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?

Whereas customers come to a brick-and-mortar business, a service area business goes to the customer. Examples of SABs include:

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

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

GMB listing setup begins the same way for both brick-and-mortar businesses and SABs.

  1. Enter a business name

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

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

Local SEO strategy for both SABs and brick-and-mortar businesses has the same foundation:

  1. A fully optimized GMB listing, giving your business a better chance of appearing in the Local 3 Pack on Google Maps or SERPs

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

No matter what kind of local business you are, the importance of a fully realized GMB listing cannot be understated. High-quality and high-impact images and videos, regular Google Posts , social proof through Google Reviews , and thoughtful answers to frequently asked questions through the Q&A feature can all boost your local SEO profile considerably. Let ASAPmaps handle the details while you focus on dominating your specialty — wherever it takes you.

Originally published at on May 28, 2021.

Improve your business listings, ASAP.