Service Areas and Physical Address

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Aug 9, 2012
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363
Hey Bobby,

I think we all agree with your premise that "location authority, and prominence can in fact influence and improve rankings for a location that's further out on the radius spectrum / outer regions of a city. " Absolutely. 100%. I think we all also recognize that it's not an easy feat to accomplish. Getting a client to rank in a super wide radius is kind of like the holy grail of local SEO.

My take on this is that the work you did to increase location authority and prominence is what increased your rankings. I suspect that you would have had the same effect with or without adding the service areas. I suspect this, because I have personally tested adding/removing service areas a few times, on locations that had authority, and I didn't see any impact.

But my tests are just a tiny drop in the pool of possibilities. I am not 100% convinced that there is no impact (I'm about 98% convinced). If you have data to the contrary, then I would LOVE to be proven wrong. If the industry is holding assumptions that are wrong, and you present evidence to show that these assumptions are wrong, then that's a major win for everyone. I love it when that happens. It's the best.

So yes, please, let's do the test I suggested. If we take out the service areas and we see a drop in rankings, then that will be some evidence that the service areas were providing some benefit. If we take out the service areas and rankings don't change at all, then I will remain at 98% convinced that they have no impact.

FYI, according to Google, the reason for setting the service areas is simply to show your customers on the map what area you serve. The purpose of setting them is so that Google can draw this map on your listing:


Looking forward to testing this with you!
 

BipperMedia

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@BipperMedia I elected to remove my post out of respect to my friend and colleague Joy.
I would recommend you have more respect for the SEO industry as a whole... not just your friends. I really don't appreciate what took me 2 years and a lot of work to achieve... being otherwise portrayed as child's play.
 

BipperMedia

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Jan 13, 2019
Messages
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Hey Bobby,

I think we all agree with your premise that "location authority, and prominence can in fact influence and improve rankings for a location that's further out on the radius spectrum / outer regions of a city. " Absolutely. 100%. I think we all also recognize that it's not an easy feat to accomplish. Getting a client to rank in a super wide radius is kind of like the holy grail of local SEO.

My take on this is that the work you did to increase location authority and prominence is what increased your rankings. I suspect that you would have had the same effect with or without adding the service areas. I suspect this, because I have personally tested adding/removing service areas a few times, on locations that had authority, and I didn't see any impact.

But my tests are just a tiny drop in the pool of possibilities. I am not 100% convinced that there is no impact (I'm about 98% convinced). If you have data to the contrary, then I would LOVE to be proven wrong. If the industry is holding assumptions that are wrong, and you present evidence to show that these assumptions are wrong, then that's a major win for everyone. I love it when that happens. It's the best.

So yes, please, let's do the test I suggested. If we take out the service areas and we see a drop in rankings, then that will be some evidence that the service areas were providing some benefit. If we take out the service areas and rankings don't change at all, then I will remain at 98% convinced that they have no impact.

FYI, according to Google, the reason for setting the service areas is simply to show your customers on the map what area you serve. The purpose of setting them is so that Google can draw this map on your listing:


Looking forward to testing this with you!
We'll see what happens
 

JoyHawkins

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2,985
But my tests are just a tiny drop in the pool of possibilities. I am not 100% convinced that there is no impact (I'm about 98% convinced). If you have data to the contrary, then I would LOVE to be proven wrong. If the industry is holding assumptions that are wrong, and you present evidence to show that these assumptions are wrong, then that's a major win for everyone. I love it when that happens. It's the best.
Darren - I'm so glad you chimed in on this thread. I couldn't have stated that any better. I know for a fact that I've tested and seen things make an impact that the industry preaches don't impact anything. Also, stuff changes, so it's important to always be testing! I'm excited to see what you find and grateful for this forum to give us a place to talk about stuff like this.
 

BipperMedia

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Darren - I'm so glad you chimed in on this thread. I couldn't have stated that any better. I know for a fact that I've tested and seen things make an impact that the industry preaches don't impact anything. Also, stuff changes, so it's important to always be testing! I'm excited to see what you find and grateful for this forum to give us a place to talk about stuff like this.
Likewise, I am excited to see the results and I appreciate you @whitespark for offering up the tools to help with this study.

One thing I request (if I may) is that I'm given equal access to the tools, data, etc.. that you are deploying for this test from your end -- just to ensure the test / results are not biased toward your hypothesis that setting service areas has zero impact on presence and productivity.

Is that a fair request?

I ask this because we are going in to this with directly opposite hypotheses... I believe service areas play a role with sufficient amounts of authority, you (with "you" representing what sounds like everyone else in this thread) believing that service areas have zero impact.

I guess we can talk about this offline, but I don't know if we'll talk or not - so I'm just putting my request here.

