As a small business owner, increasing your web presence and finding new customers are top priorities.   Local business listings are a key component; especially if you operate a service business in a competitive region.  If you have put serious time and effort into creating the perfect website for your business, you know that the next obvious step is getting that website in front of as many potential customers as possible.

One easy way to increase your web results is through Google Business listings.  Having a solid profile ensures that, if someone in your city is searching for a roofing contractor, and you provide roofing services, your business will show up in their search results.

Adding a business listing is free and your business profile may already exist. You can find out with a quick search.

Before adding or editing your business listing, it’s best to create a new Google account for your business.  You can easily create one here.  Submit the form and follow the prompts to create your account.  You can use your business name as the user name (e.g., happyroofing@gmail.com).

Once you are logged into your new account, go to Google Maps and search for your business name.  If Google has your business listed already, you will see “Claim this business” below the address and phone number.  Click the link and you will be directed to a form to edit the business details.

If your business profile isn’t listed on Maps, you can create a new one. Go to Google My Business and click the “Start Now” button.  Enter your business information, double-checking for spelling and accuracy.  Provide as much information as you can about your business.

Mobile users can download the Google My Business app in the Google Play Store or from the iTunes App Store.  Once the app is installed, sign in with your Google account, click “Create new business” and follow the prompts.

Once you have completed your new business submission, Google will want to verify your business.  Depending on the type of business, verification is usually done by postcard.  Google will send a postcard to your business address (usually within a week) with a verification number.

When you receive the postcard, sign in to Google My Business and click the “Verify” link.  Enter the verification code in the box and click “Submit”.  You will then be able to review your listing and make any final changes before it is added.

Once your business has been verified, it will appear on Google Maps and Search. Initially, you may be near the bottom of the list, but through consistent SEO enhancements, positive reviews, and engagement, your rank will improve in time.

You will always need to be logged in to your Google account to make changes to your business profile.  Only you, as the business owner, can manage the Google business profile.  It’s a good idea to log in and check your listing regularly to respond to reviews, add new photos, or update any other information that your potential customers might benefit from.

So, head on over to Google and add your business or claim the existing listing today! It’s a free, painless way to be included in local business listings and boost your search rankings.