Since the inception of SEO, small businesses have consistently faced the problem of ranking for keywords in multiple cities. This is especially challenging to Service Area Businesses (SAB’s) who often serve a wide range of areas and communities. Although their office address (or home office) may be located in a small suburb, they are able to travel 10 minutes to reach consumers in a much larger metro area. But how are these consumers going to find them? Here’s what we know about multi-location SEO in 2020:
Google My Business Favors The Local Listing
As many local SEO experts have demonstrated, Google Map Pack rankings favor the local listing whenever possible. The location data is based on Google Maps business information. If you are a roofer whose business listing is set in Plano, TX you are going to have trouble showing up for terms like dallas roofer, or for searches like roofer near me when the searcher’s device is pinged within a Dallas zip code. See an example below:
Organic Rankings are Based on Other Factors
Generally, local SEO city landing pages will only rank if A) they are endorsed through links from other relevant entities within that community, or B) they have original content (like user-generated reviews and pins) that validate a business’s credibility within a specific geographic radius. With DataPins‘s technology, both reviews and pins are added to location pages (automatically) which allows the page to rank in a city that your business has serviced, but is not actually located in. See an example:
Google My Business Service Area Challenges
Google My Business is an essential tool for marketing your business. It makes it easier for people who need your services to find you. But what if you are a service area business? Ranking outside of your main zip code is notoriously difficult because Google prioritizes local searches based on which businesses actually have a physical address within the specified area. And, the further your venture out from your physical address, the more competition there is. You may only have 10 or so competing businesses within your own zip code but that number balloons to dozens the further you go out.
Google is always trying to enhance their user experience and location specification is a big part of that. That’s why it has been so difficult for service area business to get ranked in the areas that they serve.
In today’s post we are going to be talking about the challenges related to Google My Business service area ranking. We will also be discussing some of the ways you can overcome those challenges and be seen by more people outside the city where your business is physically located. And if you have any questions or would like to get started ranking higher in other areas right away, contact us here at DataPins.
The Origin of the Problem
Like with so many other good things in life, a handful of bad apples ruined the whole bunch. Google My Business used to have a feature that allowed businesses to set their physical location and then an “areas served” radius that surrounded that centralized location. It was a nice and convenient feature to be sure. But people started abusing it. Businesses were frequently exaggerating their service area radius just to show up in more searches even though they didn’t really work in those areas.
So naturally, as part of Google’s ceaseless quest to make their user’s happy, they struck this feature down. Now, it isn’t so easy to rank using Google My Business service area as many businesses have found out. But as Google shut one big door, they opened a window at the same time.
How the Problem is Being Remedied
Service area businesses were thrilled when Google unveiled their new service area features. While it’s not as easy as expanding your areas served radius on a map, it increases the quality of search results, which in the end, is better for your business.
There is now a Google My Business wizard that helps you specify all of your unique areas served. And while it can be a bit tedious (especially if you operate in a lot of cities) it is really very simple. There is now a “Where do you Serve Your Customers” section of the Google My Business profile setup process. In this section, you can list as many areas by name as you want. The city names you enter will then appear under the Overview section of your Google My Business Profile.
Super Specific Challenges
Business owners operating in large cities like Los Angeles and Dallas may come across another challenge with their Google My Business service area. Cities like these are massive and they have within them specific areas and neighborhoods of their own. The problem is, these smaller areas are still covered under city names like Los Angeles and Dallas. So business owners in these types of areas haven’t been able to let their customers know that they serve their specific area until recently.
In addition to including city names, Google has made it easier for businesses in large metropolitan areas to be found by searchers. You can now enter specific zip codes for areas that may not have their own specific name.
Adding New Service Areas to GMB
Another way Google has made it easier for businesses to manage their Google My Business service area is by not locking them into one area after they set up their profiles. You can go into your Google My Business dashboard and make changes to the Storefront Address and Service Area sections as needed. This is a great feature for businesses that are growing and frequently adding new cities to their service coverage area.
Understanding and Overcoming Challenges
The challenge of ranking outside of one’s own zip code is just one in a series of many more to come. As Google endlessly finds ways to improve its service, there will surely be more changes to frustrate businesses owners and DIY marketers alike.
It’s important to understand these challenges as they arise so that you can find ways to overcome them. Here at DataPins, it is our job to stay abreast of all such changes in ranking criteria and other marketing trends. We can help you traverse this ever-changing terrain so call us today!
Can You Have A Google Listing With no Address?
So, can you be listed on Google My Business with no physical address? The simple answer is no. You cannot set up and verify your Google My Business with no physical address given. The reason for this is that a physical address is an important part of the Google My Business verification process. In order to verify you as a real business, Google uses the physical address you give to send out a verification number. Once you confirm this verification number with Google, your listing will be verified.
So the simple answer is no but for your intents and purposes as a business owner, there is no need to have a storefront address.
You Can Still Use Google My Business
Using the examples mentioned earlier in this post, you may run an online business or you may operate your business out of your home. Using Google My Business is critical for service areas businesses because it lets your customers know that you operate in their area. Yes, you do have to give some physical address for Google to verify your business but the good thing about the verification process is that the address you give doesn’t have to be a storefront address. In other words, you can give Google your home address if your business doesn’t have its own physical address. But what if you don’t want to give out your home address?
Hiding your GMB Address
The process of listing your home address on Google My Business but keeping it invisible to the public is actually very easy:
- Navigate to the dashboard of your Google My Business Profile
- In the top right-hand corner, click the button that reads “Manage Now”
- Provide the business name information it asks for during the prompts
- Once you have filled out your business name information, you will be prompted to list an address for your business.
- List your home address or the residential address you wish to use
- Check the “I deliver goods and services to my customers” box
- Then, check the “Hide my address (it’s not a store) box
- Complete the setup process as normal
See? We told you it was easy. Now your business can be verified and your home address won’t be available for the public to see.
Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business listing without using a business address, it’s time to list the areas that you serve. Listing service areas on GMB is absolutely crucial for service area businesses. When people click on your Google My Business profile, they will see under the overview section whether or not you operate in their area. In fact, 97% of people will use online resources like Google My Business to research local businesses.
So you simply cannot afford to omit this step. Luckily, the process is pretty easy if not a bit tedious. Google My Business now allows you enter as many individual locations as you want when you set up your listing. In the setup wizard, you will come across a section titled, “Where do you serve your customers?” In the field they provide you can type in the names of the cities that you service. You can also enter zip codes if you want/have to be really specific.
Need More Answers?
We hope you have found our post helpful. Always remember that you don’t have to be pigeon-holed or hindered in any way if your business does not have a storefront address. Arm yourself with the answers and resources you need to thrive. Get in touch with us here at DataPins and let us help you grow your business.