Google My Business Service Areas: Unpacking the Subtleties

A physical storefront is not a prerequisite for a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Service area businesses (SABs) — or those that service a specified geographic area — can also benefit handsomely from GMB features. Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, however, there are a few additional idiosyncrasies to pay attention to, both during the setup phase and during the optimization phase as you strive to build a presence in local search.

What defines a service area business?

SABs operate a physical location open to the public, such as a showroom or office, but they don’t. Even if they do, showroom visitors aren’t going to be the primary driver of revenue — phone calls and form submissions through their Google My Business listing and website landing pages are.

Thus SABs have two main priorities:

  1. Clearly defining their service area
  2. Strategically targeting that area through local SEO

How do I set my service area(s) in Google My Business?

  1. Enter a business name
  2. Choose a business category
  3. Select all the relevant services you provide within that category.

Where the process deviates, of course, is in the provision of a physical address. If you are a brick-and-mortar business, you’ll need to enter this information as it appears on your physical signage, on your website, and in other local directories (see our previous post about citation building ).

However, if you’re an SAB, you will follow these steps:

  1. Leave the “Business Location” field blank
  2. Define up to 20 Google My Business service areas, using any combination of city/town names, zip codes, county names, or country names. It’s recommended to include in this list at least one zip code that sits on the fringe of your operating limits to pull in search results from that area.

Next, whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business or a service area business, you’ll have the opportunity to add your website URL to your listing before clicking “finish.” If you do not have a website URL, Google can generate a web page from the information provided for your GMB listing.

Note about hybrid businesses: If you’re a hybrid business — for instance, a restaurant that delivers or a dog groomer that travels — you would still enter a business location and define the boundaries within which you deliver or travel through service areas.

Local SEO strategy for service area businesses

  1. A fully optimized GMB listing, giving your business a better chance of appearing in the Local 3 Pack on Google Maps or SERPs
  2. Landing page(s) from your GMB listing and other applicable Google channels that are accurately reflective of the products or services you offer.

As you start building on that foundation, though, our points of emphasis diverge a little. For a brick-and-mortar business, especially one with only a single location, proximity is paramount in local search rankings (“near me” queries in particular). For an SAB, queries you might appear for are more likely to correspond to a more generalized geographic area. The searcher could very well not be anywhere near that area, but perhaps planning to go there.

If your service area is broader and encompasses multiple cities or towns, or even a whole region, it could be a good idea to create city-specific landing pages to cater to these different clientele bases specifically (include geo-specific keywords on-page and in metadata). The bigger you are, though, the higher a priority you’ll want to make organic SEO.

Maximize your GMB listing with ASAPmaps

Originally published at https://www.asapmaps.com on May 28, 2021.

Improve your business listings, ASAP.