How to get on Google Maps

Another question from the last Websites 101 class was, “How do you get your business on Google Places?” (By the way, “Google Places” is now called “Google My Business.”) This is what Victor found out:

To set up your Google business location information:

  1. Search for  your business on Google Maps.
    • If nothing appears (which is likely if you haven’t registered your business with the state), you’ll see a box that lets you add a place to the map. Fill in the information.
    • If Google has your business already, in the box with the name, address, Directions and Save buttons, etc., there is a grey line of italicized text that reads “Suggest an edit.”
  2. Click Suggest an edit to open the Report a data problem dialog box. Use this box to edit the business’s name, address, phone number, website, and so on.

Google cross references your edits with other known data and decides whether to make the changes or not. Google has purposely made it difficult to make changes to business data because there were many incidents of people sabotaging rival businesses by changing the opening times to indicate that the business was never open, changing a business’s name or location so that it could not be found, etc.

Google may or may not use follow your suggested edits. If Google refuses to use your edits, you can create a Google+ page for the business:

  1. Log onto Google through your Gmail account (you must have a Gmail account to use Google+) and go to the Google My Business page.
  2. Click Add a single location to open a new page in Google Maps.
  3. Enter your business’s name into the search bar. If your business shows up in the search results, click the correct listing and follow the instructions to claim it. If your business does not show up in the results, click None of these match and Add your business.
  4. Enter all of the information about your business and click Submit.
  5. Google creates a Google+ page for the business with the information you entered. If the information is incorrect you can change it in this window. If it is correct, click
  6. A dialog box opens indicating that Google needs to verify your business information and that you are the actual owner of the business. Fill out the information requested in the dialog box. Google sends a postcard to the address indicated with a PIN code and instructions for adding it to the Google+ page. The postcard appears in the mail within a week or two; you have thirty days to enter the PIN code on the Google+ page.

While you’re waiting for the postcard to arrive, you can enter other information about the business such as pictures, descriptions of services offered, logos, etc.

Note that Google will not allow post office boxes to be used as business addresses under any circumstances. You must have a real physical address for your business.


Ignore Letters from Domain Registry of America

One of our clients just received and responded to a letter from Domain Registry of America that said “your domain is about to expire, send money.”

If you get a letter like this, tear it up. Domain Registry of America and a few other firms try to get you to switch your domain name to them so that they can charge you a lot more than you’re paying right now.

Luckily, the organization that manages the universe of domain names, ICANN, set up a rule that, to switch domains from company A to company B, you have to get an authorization code from company A. Our client was asked for this code, asked us to find it, and we said, “Whoa! Are you sure this is what you want to do?” stopping the scam in its tracks.

Another form of protection is to “lock” your domain name. Unless you or your administrator/webmaster unlock the domain name, it ain’t going nowhere.

Here’s more information on the practice, which is called “domain slamming”:


What can I use to update my own site?

Until recently, we recommended Contribute from Adobe to our customers who wanted to maintain their own sites.

The program lets you open your pages, make changes, and save them for later or post them to your live website. You don’t have to look at the code (HTML)–it’s more like working in Microsoft Word than Dreamweaver.

However, Contribute isn’t available under Windows 8 and Adobe doesn’t seem to be interested in updating and maintaining the program.

Our current recommendation is a free program from Microsoft, Microsoft Expression. It looks more techie than Contribute, but you can ignore the code parts and just work on your pages. You can download it at Microsoft Expression Web 4.