This is part of a series of posts expanding on our Google Earth Blog FAQ. Yesterday we looked at how to make minor corrections to placemarks, such as moving misplaced placemarks, adding or correcting the information displayed or removing a placemark.
Today we are looking what to do if you own a business or are a person in authority relating to another type of placemark, such as a school or museum. As we said yesterday, Google Maps is the primary source of mapping data for Google Earth, so what we are talking about today must primarily be done in Google Maps.
Note also that some of the processes we are talking about today are only available in some countries. This relates to which countries currently have Google Map Maker or coverage by Google’s Ground Truth project. We found that you cannot add new placemarks in Zambia at present but you can claim an existing business. In South Africa, you can both create new placemarks and claim a business, but Map Maker is currently disabled there – but it is covered by the Ground Truth project. Both countries have had Map Maker enabled in the past and are waiting for Regional Leads to be appointed.
First of all, check whether or not there is already a placemark in Google Maps for your business. If you do not see a marker on the map, double-check by searching for your business name, as quite often markers are misplaced and it is preferable to correct the location of an existing marker, rather than create a duplicate. If you are sure there is no existing marker simply click on the location where your business is and Google Maps will show a small popup with the address.
Once you have located or created a placemark, open it in the sidebar, either by searching for it or clicking on it. You should then see ‘Claim this business’ as one of the options in the sidebar. If you do not see it then it is most likely that someone else has already claimed it.
Click on the ‘Claim this business’ link and it will open Google My Business.
Click “Get started”. You are then asked to confirm that you are authorised to manage the business and agree to the terms of service. If you are authorised and do agree to the terms then tick it and click continue. This will create a Google+ page which is tied to the placemark and used to manage the information displayed in the placemark. If you do not have a Google account you may require one.
We will not go further into the details of how to manage if from there as it is fairly straight forward and does have help pages if you need it. One important task you must carry out is to verify you own the business. This is done by Google sending a postcard to your address with a special code on it which you then enter into Google My Business. This can be a problem in countries like Zambia where the postal system is somewhat unreliable and some places do not have a postal address nor delivery to a street address.
There are a number of advantages to claiming ownership of a business placemark. First of all, it gives you more control over the data that is displayed and also prevents other people from making malicious changes to the data. It also gives you the opportunity to respond to user reviews.