Home Digital Marketing Does a Physical Location vs Service Area Affect Your GMB Rankings?

Does a Physical Location vs Service Area Affect Your GMB Rankings?

by Kyle Southwick

We live in a world where our work environment is constantly changing. Many wonder about the impacts of having a physical location versus a service area for their business. Would a physical location affect your GMB rankings? Google Business Profile (also known as Google My Business, or GMB) allows users to add their business, regardless of whether they have a physical location or not. First, let’s explore the three different types of local businesses:

  1. Physical Location Business: Businesses operating out of their physical location where customers visit and do not offer any services where they would travel to a service area. Example: Hotel, Hair Salon.
  2. Service Area Business (SAB): Businesses with no physical location and only serves customers at their home or business location. Example: Landscaper, Plumber.
  3. Hybrid Business (Physical Location and Service Area): These types of businesses operate out of their physical location where customers can visit. They also have a service area where they perform their services. Example: Restaurant offering dine-in and delivery ordering, roofing company with a showroom and installation services.

Understanding the differences between the three types of local businesses listed above should help when setting up your Google Business Profile. In this article, we will discuss answers for common questions about GMB that local businesses may encounter.

Does Having a Physical Location Affect Your GMB Rankings?

Many local businesses will have the following question: Does having a physical location affect your rankings? It depends. The decision of whether to list your physical location or not should be based on the type of business. It is not necessarily an SEO strategy decision. Based on the information above, you can match your local business to what type of business it falls under. Once the type is determined, you can proceed to optimize the profile accordingly.

How Do Service Areas Affect GMB Rankings?

There are some businesses that are searched for based on proximity (“near me” searches). Keep in mind that businesses near a searcher’s specific location tend to rank higher because of proximity to the location. Which makes sense – Google wants to show the best businesses near the location to cater to the searcher’s intent.

As mentioned above, service area businesses (SAB’s) won’t have a physical location listed on GMB. Users can add up to 20 different locations within the profile. This means that your business is eligible to come up within the local map pack of Google when a user performs a search within that area. However, does setting a service area guarantee you will rank in that area? No, it is merely showing Google where you perform your services geographically. If you are looking for how to get better results out of your verified GMB profile, check out this article for some useful tips. Once the profile is optimized properly, an SAB should have the same opportunity to rank than any other business unless a proximity search is performed. 

Some hybrid local businesses might ask: “What if my target service area is an area outside of my physical location or the city/town I am located in?”. Depending on the search, Google can sometimes favor businesses based on the proximity of the business in relation to the searchers location. In turn, you could see some SAB’s rank lower because there is no specific location set. If your business has a physical location, but is outside of your desired service area, here are a few things you could try to help you rank in your service area:

Get an Address

One obvious way to help improve rankings in your desired service area is to obtain an address within that area. This would allow your business to claim a Google Business Profile within that area. As a more costly approach, this may not be possible for some small businesses. As discussed earlier, obtaining an address is especially beneficial for searches based on proximity,

Targeted Keyword Strategy

Finding and optimizing your website for long-tail keywords can help improve visibility in other services areas. This can give your business more visibility for less competitive keywords. Although there is less search volume, decreasing the amount of competition will provide more opportunities to reach the first page of search engines.

Service Area Website Pages

Another way to achieve first page visibility is by creating a service area page on your business’s website. Although this is more directly related to onsite SEO work for organic search results, it could prove beneficial to the overall goal. Service area pages show Google what you would like to be relevant for and where you want to perform work for customers.

These ideas can help improve your business’s reach outside of your normal service area. You could try implementing these ideas for your website and GMB to drive additional traffic and revenue for your business.

Why Is an Optimized GMB Important?

When performing a search on Google, users will likely see business profiles first in the SERPs, especially for local searches. What does it mean to have an optimized profile? First, it means the business is claimed and verified with Google. It also means the profile includes things like accurate information, excellent reviews, and high quality photos. Business profiles with these optimizations tend to rank higher within the local map pack section of the Google SERP. Ensuring your business profile stays updated with these optimizations is critical for your online presence and local SEO efforts.

How to Claim and Verify a Business on Google

With many different types of businesses in the world, Google created a way to construct and verify nearly any type of business. Anywhere from contractors, bakeries, to financial coaches, there is a way for all of these businesses to claim and verify their business on Google. Here is how you can claim and verify your GMB with and without a physical location:

Businesses without a Physical Location

As you follow the steps from this article, keep in mind that you will be asked the following: “Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?”. If your business does not want to list a physical location, mark “No”. Google will ask for your desired service area, you can list up to 20 different locations on the profile. The business will be listed without any pin or address shown. 

Once you follow these steps, Google will go through their selected verification process. The verification process depends on the location and type of business. Keep in mind that your business may need to provide a physical address (such as a home address) for verification. This address won’t be tied to a physical location listed on the profile. Upon verification, your business will go live on Google! You can then work to optimize the reviews, products/services, photos, and more. 

Businesses with a Physical Location

If your business has some sort of physical location that can be added to the profile, mark “Yes” when asked the question: “Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?”. Even if customers do not frequently visit the business at the location, it could still be important to list with a physical location. If a keyword search is based on proximity (“near me” search), adding a location will help increase the chance of ranking if the search happens close-by.

When listing the physical location, Google may want to verify through postcards or pictures of the business at the location. With a physical location, your business can still add service areas if your business offers services at the location and within the service area. Once verified, follow the same steps mentioned above to fully optimize the profile. Keep in mind that Google does not allow businesses to use P.O. boxes of any kind for verification.

Optimize Your GMB Listing Today

Understanding best SEO practices for Google Business Profile is a great way to help improve the visibility of your business. Knowing if a physical location will affect your GMB rankings can help your overall digital marketing strategy. You can start the process of optimizing your Google Business Profile today to help drive more sales for your business. If you need help with optimizing your GMB or other local listings, our business listing professionals are here to help. Learn more today about Manta’s affordable local SEO services that can help your business grow!

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