Thank you,

Bobby
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
Messages
363
That's a fair request.

I would definitely not want the results to be biased. Honestly, I want you to be right. I really think Google SHOULD consider the service areas set in GMB in the ranking algorithm. It just makes sense that if a plumber or lawyer or roofer or painter services those communities, they should have at least some chance of ranking there.

All I'm going to do is set up rank tracking for your primary keywords in each of the service areas that you have set in GMB. It will just track rankings. There isn't actually a way to bias it. I will make the account, set it up, and give you access.
 

BipperMedia

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Jan 13, 2019
Messages
111
That's a fair request.

I would definitely not want the results to be biased. Honestly, I want you to be right. I really think Google SHOULD consider the service areas set in GMB in the ranking algorithm. It just makes sense that if a plumber or lawyer or roofer or painter services those communities, they should have at least some chance of ranking there.

All I'm going to do is set up rank tracking for your primary keywords in each of the service areas that you have set in GMB. It will just track rankings. There isn't actually a way to bias it. I will make the account, set it up, and give you access.
Awesome... and I know you wouldn't try to skew the results -- I felt like I had to fairly represent the population of people who are on my side of the debate - which might just be me... :)
 

BipperMedia

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@whitespark @JoyHawkins -- Hi Darren, I just emailed you all the info that you requested. Please let me know how to access your data / test environment for the keyword rankings, etc...

You can email me: bobby@bippermedia.com

I sent you two clients / locations where we set up a wide array of service areas covering surrounding zip codes, counties, cities, etc...

Between the 2 locations / GMB's, there's probably close to 100 keyword phrases and service areas established and quite a bit of established history with this current optimization strategy in place...

So, I'm thinking these 2 locations are a perfect setup for this test.

Thank you again and let me know...

Bobby
 

BipperMedia

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Jan 13, 2019
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So I just want to keep everyone updated here on the test we are running at the recommendation of @whitespark and they (Darren) are generously offering their keyword reporting tool to take our initial snapshot ranking of the service area keyword phrases.

I'm going to continue sharing updates here on this test because:

1) I think it's important and valuable for everyone interested in this topic to be kept up to date

2) I feel like I need transparency on the debate that led us here in the first place... (read by through the thread if you need to get caught up...)

Let me give you a summary of what's happening here:

The debate: I disagree with the statement that "adding service areas to your GMB has zero impact on your rankings in those defined service areas." I believe that adding service areas to your GMB, along with having sufficient amounts of location authority, can in fact drive rankings and productivity for the GMB in those defined services areas.

Contrary to my belief is what seems to be the more popular belief that adding service areas to your GMB has zero impact and zero influence on your rankings, presence, and productivity in those additionally added service areas.

At the core of this test is the goal to see if we can either prove, or disprove, the idea that adding service areas has zero influence on rankings and presence in those service areas.

My belief is that adding service areas to your GMB does in fact have an impact and can in fact influence your rankings and presence in those service areas... if and only if you have enough location authority to fuel your rankings at those surrounding services areas defined in your GMB.

A counter statement made to my statement was that if a business is in fact ranking within those outer-lying areas defined as surrounding service areas, then it's because the GMB simply has enough location authority to rank in those service areas -- and that with a sufficient amount of location authority, the GMB would be ranking in those areas with or without the service areas defined in the GMB.

The Test: So the plan is to generate some empirical data to see if we can bring clarity to this debate.

So we are taking two of our client's data where, over a year ago or so, I added a lot of surrounding service area zip codes, counties, and cities to the service area sections within their GMB's.

With the help, and generous offer, from Whitespark, we are going to first take a snapshop of the rankings for targeted keyword phrases within all of the defined service areas.

I sent the keyword phrases to Darren this morning so Whitespark now has them and I am waiting to be added to their keyword tool so I can likewise view their data.

I already have a custom Google My Business Insights reporting tool, so I'm going to be able to see the comparative impact of insights such as phone calls, views in search, views in maps, website visits, direct and indirect searches, etc...

Also, we already have over 1 year of keyword ranking data for both of these locations and for the targeted keyword phrases respective to each defined service area. And we have initial ranking data - pre-service area expansion - going back nearly 3 years.

So I'm excited to see Whitespark's local keyword ranking data and accuracy to compare to our data.

Then, once we (myself and my team) have verified and validated the ranking data from Whitespark, I will proceed to remove all of the surrounding service areas from our client's two GMB service areas --- so in essence, these locations will be taken down to just the locations where their business is verified.

The results: to put it simply, if we remove the surrounding service areas from the GMB's and see a substantial decrease in rankings and productivity, then it may be sufficient to say that adding service areas DOES in fact influence the rankings, presence, and productivity of a GMB in those defined service areas.

