Google, along with other top search engines, is currently competing to provide you with the best local search engine possible. That’s why they’ve already gathered information on millions of local businesses – to provide you with the most relevant information possible through Google Places. Google Places is a local business directory that provides users information about local businesses such as address, phone number, description, business hours, photos, videos, reviews, driving directions and more. If your business is listed in Google Places it will also be able to show up on the Google Map, which appears at the top of the search results page and helps direct consumers right to your business location.

Odds are, if you’re not a new business, your company already has a Google Places listing. So you may be asking, “if my company is already listed, why do I need to bother with ‘claiming’ my listing?”

Although Google may already have your business in its database, the information it has may not be correct and it is certainly not optimized. Google and other search engines often obtain incorrect or outdated information that can really put a damper on your rankings. Sometimes duplicate listings are made by mistake, which doesn’t only confuse your potential customers but also the search engines, which penalize you with lower rankings.

Claiming your business has many advantages. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should claim your business on Google Places:

1. You can update your information easily when needed – Once your local business information is on Google Places, Google is not going to update it. This means that there could be misinformation about your business on your listing as well as outdated information. Claiming your business allows you to edit this information as needed, giving you full control over your business’s image.

2. Optimizing your local listing is an option – Once you claim your listing, you will be able to optimize it using keywords and categories to help it get to the top of the Maps. Listings that haven’t been claimed have little or no local SEO, so claiming your listing and adding more information will make it complete and give you an advantage over your competitors.

3. Adding enhancements – Once you claim your Google listing, you can add enhancements that make your listing more appealing to the search engines and your potential customer. Adding more information such as business hours, videos, a URL to your Website, coupons, photos and more will help consumers who view your listing. These enhancements also make your listing look better to Google and you will be rewarded with higher search rankings.

Google wants businesses to claim their listing. For this reason, when a business is claimed, higher search rankings will follow. The bottom line is, if you claim your Google business listing, you will have more control over your online image, higher rankings and more consumers will be able to see your listing. This means more potential new customers leading to more profit.