How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local


Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,283
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?
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
204
Likes
69
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.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,283
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.

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.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
204
Likes
69
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.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,283
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

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,283
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.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
204
Likes
69
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.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
361
Likes
63
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:

[h=1]16 Ways to Create Unique “Local” Content for Cities Where You Want to Rank[/h]

-----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:
Joined
Apr 29, 2013
Messages
9
Likes
0
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!
 

Colan Nielsen

Administrator
Administrator
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
2,895
Likes
881
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.
It boils down to whether or not the business has in-person contact with their customers at their business location. If you don't, you must hide your address. If you do, you don't have to hide your address.

Google is concerned with the users experience. So by making this particular type of SAB hide their address, they are preventing a potential negative user experience. An example might be a potential customer who drives across town to check out a business that they found on G+ Local only to realize that it's someones house and they only serve clients out in a service area and NOT at their home.

I'm sure there are other reasons for the hide address rule, but this seems to be the one talked about most often.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,286
Likes
669
@Linda

I agree. Mike's suggestion is a good way to move the map marker in if its placement might be confusing customers, but it ain't gonna help rankings.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,283
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.
MUST hide address if service area business and especially if home business. Hindreds of thousands of listings have been deleted for violating the guideline. Many were down for months. See our service area business section for tons more info.

DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU SEE CUSTOMERS THERE - if its a home address better hide.

Here's a recent email I shared with Miriam Ellis who asked me about this.

Yes guidelines state "if you don't see customers at your location"... But if that was really true and worked then every business would simply 'say' I sometimes see clients here and be safe. Nope, not safe at all.

Here is the reality IMO. Let's say it's a carpet cleaner, which is one where I've heard this come up a lot. They normally work on-site but they occasionally have clients come to house to pay bills OR drop off big oriental rugs for cleaning. So they say "we DO see customers here occasionally, so should not have to hide address".

The moderation STARTs with map view. How can they tell from maps that 'this' carpet cleaner operating out of 'this' house sees customers at his house and these other 32 carpet cleaners operating out of 'their' houses do not?

Here is what happens. Google does a sweep of an area or industry. Moderators look on maps. If it looks like a house they in the past sometimes just deleted it without even verifying. Or sometimes they call. BUT if they call they sometimes ask trick questions like "Is this a storefront?" The wife answering the phone says "No"

CLICK - DELETE!

Or they ask "Do you see customers at your location" the wife/secretary at the house with 3 kids says "Not, usually but who's calling and why are you asking?"

CLICK - DELETE!

Or they call 3 times and get no answer cuz the owner is always out with customers. They will only try to call 3 times I believe. So...

CLICK - DELETE!

I've helped hundreds or thousands that were deleted and many were down for months. I can show you TONs of cases in the G forum where all of the above have happened multiple times. I say - when in doubt ESPECIALLY if home address, be safe not sorry and hide your ass! (err address)

Now having said all that, I'm sure you guys saw in Mike's most recent blog post that Joel said something about no longer deleting SABs. But I personally would still not risk it and if I had a client that wanted to insist on showing address - especially if home-based and especially if in target SAB industries. I'd get a written disclaimer saying I warned them of the potential consequences and won't be held responsible for problems that could arise.

Granted I work on the seamy underbelly of local since I mainly deal with troubleshooting and problems all day, helping people recover from suspended listings or asking why their listing was deleted - so I may be overly cautious because I see so many problems.

BUT I DIGRESS - This thread is about ranking in other cities. If anyone wants to discuss hiding address please start a new thread in the service area business section and we'll discuss there. :)
 

Dave Cosper

Forum Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2012
Messages
34
Likes
8
Thank you for posting these articles, Linda. I really like the "Areas We Serve" drop-down suggestion from Darren Shaw.
 

Similar threads


Local Search Forum


Weekly Digest
Subscribe/Unsubscribe


Google Product Exert

@LocalSearchLink

Join Our Facebook Group

Top