If we remove the surrounding service areas from the GMB's and we do NOT see a substantial decrease in rankings and productivity, then it may be sufficient to say that adding service areas to the GMB does NOT have any impact on the influence of rankings, presence, and productivity of that GMB.

Final thoughts: I think this is an extremely important test for us to work through. Not only will this help contribute to all us having a better understanding of the impact and influence of defined service areas, but regardless of which way the pendulum swings (so to speak) we should all be more empowered in our strategies and approaches to optimizing businesses in surrounding markets -- i.e. markets where businesses do not have verified locations.

Along with my appreciation to Darren at Whitespark for presenting the idea to test this thing out and offering his keyword ranking tool, I also want to thank @JoyHawkins for this forum as a place where this debate and test can unfold.

Data being used in this test: For those who are interested, here's the initial list of keyword phrases being used for the initial rankings. Again, once we confirm and verify the initial rankings, I will proceed with removing service areas from the GMB's of the two locations.

Location #1 keyword list:

landscapers athens ga
lawn care athens ga
lawn maintenance athens ga
lawn service 30011
lawn service 30511
lawn service 30529
lawn service 30530
lawn service 30547
lawn service 30549
lawn service 30558
lawn service 30565
lawn service 30567
lawn service 30599
lawn service 30601
lawn service 30602
lawn service 30603
lawn service 30604
lawn service 30605
lawn service 30606
lawn service 30607
lawn service 30608
lawn service 30609
lawn service 30612
lawn service 30619
lawn service 30620
lawn service 30621
lawn service 30627
lawn service 30628
lawn service 30629
lawn service 30630
lawn service 30633
lawn service 30638
lawn service 30645
lawn service 30646
lawn service 30647
lawn service 30648
lawn service 30666
lawn service 30667
lawn service 30671
lawn service 30677
lawn service 30680
lawn service 30683
lawn service arcade ga
lawn service arnoldsville ga
lawn service athens ga
lawn service baldwin ga
lawn service banks county ga
lawn service barrow county ga
lawn service bethlehem ga
lawn service bishop ga
lawn service carl ga
lawn service carlton ga
lawn service clarke county ga
lawn service colbert ga
lawn service comer ga
lawn service commerce ga
lawn service crawford ga
lawn service danielsville ga
lawn service homer ga
lawn service hoschton ga
lawn service hull ga
lawn service ila ga
lawn service jackson county ga
lawn service jefferson ga
lawn service lexington ga
lawn service madison county ga
lawn service maxeys ga
lawn service maysville ga
lawn service nicholson ga
lawn service north high shoals ga
lawn service oconee county ga
lawn service oglethorpe county ga
lawn service pendergrass ga
lawn service russell ga
lawn service statham ga
lawn service talmo ga
lawn service watkinsville ga
lawn service winder ga
lawn service winterville ga

Location #2 keyword list:

garbage pickup athens ga
garbage removal athens ga
trash pickup 30601
trash pickup 30602
trash pickup 30603
trash pickup 30604
trash pickup 30605
trash pickup 30606
trash pickup 30607
trash pickup 30608
trash pickup 30609
trash pickup 30612
trash pickup 30619
trash pickup 30621
trash pickup 30627
trash pickup 30628
trash pickup 30629
trash pickup 30630
trash pickup 30633
trash pickup 30638
trash pickup 30645
trash pickup 30646
trash pickup 30647
trash pickup 30648
trash pickup 30667
trash pickup 30671
trash pickup 30677
trash pickup 30683
trash pickup arnoldsville ga
trash pickup athens ga
trash pickup barrow county ga
trash pickup bishop ga
trash pickup carlton ga
trash pickup clarke county ga
trash pickup colbert ga
trash pickup comer ga
trash pickup crawford ga
trash pickup danielsville ga
trash pickup homer ga
trash pickup hull ga
trash pickup ila ga
trash pickup jackson county ga
trash pickup jefferson ga
trash pickup lexington ga
trash pickup madison county ga
trash pickup maxeys ga
trash pickup north high shoals ga
trash pickup oconee county ga
trash pickup oglethorpe county ga
trash pickup watkinsville ga
trash pickup winder ga
trash pickup winterville ga


Also, stay tuned by following this thread as I plan on sharing as much information as I can as the test proceeds.

Bobby
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
Messages
363
Thanks for doing this test and for sharing the details, Bobby. I have set up your local rank tracking and already have data for the landscaper client. You are ranking really well in a very wide radius. It's impressive. I am very interested to see if the service areas in GMB are contributing in any way!
 

BipperMedia

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Jan 13, 2019
Messages
111
Thanks for doing this test and for sharing the details, Bobby. I have set up your local rank tracking and already have data for the landscaper client. You are ranking really well in a very wide radius. It's impressive. I am very interested to see if the service areas in GMB are contributing in any way!
Thank you Darren! I really appreciate your feedback... and likewise, I am interested in the results.

