A physical storefront is not a prerequisite for a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. Service area businesses (SABs) — or those that service a specified geographic area — can also benefit handsomely from GBP features. Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, however, there are a few additional idiosyncrasies to pay attention to, both during the setup phase and during the optimization phase as you strive to build a presence in local search. 

What defines a service area business?

Whereas customers come to a brick-and-mortar business, a service area business goes to the customer. Examples of SABs include:

  • Plumbers
  • Landscapers
  • Construction/Home Improvement Contractors
  • Delivery Services
  • Caterers

SABs might operate a physical location open to the public, such as a showroom or office, but they don't have to. Even if they do, showroom visitors aren't going to be the primary driver of revenue — phone calls and form submissions through their Google Business Profile listing and website landing pages are. 

Thus SABs have two main priorities:

  1. Clearly defining their service area
  2. Strategically targeting that area through local SEO 

How do I set my service area(s) in Google Business Profile?

GBP listing setup begins the same way for both brick-and-mortar businesses and SABs.

  1. Enter a business name
  2. Choose a business category
  3. Select all the relevant services you provide within that category.

Where the process deviates, of course, is in the provision of a physical address. If you are a brick-and-mortar business, you'll need to enter this information exactly as it appears on your physical signage, on your website, and in other local directories (see our previous post about citation building).

However, if you're an SAB, you will follow these steps:

  1. Leave the "Business Location" field blank
  2. Define up to 20 Google Business Profile service areas, using any combination of city/town names, zip codes, county names, or country names. It's recommended to include in this list at least one zip code that sits on the fringe of your operating limits to pull in search results from that area.

Next, whether you're a brick-and-mortar business or a service area business, you'll have the opportunity to add your website URL to your listing before clicking "finish." If you do not have a website URL, Google can generate a web page from the information provided for your GBP listing.

Note about hybrid businesses: If you're a hybrid business — for instance, a restaurant that delivers or a dog groomer that travels — you would still enter a business location and define the boundaries within which you deliver or travel through service areas. 

Local SEO strategy for service area businesses

Local SEO strategy for both SABs and brick-and-mortar businesses has the same foundation:

  1. A fully optimized GBP listing, giving your business a better chance of appearing in the Local 3 Pack on Google Maps or SERPs
  2. Landing page(s) from your GBP listing and other applicable Google channels that are accurately reflective of the products or services you offer.

As you start building on that foundation, though, our points of emphasis diverge a little. For a brick-and-mortar business, especially one with only a single location, proximity is paramount in local search rankings ("near me" queries in particular). For an SAB, queries you might appear for are more likely to correspond to a more generalized geographic area. The searcher could very well not be anywhere near that area, but perhaps planning to go there.

If your service area is broader and encompasses multiple cities or towns, or even a whole region, it could be a good idea to create city-specific landing pages to cater to these different clientele bases specifically (include geo-specific keywords on-page and in metadata). The bigger you are, though, the higher a priority you'll want to make organic SEO. 

Maximize your GBP listing with ASAPmaps

No matter what kind of local business you are, the importance of a fully realized GBP listing cannot be understated. High-quality and high-impact images and videos, regular Google Posts, social proof through Google Reviews, and thoughtful answers to frequently asked questions through the Q&A feature can all boost your local SEO profile considerably. Let ASAPmaps handle the details while you focus on dominating your specialty — wherever it takes you. 


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