Setting Up and Ranking A Service Area Business for Google My Business

How To Properly Setup Your Google My Business Listing As A Service Area Business and Get It Ranked In The Google Map Pack

Today we take a question from long-time-listener, first-time-caller Allison about setting up your Google My Business account as a service area business, and how that will affect your google ranking! We discuss what a service area business is, what sort of businesses would want to use this feature (and which ones definitely should not!) and how you can rank in spite of not listing your address publicly. Give this a listen today!

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What you’ll learn

  • How to set up your service area business in Google My Business.
  • The best practice for defining your service area.
  • The importance of reviews in increasing your click-through rate and thus your ranking.

Here is the Transcript for Episode 71, Setting Up and Ranking Your Service Area Business for Google My Business Listings;

Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here with another solo episode for you without Bob Brennan. If anybody hasn’t checked out the last episode, number 70, I believe it was, with Kyle Roof, inventor, founder, not sure exactly what the title is, but Kyle Roof of PageOptimizer Pro, check that out. Bob is on there as well. It was a really good episode talking with Kyle and Bob.

And if you don’t know what PageOptimizer Pro is, I’ll just take a second there to probably pump that up, we use it ourselves at our agency. It’s an awesome tool for optimizing your web pages and getting them set up to rank better in Google. So check that out. I believe actually the last two episodes, number 69 and 70, are focused on PageOptimizer Pro. Check those out, a ton of great information there.

But yeah, back here with another solo episode in the quarantine 2020 era. Up here in Minnesota, we’re still being encouraged to be socially distanced as much as possible through the winter season here. So Bob will be sprinkled in in some future episodes here. But yeah, going solo here this week.

So this week here, we’re going to answer a question from Allison. Allison is a Local SEO Tactics podcast listener and called in with a question that we’re going to play here in a little bit, particularly about setting up a service area business for her Google My Business listing and talking about getting that ranked and if there’s challenges and how to overcome those.

So yeah, if you don’t set up your service area business properly, it can be tricky to rank, and you’re going to have some problems. So we’re going to cover some of those obstacles and tell you what you need to do if you’re a service area business, and how to get that set up in Google My Business properly, and some steps to start getting ranked for that to show up in the map pack, which is not impossible to do. Some people think that it makes a big difference, but if you do it the right way, you can have some great results.

Actually, before we get into that, I should start off like we always do talking about our Free Instant SEO Audit tool. Go on out to localseotactics.com. In the top right corner, you’ll see a yellow button, Free Instant SEO Audit. You can grade your web pages, any page on your website, or you can use it on a competitor’s site as well, if you want to kind of reverse engineer what they’re doing. Plug in your page, plug in your keyword, and it’s going to give you a punch list of some things to focus on. Some things are going to be particular to that page. Some things are going to be more global for your website in general. But it’s kind of a great starting point for getting your SEO game ratcheted up a notch. So go check that out, again, localseotactics.com, top right corner, yellow button, Free SEO Audit.

All right, so here, we’re going to dive into setting up your Google My Business as a service area business. First thing we want to cover is what the heck does that mean? So when you set up your Google My Business listings, there are three ways that you can set it up. One is as a service area business, one is as a storefront, and one is a hybrid of the two. We have a lot of other episodes that talk a lot more in depth about Google My Business, how to set it up, how to optimize it, things like that. We’re not going to rehash all of that in this episode. But in this episode, we are going to touch on some of those things that relate to specifically setting up the service area business and getting it ranked.

So like I said, there’s those three main kind of types of Google My Business listings. The service area business is one that does not have a storefront. If you do have a storefront, that’s going to be a storefront business. You’re going to show your address online in your Google My Business listing. And per Google’s terms, that’s basically if you have a business where people do come to you, you do have a storefront. Maybe it’s a showroom, maybe you’re a restaurant, you have some kind of a service counter, whatever it is. If you have customers that come to your location, your physical location, to transact and do business, then you should be a storefront, and you should show your address and set up your business that way.

If you’re a service area business, a true service area business, what that means is people do not come to you, that all of your business is performed at the customer location or out in the field, so to speak. You can still have a corporate office. If you operate out of your home, that’s fine. You’re a service area business. Maybe you have a corporate office, that’s fine. You can still be a service area business.

