Targeting Service Areas on Google My Business

By Cullen Spang / November 16, 2018 / Search Engine Optimization

Latest Changes to Google My Business Further Aid SABs, Improve Overall Search Experience

Google My Business (GMB) has always been incredibly important for SEO, especially at the local level.

Continuously making improvements and introducing additional features to improve the user experience and overall usefulness and accuracy of the GMB platform, Google has shown its dedication to providing customers as much detail as possible about their local businesses, as easily and quickly as possible.

In their most recent addition, Google focused on making major improvements to the way service area businesses (SABs) are able to target the areas they service. Adding multiple options for setting service areas, as well as providing the option of hiding the business addresses, local SABs can now easily and accurately inform their customers exactly where they are willing to operate.

Here’s how service area businesses were previously listed in GMB:

  • Service areas were directly tied your business address.
  • Service areas were defined by the radius around your business address.
  • Business addresses were automatically included in your GMB listing.
    Google My Business search result for Catseye Pest ControlAs you can see, the physical address of the business listing was present, as well as a miles-wide radius that was included in the service area.While the physical address of a businesses is often an important aspect of GMB listings — and businesses in general — this is not the case for SABs who deliver goods or services to a specific location. Think house cleaners, laundry delivery, contractors, etc.; these are the types of businesses that have operated this way for decades and likely much longer.Since these businesses do not have a physical brick-and-mortar store location, and do not serve their customers at the business address itself, providing this information can cause some unnecessary confusion for customers, potentially resulting in a bad user experience (A big no-no, in SEO). Also, the address is simply not needed.Here’s what changed since Google’s recent update:
  • SABs now can create a GMB listing without making their business address visible to customers.
  • SABs with addresses currently listed will be able to remove them.
  • You can provide multiple service areas by city, ZIP code, or region.
  • Google will rank multiple service areas equally.

However, despite not having to show your business address to your customers, Google still requires a physical address to verify the business exists by mailing a postcard containing a passcode verification. This is the way it is currently  done for all GMB businesses.

Below you can see how service areas are now able to be selected by specific cities, postal codes, and other areas. Additionally, you can see on the right that while you still need to provide an address for verification, you now have the option to hide your address from customers.

 

 

How to Add, Edit & Remove Service Areas on GMB

Listing your service area helps your customers understand where you’ll go to provide your service. Luckily, adding, editing, or removing a service area to your GMB listing is relatively quick and painless.

Google has provided step-by-step instructions for doing so here:

How to Add or Edit a Service Area in Google My Business

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. From the menu, click Info.
  4. In the service area section, click Edit.
  5. Enter your service area information. You can set your service area based on the regions, cities, or ZIP codes that you serve.
    Note: You can no longer set your service area as a distance around your business.
  6. Click Apply.

How to Remove a Service Area

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. From the menu, click Info.
  4. In the service area section, click Edit.
  5. Click the X next to each service area you want to remove. To remove all service areas at once, click Clear service areas.
  6. Click Apply.

Why is Local SEO So Important for Service Area Businesses?

There’s no doubt that ranking in the Local Pack in Google Search is not just a catalyst to  local SEO success, but also a high-impact goal to increase a site’s visibility and performance. And with the recent additions to targeting service areas, showing up in the local pack is more important than ever.

Since SABs only operate within certain perimeters, it makes it that much more important for your brand to be visible for search queries within those service areas (i.e. [plumber boston ma]). Without optimizing for local SEO, your business will fail to provide Google and other search engines with the necessary signals that associate your brand with a geographic location.

Location pages and customer reviews with location-specific content, in addition to the signals sent for designated service areas, are important for ranking in the local pack. By optimizing for all three of these concurrently, you are sending Google the information that confirms your business is relevant, prominent, and local to these locations.

 

So, if you’re serious about your local SEO presence, we recommend optimizing your GMB listing to include accurate and detailed service areas of your business.

Need help with your SEO efforts? We can help boost your online visibility.