
- Google – Add or claim your business listing
- Facebook – How do I claim an unmanaged page that exists for my business?
- Yelp - Claiming your business
- Foursquare – Foursquare for business
Once you have created your account and claimed the listing, you can then make any changes that may be necessary such as adding details, website information, opening hours etc.
It may be tempting to try and have it removed, however it won’t necessarily stop someone else from re-creating the page. Keeping the page, and monitoring it from time to time will allow you to take better control of what’s being said about your organisation and what information is available to others.
Now that you have your spreadsheet of claimed (and updated) listings, make sure you add it to your workflow if you have any changes to address, opening hours, phone number etc.
It’s possible that you now have a social media presence if you had to claim your listing on Facebook or on other social networks. It’s time to develop your social media strategy.