There’s kind of a misnomer out there that service area business means you’re operating just out of your home or some kind of a shared office space, things like that. That’s not the case. In Google’s eyes, what they’re saying is it means that you perform your business out in the field, not at your location. So that’s kind of the difference between a storefront business and a service area business.

A hybrid is something that will do both. Maybe you’re a plumber, essentially you do all of your work out there in the field at the customer locations. But if you have a service desk, maybe you sell some parts or some equipment or shower heads or things like that, whatever it is, you can be a hybrid. So you can be both. You can have a service area and you can have a storefront.

So for this episode here, and for Allison’s question, what we’re going to be talking about is specifically setting up a service area business. So we’ll play Allison’s call here so you can hear what she has to say, and then we’ll talk about it a little bit more in depth here and answer her question.

Allison: Hi, I’m Allison. I’m a wedding planner. My business is called A Bride’s Best Mate. I’m Australian, so that makes sense, I guess. I’m just new to setting up myself online. I work out of home, so I don’t want to include my business address because it’s my home address. Is there still a way I can work out Google search optimization and get into that map pack without having my actual real life address listed? That’s my question. Sorry, if you already covered it. I only just started listening, and I’m very excited to keep going through.

Jesse Dolan:Allison, first of all, thanks for listening, and thanks for submitting the question. Everybody else out there, we’ve talked about it in previous episodes, but if you have a question, we would love to hear it. Just to go to localseotactics.com, down in the bottom left corner, you can submit a question. We would love for you to leave some audio like Allison did. You just call in on the phone number that we’ll have down there. Or if you want to submit it, just filling out the form. Basically, if you’re having a problem or a question or you have a topic you want us to cover that’s in your mind, it’s going to be beneficial for everybody else too, so we would love to hear that. Reach out to us, localseotactics.com, down in that left corner.

And if we do use your question or topic on the show here, we’re going to send you a free Intrycks T-shirt. If you’re watching on video on YouTube, you can check it out. I’m holding it up right now, showcasing it. Pretty snazzy T-shirt, super comfortable too, nice soft T-shirt. So enough pumping that up, but we’d love to hear from you. So submit that if you can. Allison, again, thanks for doing that. And hopefully your business is doing good. We have covered a little bit of this in previous episodes, but I’m happy to dive into it specifically here for you.

So basically what you’re going to want to do then, Allison, since you don’t want to show your address, it’s your home, and you meet the criteria like we were just talking to where you don’t have a storefront, then you’re going to want to make sure you set up as a service area business.

Now, for everybody else out there as well, if you’ve already set up your Google My Business listing, what you want to do to convert to a service area business, maybe you’re not set up like that right now, but you need to be or want to be, what you’re going to want to do is you’re going to want to go in there, log into your Google My Business, and you’re going to want to clear the address or hide the address. If you go into your information or the info tab up in the top left corner, once you log in, you’ll find the spot where you can kind of modify your address and things like that. You’re going to have the option to clear your address. And when you click that, that’s what’s going to make you a service area business. Your address will no longer show on Google.

Now, depending on the category that you had previously set up for your business, that may be a conflict. So if you have kind of tried to be a little spammy and take advantage of some of the business categories in Google My Business, be aware and use some logic here if you switch to a service area business. For example, let’s just say if you’re an auto repair shop, logically speaking, auto repair shop is going to have customers coming to them. You’re not going to go to the customer’s location to perform the repair. So Google knows that a auto repair shop is not going to be a service area business.

So what we’ve seen is in that kind of a case, if you change to be a service area business, you could be in jeopardy of getting your Google My Business listing suspended from Google because it looks suspicious. You’re doing some kind of a weird activity. You wouldn’t be a service area business and an auto repair shop. That just doesn’t jive. So just use some caution there and take a second to look at your categories and what you’re doing.

In Allison’s case, I’m sure her business is set up properly with the business categories in Google My Business, and that’s not going to be a problem. But just a word of caution to you out there, if you already have your listing set up, if you’re going to switch to service area business by clearing your address, make sure that you don’t have any categories that really legitimately would require customers to come to you. If it’s gray area, if you’re unsure, you’re probably safe. But if this is something where, yeah, this requires customers to come to the business location, then you’re going to be in jeopardy.

If you have questions on that, you can reach out to us. Again, go out to the show page, localseotactics.com. Contact us through that. Happy to give you some advice as always on that before you make any moves that you’re unsure of.