Quick side note: after talking with me team about all of the events that have been unfolding here on the forum, they - rightly so - have strongly advised me that I get permission from our clients first... since, after all, they are the one's who will ultimately be having a wide array of service areas pulled down from their GMB's.

I think this is sound, prudent advice especially since I'm in the camp of believing that these service areas are in fact impacting their productivity in a positive manner.

With all that being said -- I should be able to have all of this cleared through our clients by the end of today, and I'll follow back up here.
 
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363
I can understand the client thinking they don't want to mess with a good thing. To soften the request, you could just suggest removing maybe 10 of the 70 locations you have set. This will allow us to test without potentially disrupting very much for the client. It will allow us to have some "controls" for the test too. If you remove all the service areas, and rankings go down across the board, well, maybe it was just bad timing and algo update hit? Or maybe something else happened in your SEO for the client?

With controls in place, we can avoid that potential problem with the test. By just removing 10 of the service areas, instead of all of them, we can be more certain about our conclusions. This will likelybe more palatable for the client too.
 

BipperMedia

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@whitespark @JoyHawkins -- I spoke with our client today and they are fully supportive of us using their locations for this test.

So let's do this thing!

My client said, for both of their locations, they put 100% of their trust in me and what we are doing... which was encouraging!

I'm excited to move forward with this test, and I believe Darren is still working on adding the second location's service areas to their ranking tool. The first location is already up and data is being tracked.

Again, once both of the locations are fully uploaded to the rank tracking tool... we'll probably give it a day or two, and then I'm going to fully remove all of the service areas from both GMB's, taking them both down to just the location / city where their businesses are verified.

This should (hopefully) help us understand the impact of service areas a little bit better.

I'm looking forward to this test and I'm excited to see the results.

Either way it goes, I think we'll all gain more insight into the relevance of defined service areas (surrounding zip codes, counties, cities, etc...).
 

BipperMedia

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Jan 13, 2019
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@whitespark @JoyHawkins -- I just removed 67 service areas from one of our client's GMB listing that we are using to test the impact of service areas on GMB rankings.

As crazy as this sounds (to me anyway)... I'm excited for the opportunity to be a part of this test.

The next step is to give it 14 days.

So in 14 days from today (which will be Sunday, October 6th) we can count the total ranking positions in Google and compare that to the total ranking positions from the first day, which was September 14th.

There are other ways, I'm sure, to measure the data in this test, but this would be one way to see the impact in the total ranking positions.

Thoughts at this point in test?
 
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363
Hey Bobby,

My only thought is that I don't think we'll need to count anything and I don't think we'll need to wait 14 days. If there is an impact, I'd expect to see it in the rankings in the next day or two. We would see a noticeable drop in the rankings chart. For example, something like this:



But if there is no impact in the short term, then yes, I would want to let it run for 14 days or so before calling it.
 

pwarrenseo

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Jan 24, 2019
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Just checked this thread again after a couple weeks. Cool stuff. I hope we get an answer soon. If @BipperMedia is right we all going to be adding service areas to brick and mortar stores like crazy.
 

BipperMedia

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Jan 13, 2019
Messages
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@pwarrenseo here's a quick update:

I removed 67 surrounding service areas on Sunday, Sept. 22nd from one of our well established, high performing GMB's.

The only service area remaining was the city / zip code of the verified GMB.

To date... the visibility score is completely unchanged (see screenshot below).

@whitespark believes that we would see the impact of this change within a day or so, if there was going to be any impact at all.

I was thinking we would need more time -- approximately 14 days -- to truly measure the impact.

I still think we are very early in this test, just from my experience with making large / wide spread changes like this.

However, I do agree somewhat with Darren (whitespark), because we've made changes to GMB's before that were reflected in rankings within a matter of minutes.

So, with the results currently unchanged (visibility score) at this point, there's a couple of possible scenarios at play here:

1) there hasn't been enough time for Google to account for this large scale change in the GMB

2) I'm wrong (everyone else if right) and service areas have zero impact on rankings and presence

3) I'm right (everyone else is wrong) and we will see a dramatic drop in rankings soon.

If I'm wrong, I will not be too discouraged... as it implies that we figured out how to build substantial amounts of location authority to allow a business to rank and connect to new customers at a very wide radius from their main location covering over 60+ defined service areas.

Here's the screenshot of the test to date from Whitespark's ranking tool:



FYI @JoyHawkins
 
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Aug 9, 2012
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Hey Bobby. You're looking at Organic rankings in that screen shot. I am 99% certain that the GMB service areas don't impact organic rankings. Can you switch it to Local Finder so we can see the local rankings impact?
 

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