SEO for multiple cities has always been of the most frustrating components of an online marketing strategy. Local businesses have an office address in one zip code and have trouble ranking for nearby cities that they regularly service. Considering the amount of work these businesses do in the nearby areas, it doesn’t seem fair.
This frustration was the impetus for creating DataPins, a Local SEO tool that helps contractors rank in multiple cities throughout their service areas. DataPins wraps schema check-ins, geo-coordinates, original images, and captions into a “pin” that gets published to the most relevant local landing pages.
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 (SABs), 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 can 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 ranking for multiple zip codes in 2023:
Google Maps Results Favor Address Proximity
Many local SEO experts have demonstrated that Google Map Pack rankings favor the local listing whenever possible. The location data is based on the verified address of your Google Business Profile. If you are a roofer whose business listing is set in Plano, TX, you will have trouble showing up for terms like dallas roofer, or roofer near me when the searcher’s device is pinged within a Dallas zip code.
See an example below:
Plano roofing companies will have a very difficult time ranking for queries containing “Dallas.”
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’ technology, 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:
It’s easier to rank outside of your address city on traditional organic results (with city pages)
Google Business Profile Service Area Challenges
Google Business Profile 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 your main zip code is notoriously difficult because Google prioritizes local searches based on which businesses 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 ten 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 its user experience, and location specification is a big part of that. That’s why it has been so difficult for service area businesses to get ranked in the areas that they serve.
The following guide examines the challenges related to Google Business Profile service area ranking. We will also discuss some ways you can overcome those challenges and be seen by more people outside the city where your business is physically located
Google Business Profile Areas Served
Google Business Profile 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 users happy, they struck this feature down. Now, it isn’t so easy to rank using the Google Business Profile service area feature, as many businesses have found out. But as Google shut one big door, they opened a window at the same time.
Service Area Businesses (SABs)
Service area businesses were thrilled when Google unveiled its new service area features. While it’s not as easy as expanding your area’s 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 Business Profile 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 Business Profile setup process.
You can list as many areas by name as you want in this section. The city names you enter will then appear under the Overview section of your Google Business Profile.
Zip Code SEO Rank
Business owners operating in large cities like Los Angeles and Dallas may encounter another challenge with their Google Business Profile service area. Cities like these are massive and have multiple zip codees within their specific areas and neighborhoods.
The problem is that 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 Business Profile service area is by not locking them into one area after they set up their profiles. You can go into your Google Business Profile dashboard and change the Storefront Address and Service Area sections as needed.
This is a great feature for growing businesses and frequently adding new cities to their service coverage area.
Projecting Future Google Business Profile Updates
The challenge of ranking outside one’s own zip code is just one in a series of many more. As Google endlessly finds ways to improve its service, there will surely be more changes to frustrate business 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, we must stay abreast of all such changes in ranking criteria and other marketing trends. Our software was designed to address these service area challenges specifically.
Can You Have A Google Listing With no Address?
So, can you be listed on Google Business Profile with no physical address? The simple answer is no. You cannot set up and verify your Google Business Profile with no physical address given. This is because a physical address is an important part of the Google Business Profile verification process.
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 once you verify your address through Google, you can mark your listing as a Service Area Business (SAB), which allows you to hide the verified address from the public.
You must verify your physical location with Google, but you can then hide it from the public
You Can Still Use Google Business Profile
Using the examples mentioned earlier in this post, you may run an online business or operate your business out of your home. Using Google Business Profile 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 Business Profile but keeping it invisible to the public is actually very easy:
- Navigate to the dashboard of your Google 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 Business Profile listing without using a business address, it’s time to list the areas that you serve. Listing service areas on GBP is absolutely crucial for service area businesses.
When people click on your Google Business Profile, they will see whether or not you operate in their area under the overview section. In fact, 97% of people will use online resources like Google Business Profile 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 to enter as many individual locations as you want when you set up your listing. In the setup wizard, you will see 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 pigeonholed 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. DataPins software is designed to improve SEO for multiple cities and help SABs rank in multiple zip codes throughout their service areas.