So like I said, if you already have a business set up in Google My Business, that’s how you would switch to be a service area business. If you’re setting this up for the first time entering in your information to Google My Business, they’re going to prompt you with a question saying, “Do you want to set up a storefront? Do you want to set up a place where customers can come to you?” And you would choose no or not check the box in that case, and then it’s going to default to being a service area business.

If you’re going to be a business that’s the hybrid of the two, then you’re going to still have your storefront, so don’t clear your address, but you’re going to set up your service area, which is the next thing here that we’re going to get into.

So let’s just say, skip the hybrid thing for a second, let’s just say that you’ve cleared your address or you set yourself up to be a service area business on the front side, now you’re going to set your service area. Google needs to know, if you don’t have a physical location that customers are coming to, where do you serve? And this is your chance to identify that and communicate that to Google.

Basically you have a spot to pick, and you can do multiples on this as well, pick your area. You can define it by the state or states, multiple. You can do counties within the states. And you can do cities. I believe you can also do zip codes too. Go ahead and pop all those in there. And really, let’s just say, if you’re in an area and you have 50 suburbs, you want to cover this wide, big, maybe it’s like Dallas-Fort Worth type area, and you want to name all these suburbs. You’re not going to have space to do that. I forget the exact number off hand. I probably should have looked it up before this episode. But it’s not an infinite number.

So something to remember is if you’re in that case where you need to list a bunch of cities, maybe list the counties instead. Or understand that when you put the service area out there, it’s going to kind of form like a geometric shape, so if you must choose, and you have to pick, try to plot out the outer edges of that. Don’t focus on putting a bunch of them right in the middle and then a few on the edge because at the end you’re going to see on your Google maps listing kind of a, like I said, a geographic shape that defines your service area. And essentially, you’re going to kind of build a fence around that, if that’s what you have to do.

I wouldn’t recommend that. I would much rather list the counties to identify that you service this entire county and kind of make your shape and your service area that way, instead of using that fencing method. But I’ve seen people do that successfully as well.

So again, you’re going to set your service area, pick your states, pick your counties, pick your cities. You don’t have to do both of those. That’s kind of like pick a version or the other. You don’t need to be redundant in there. But go ahead and take advantage of that, if you’re a service area business, that’s all you’re doing. If you are that hybrid model, you’re going to keep your address, and you’re going to keep your storefront, but then you’re also going to go in there and set that service area. And again, you can do that through the info tab on your Google My Business listing.

Okay, so now that you have your listing set up as a service area, that’s kind of part of Allison’s question, how do you set it up if you are… She didn’t say that. But can you set it up this way? Yes. Now, we want to do some things to start to optimize that and start to get ranked in the map pack, which you can absolutely do.

Now, I should pause there with an asterisks. Again, let’s talk about like auto repair shop. If you’re trying to compete as a service area business against businesses for keywords that are more of a traditional storefront business like an auto repair shop, if you got an idea you’re going to launch auto repair that goes to somebody’s house to fix their vehicles, it’s going to be tough. Because if somebody is Googling, “Radiator repair Los Angeles,” Google knows that’s for auto repair shops, and they’re probably going to be serving up actual storefront auto repair shops, not somebody who would come to the house to fix it.

So if you’re a service area business that’s competing in a space dominated by storefront businesses, your SEO is going to be pretty tough. You’re going to have an uphill climb here. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but just be aware of that.

But aside from that, one of the first things that we always recommend you start doing on your Google My Business is getting reviews. The reason for that is user generated content is huge in the eyes of Google. Really SEO is about sending signals to Google about who you are as a business, what you do as a business, and that you are a legitimate, real business to gain that trust, so they can then serve you up in results.

One of the number one things you can do in that way is getting reviews. I mean, people are literally approving your business and giving you a rating, and hopefully they’re good reviews to boot on top of it. So that would be the first thing to do for Allison or for anybody else once you set up your service area business is start contacting clients, former clients, people that you’ve interacted with and collaborated with and get reviews on your Google My Business listing.

Even further is if they can mention the city or the area that you want to be found in. So let’s just say you’re trying to get maybe a reach of within 30 miles of where your business is physically located, your home in this case for Allison, and if you want to be reaching to those suburbs that are a little bit further out, if you can coach somebody, “Hey, Dave, could you leave me your review? I really appreciate it. I think we gave you five-star service in the past. I’ve got this set up for my Google My Business now, and I could use a few reviews to kind of kick it off. I’d really appreciate that. And by the way, if you could mention that I did service for you in Austin, Texas,” or whatever the city is, “that would really help as well.”

