Google Places and Service Areas

Google has finally added options for business owners to set their service areas, as reported a couple weeks ago by Matt McGee. Today it officially rolls out, again, along with a re-branding of the Local Business Center, now simply called Google Places.

The service area is great for those businesses that work from a home address they would rather not display, or businesses that serve multiple areas from one physical location, which is very common in larger metro areas (think plumbers, landscapers, remodeling contractors, interior decorators, etc..). Up till now many of those businesses targeting multiple cities had to resort to obtaining unique addresses and phone numbers in those other cities, often through UPS box addresses, a practice Google now frowns upon.

The question is, how are rankings influenced by these new service area settings? Will a business located in “City A”, yet services the adjacent “City B” to the north, be able to rank for City B search queries when all its citation sources mention City A? It’s too early to tell and for some of my clients that this is well suited too I’m a little hesitant incredibly hesitant to make any changes as they already rank well. Perhaps the next fresh client becomes the guinea pig.

10 Comments on “Google Places and Service Areas”

Chris Silver Smith on April 24th, 2010 wrote:

One would really hope that the service area setting would allow a company equal chance to rank for a city search, along with the other companies which have a physical store within the city.

However, I expect that keyword relevancy will also continue to play into it heavily, so I don’t believe merely opting into service area will do the job alone – it will still be advantageous to actually list the city names on your site where you’d like to be found within search. This would also give the added benefit of enabling ranking within regular keyword search results.

As you indicate, this is an area for ongoing testing and observation. Too early to really base much on assumptions!

Stever on April 24th, 2010 wrote:

Keyword relevancy is exactly what I thought would remain a hindrance to ranking in other nearby cities.

Besides having those location keywords on the website, the additional information fields in the Places page for that business should be used to list those cities so that maps listing has the keyword relevance in it as well.

On top of that, I suspect the number of citations, reviews, user content, etc… would need to be higher to create a stronger profile for that business helping it to rank in the other cities.

Brian on May 10th, 2010 wrote:

When the IYP sites follow suit, it seems we’ll lose the address portion of the name-address-phone citation combo that previously led to reinforcing feedback among these sites.

Chris Silver Smith on May 10th, 2010 wrote:

Actually, some IYPs have had an equivalent to “service area” options for a great many years already, which is why Google Maps’ lack in offering the product stood out so strongly.

Superpages.com allowed businesses to purchase additional “geographic reach”, allowing them to appear county-wide, state-wide, multi-city, multi-state, etc.

Jason on May 18th, 2010 wrote:

Any thoughts on building citations with a company set up as a service area?

Stever on May 18th, 2010 wrote:

@Jason, at this time the new service area function appears to have ZERO influence on rankings inside or outside the immediate city name location for that business. But I expect that to change at some point in the future (one month, 6 months, 2 years, who knows??).

My initial thoughts are to build up your citations such that you are a very strong listing inside your actual city and by the time Google starts using service area to show businesses that may service once city but are actually located in the city next door then your super strong listing may stand a chance at ranking for those searches in other locations you service. If and when Google goes that route.

Chotrul SEO on March 1st, 2011 wrote:

I have a business that pretty much falls inbetween the two categories for service areas and business locations, and am wondering which is the best route to go, rankings wise?

Would you recommend putting your locations into service areas rather than actual business locations in orde to get higher Google Place rankings for them?

many thanks indeed for sharing this post.

Stever on March 1st, 2011 wrote:

@Chotrul, or Mark Carter

Service areas still do nothing to influence rankings, but you can still include it. Just don’t opt to hide your address location as that can kill your rankings. actually, seems hiding your location no longer tanks your rankings >> http://blumenthals.com/blog/2010/11/03/google-places-search-hiding-address-no-longer-buries-listing/

Yelp Beats Google to Service Area based Rankings | GEO Local SEO on March 1st, 2011 wrote:

[...] a year ago Google added the ability to set a service area for local businesses in Google Places. At the time there was speculation as to how it might influence rankings and many local SEO’s [...]

Chotrul SEO on March 5th, 2011 wrote:

Hi there … many thanks for your reply that service areas are no longer killing off rankings, and for the useful link. It is extremely problematic having a business with locations over an entire country, yet unable to show the address. Some businesses simply operate that way, and contact needs to be by phone. Ultimately that doesn’t seem to fit very comfortably with Google Places’ model.

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