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  1. #1
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    How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    How do you rank in other cities outside of the city your office or home office is in??? Since we have this topic come up often, here are a couple new articles by industry leaders I wanted to share. Then my opinions/tips below.

    1st up Mike Blumenthal's post from yesterday.

    Google Local SAB: How to Move Closer to the City

    Here are two screen shots to demonstrate the idea of moving an SAB closer to the nearby town even when located in a suburb. My wife’s at home business is located in Allegany NY but her primary business occurs in Olean, 8 miles to north and east of our home. The original choice of radius located the listing to the north of Olean. By changing from the radius to specific zip codes, it effectively moved the pin location to be within the city of Olean.
    I've cautioned before about adding multiple cities or zips to the service area section as it will put the map marker right in the middle, which could be a rural area or the desert depending. (Not in Mike's example above, but in others it does.)

    The other option Mike could test is to simply put the service area as Olean instead of Allegeny.
    If he entered Olean with 20 mile radius, that will put his wife's map marker right in the heart of downtown of Olean.


    I'm in San Marcos, a little town pretty far north of San Diego. I changed service area to San Diego as a test awhile back and it dropped my map marker right downtown - 30 miles away! If I were a painter that lived out in the burbs but my primary service area was the big metro, it could be advantageous. If someone searched and found me it would show I serve all of San Diego.

    As I've said before, I don't believe changing service area setting affects ranking. I don't think I would have ranked in San Diego, just because I changed the service area and I don't think Mike's wife would rank better in Olean just because service area is set there. It just affects that placement of the marker for listings with address hidden.

    However if someone is searching in such a way that she shows up on maps, her marker will be right there in the middle of town. Since the link to "more results" is now MIA, more folks may click maps to visually search for services and if she's shows centrally it could help her get more clicks.

    Some might wonder if it's a violation to put a different city in the service area settings. My take is that the setting is designed to show consumers the areas you serve, so if that other city IS the primary area you serve, then I don't think it's a problem. But I can't say I know absolutely it would not cause a problem and Google works in mysterious ways, so do your due diligence before trying.

    Next up Andrew Shotland's article today at SEland.

    5 Ways To Rank Outside Of Your Physical Location In Google Places

    When you set your service area in the Google Places Dashboard, you are given the option of either using (1) the “Distance from one location,” which sets your service area inside a circle with a specified radius from your location (e.g., 20 miles), or (2) submitting a list of areas served. I see businesses using the circle radius to set their location 90% of the time.

    But, there may be an advantage to submitting a list of zip codes instead. When you use the circle, you are basically saying everything within the circle is important, which may dilute your ability to rank anywhere in the circle by spreading yourself too thin, particularly as the radius gets bigger.

    If instead, you submit a list of zip codes that are targeted at specific polygons within the circle, this might improve your ability to rank for queries in those polygons. The downside of going this route is you may decrease your ability to rank for queries outside of the polygons.
    I don't work with service area businesses to be in a position to test any of this, but I have heard from pros I trust that using the city you are located in and the circle radius set at 20 miles yields the best results. Going wider won't help you rank in those other cities and some say waters down your ranking for your home city. Again I have not tested to know for sure, but based on what I know, I believe that's the best option.


    Tons of great info in both articles. What do you think?
    Anything to add or any questions?
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  2. #2
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Thanks for sharing those, Linda. Interesting articles and I'm curious as to how much, if any, moving the marker over to the center of the target city would help with rankings. I have a new client that I might try this out with. He works out of his home but wants to target a large nearby city for his services.

    I'm also wondering if you or anyone else knows what's the difference between using zip codes or city names when defining your service area. Some cities have multiple zip codes, so I'm thinking that by simply listing the city, you'll cover all of the bases. Unless there is some ranking benefit to using zip codes over city names.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Quote Originally Posted by David Deering View Post
    Interesting articles and I'm curious as to how much, if any, moving the marker over to the center of the target city would help with rankings. I have a new client that I might try this out with. He works out of his home but wants to target a large nearby city for his services.
    Please do before/after ranking report and let us know David.

    I really don't think it affects ranking at all. I was going to test with my listing but it's really not a good test for a couple reasons. Google doesn't usually show SEO related KWs in local PLUS my site is not optimized for local.

    I've thought about doing a G+L page for my house cleaning company, who does not have one, just so I have an SAB to test things with.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Deering View Post
    I'm also wondering if you or anyone else knows what's the difference between using zip codes or city names when defining your service area. Some cities have multiple zip codes, so I'm thinking that by simply listing the city, you'll cover all of the bases. Unless there is some ranking benefit to using zip codes over city names.
    Not sure, but I personally don't recommend using cities or zips partly due to fact it can drop marker to area that's not ideal. Like I said, recommend just city and 20 mile circle radius.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  4. #4
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Will do. In fact, I have another client that I can try this out with immediately. I'll let you know what I find.

    Listing the city and service area radius does sound like the easiest way to handle it, and as you said, the marker would be placed right in the middle of your target city. So I'll have to test both methods and see what difference it makes, if any. Thanks again.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
    Circle me on Google+ or follow us on Twitter

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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Mike said "Note that it will take up to 6 weeks for the changes to be reflected in the local search results."

    Not sure what that meant. Because I don't think it affects ranking and when I changed my service area the marker moved right away.

    So if you would, please do screenshot of marker before and after. Then lets track ranking a week after change and then again 6 weeks later just for good measure.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  6. #6
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    No problem, Linda. I'll keep you posted as to what I find.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
    Circle me on Google+ or follow us on Twitter

  7. #7
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Thanks David. And obviously we want rankings for the city they are in plus the target city.

    Because while I don't think it will HELP rankings for city 2 if you change radius to city 2, I do wonder if it would negatively impact searches for city 1 - the city they are located in. In case where city 1 is business location in a little town and city 2 is the major metro, may not be a biggie. But I would think if they only rank for city 1 they would not want that ranking to go down, even if it was a smaller city.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  8. #8
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Yep, no problem, Linda. I'll save and compare the rankings before and after the tweak to his Local page. I think this is a perfect "guinea pig" to test this theory out on, because he ranks very well in local results for his city but ranks horribly for the city that he wants to rank higher in. So we should be able to tell for sure whether this helps him or not. I'll keep ya posted.
    David @ Touch Point Digital | New Orleans Local SEO & Web Design
    Circle me on Google+ or follow us on Twitter

  9. #9
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Thanks for that really in-depth analysis Linda! Really helpful on this topic.

    Personally, I've always preffered to go down the "organic" route similar to the methods that Miriam outlines here:

    SEO Igloo Blog The Nitty Gritty Of City Landing Pages For Local Businesses

    and Phil here:

    16 Ways to Create Unique “Local” Content for Cities Where You Want to Rank

    -----So, really going to town on the On-page Optimisation and working on building links to the inner pages. Like Mike mentioned in the post though, it can be difficult and sometimes requires a bit of creativity and hard work.
    Last edited by Nick.SEOSpark; 05-13-2013 at 11:32 AM. Reason: modifed the 2nd link as it looked strange
    Nicholas Pratt | Director | Add me on Google+
    SEO Spark



  10. #10
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    Re: How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local

    Thanks for this great post, Linda!

    Question concerning the display of no address vs. address in a service area. Does it make a difference? Or is this more of a privacy thing? Would there be a benefit to not displaying the address and just promoting a service area? It would make sense that you would want both, but I just want to make sure.

    All the best!

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