How to Set Up and Optimize a Service-Area Listing in Google My Business
In Google’s own words, a Google My Business profile is more than just a business listing.
The free profile makes it easy for businesses to connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, and is pretty much essential if you’re hoping to source new customers online.
Gaining visibility among a local audience is important for any type of business, but especially so for a service-area business (SAB), which may see its reach cover a very specific geographical radius, as well as offering targeted expertise or solutions to local consumers at a distance from its own home base.
What is a service-area business?
If you’re wondering what businesses are considered SABs, you aren’t alone.
There are lots of factors that go into determining what is or isn’t a service area business, but generally, a service area business is:
- A business without a physical store
- A business that serves at the customer’s location (hence the need for no physical store)
- A business that offers a service outside of its own immediate location
Confusingly, just because your business serves a specific area, doesn’t mean it will automatically be considered a service-area business for local SEO purposes.
The concept gets easier to grasp when you start thinking about, and apply it to, the work you do. If, for example, you’re a landscaper or you fit garage doors, those are services you provide at the customer’s location exclusively, so you’re a service-area business.
Of course, you might have a storefront where clients can come in and see your available garage door designs in person, but you’d still need to go to the client to provide the installation service, making you a service area business.
If you’re a handyman, pest controller, window cleaner or painter and decorator, you’re also a service-area business.
Service-area businesses in Google My Business
As a SAB, you’ll naturally have a geographical area where you can deliver your services.
It’s up to you to determine what that range is, but whether you serve clients within a 30-mile or 100-mile radius, your business will nonetheless operate within a particular zone and not beyond it.
Because you perform your service at your customer’s location, they don’t have to travel. That means they simply need to find a garage door installer who covers their zip code.
This means the customer is therefore less likely to perform a local business search for a garage door installer within a specific distance of their location – as would be the case if they had to travel to a physical store to obtain their new garage door.
SABs, like other local businesses, can appear in Google Maps and in the local pack. How they are set up, though, is a little different as you’ll need to specify the zip codes and cities that fall under your service area boundaries.
This may mean an extra step is required in the traditional process of setting up and optimizing a Google My Business profile, but it will benefit you in the long run.
With a standard GMB listing, your profile is built around your physical location, which may not accurately reflect the wider geographical area you serve.
Being able to specify those areas makes your GMB listing more accurate and more likely to rank for prospective clients further away from a physical store address, while still being covered by your service business zone in Maps and local search.
Let’s say your garage door business is based in Rochester, New York. A traditional Google My Business listing could mean that you don’t show up in local search for a homeowner looking for an installer in Buffalo, 66 miles away, even if it’s company policy to travel up to 100 miles to offer your service.
So in that case, you’d potentially miss out on winning a customer.
A GMB service-area listing places less emphasis on proximity and allows you to tell Google that you do service Buffalo and should be visible in local search for that customer.
How to set up a Google My Business profile for your service area business
Go to google.com/business. You’ll be presented with a screen that invites you to sign in or manage your business. To create a new listing, you’ll first need to verify that an existing profile isn’t in place. Click ‘manage’ and then, when prompted, add your business name to the search box. A drop-down list will appear, showing any businesses with that name with an existing GMB profile. For a new business, there shouldn’t be a listing in existence.
You’ll now be prompted to choose a business category. Enter just your main category for the moment as you can add additional ones later if appropriate.
Now, select specific services relevant to your offering. Google will provide a few suggestions to add to your profile, or you can input your own.
The next screen will ask you if you wish to add an address to your business listing.
This is an important step for your SAB profile creation – select ‘no’ if you are a pure service area business with no physical location (e.g. a showroom that customers would visit).
By opting out of providing a business address, your final listing on Maps and search will also be address-free. Instead, you’ll be asked to confirm the areas that your business services.
If you do have a showroom of some kind, you’ll need to add your address to your business listing.
Google will now ask you to define your service area. You can enter up to 20 locations here, using a mix of city names, zip codes, counties, and countries.
To ensure that your full service area is covered, choose a zip code that sits at the outer limit of that area.
You now need to provide your contact information – these details will be displayed on your public listing so ensure you’re inputting your business number rather than your own private cell phone.
You can also add your web address, opt out of having a local business website URL listed, or alternatively, ask Google to provide you with a free website. This is automatically built using the info you input when creating your Google My Business listing.
Your service area business profile is now set up, simply click “finish” to end the process.
Image Source: Moz
To see how the areas covered look to a local search user, navigate to the “info” section from your GMB dashboard. Here, you can click to “View on Search” or “View on Maps”.