We find that coaching people, asking for help, is really something that’s maybe a little uncomfortable, but something you can totally do. And we’ve talked about this in previous episodes. We call it the Mr. Rogers approach, really asking people to help you instead of asking for a review just for the purpose of getting a review. And if you’re doing that and you’re doing it properly, you should be able to coach them and ask them to include certain things like the keywords or the products or the services that you provided and the city that you want to be found for or that you provided the service in.

So definitely start getting reviews, start coaching people, and start getting reviews in that way. And even further, if you can get them to add a photo to the review, maybe it’s showing the thing that you fixed or the thing that you did, or an Allison’s case, the event or some pictures of what it was, the setup, that would be spectacular because that’s even more user generated content that you’re showing to Google.

And Google really trusts user generated content, especially if you have that en masse or multiple people. Because you can imagine logically, that’s a huge trust factor. That really shows Google that not just the business owner is trying to optimize this page, but users are providing kind of the same feedback, the same information, and reinforcing that message. So that’s the A1, number one, without a doubt thing to start doing once you get your Google My Business set up is start getting reviews, and then trying to do those things that I just mentioned to really kind of kick it in the butt and get your rankings going up.

So now, within the SEO industry, there is some debate and some different opinions on whether reviews themselves just straight up help your rankings or not. And I’m not really going to get into that, but what I will tell you is even if they don’t, getting reviews will help your click-through rates.

So let’s say if you’re third place in the map pack, and you have more reviews or a better score than people that are first or second, if people start clicking on your listing in the third spot, skipping over number one and number two, Google’s going to bump you up because they’re seeing you’re favored. You are what people are choosing, and Google will flip flop those rankings for you. So even if it doesn’t directly help your SEO rankings right off the bat, it will over time through that user behavior, that user interaction. So without a doubt, again, if I haven’t said it 10 times, I’ll say it for the 10th time here, get reviews as your number one thing for your Google My Business.

And outside of that, Allison, the next things I would do is take advantage of all the other areas within that Google My Business listing and trying to work in the keywords for the products and services you sell and the cities that you want to be servicing. Write your Google My Business description, take advantage of that. Start doing Google posts, Google offer posts. And again, we’ve got other episodes that cover these in more depth on how to do that, again, mentioning your geographic areas and the products and services within those as well. Google question and answer is another great one. And just really anything that’s in your Google My Business, try to fill it out, optimize it, have some logic for what you’re typing in there. And that’s going to get you off to a real good headstart.

So Allison, hopefully that helps you out. Everybody else, if you’re in a similar boat with Allison, hopefully there’s some value in that for you there as well. Again, like I had said earlier, if you need help with any of this, we do do this as a service. We are a digital marketing agency, an SEO agency, feel free to reach out to us if you need help. Go to localseotactics.com and you can contact us from there.

All right, so let’s get into our five-star review of the week. If you’re a new listener, I’ll say it here for the first time, and if you’ve listened to any of our other episodes, I’ll bore you with this spiel again, but we love getting reviews. I mean, who doesn’t? We just talked about the importance of reviews, but we read one on every episode. As long as we keep getting good five-star reviews from you folks out there, we’re going to read them. And for us, this is the tangible way to know that people are actually listening to this thing. We can count the number of downloads and views that we get on the videos and in the podcast stats, but actually getting reviews from you folks out there, that’s the feedback that we really like to get. Because otherwise, this is a strictly one way deal where you’re just listening to us rant and talk about things.

So if you’re so inclined, and if you like the podcast, we would love for you to take a second and go leave a review. Again, just like everything else, you can find all those resources on localseotactics.com. Go down to the bottom. You can leave a review. There’s a button, and that’s going to connect you to whatever portal it is that you want to leave a review on. We’d really appreciate it. And we’re going to read it on the show.

This one here we have from MJ Koper, I think, M-J K-O-P-E-R. It says, “Great information. This podcast has some great information and enjoyable to listen to. Thanks.” Super short and sweet, but we really appreciate it and right to the point. I hope everybody else out there that you enjoy listening and that we’re bringing you value too, and we’d love to hear from you. I think that pretty much does it for this episode. Thanks for checking out, everybody, and we’ll catch you next time.

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