Today, let’s talk about Service Area Business (SAB) and Local SEO. Whenever I talk to her SAB, first and most of the time, that’s all Thing — what they want to know is how to rank in the local pack in a city that doesn’t have a physical location.
Needless to say, over the years, Google has made it very difficult for these companies to rank outside of their home country. And with the advent of Google’s home service ads, it’s getting harder and harder.
The hipster types who talk about digital marketing TED have been predicting the demise of the print yellow pages for years, but did you know? He told me that he was showing potential SAB advertisers the following picture on a napkin.
he tells them: your but our books surroundings market. And I think it’s working — he claims sales have been up lately (although I suspect he spends part of his budget on AdWords).
For starters, Google’s Local Pack Algorithm is a “trimodal” algorithm based primarily on three factors:
- Relevance (Are you a roofer?).
- prominence (Are you a prominent roofer?).
- proximity (Is your business physically located near searchers?).
Businesses in service areas outside the searcher’s city will be fighting without one leg on the trimodal stool (proximity) and will need to be very visible to outperform their competitors in the searcher’s market . That means getting links, reviews, and other Google values. These are usually unfamiliar to most service professionals who spend their days breathing customer dust.
In short, SABs can spend as much time as they want on their Google My Business (GMB) page and not get much for their efforts.
It’s even worse for multi-location brands. That means you can’t even use bulk GMB accounts. That’s how highly Google seems to value them.
I know what you want to say to yourself. Thank you for venting my complaint about GMB.but what are you going to do conduct Are you an SEO master to me?
If you need Google organic traffic for your service area business, you have two options:
1. Invest heavily in your GMB/local pack rankings and learn how to live off regular punches in the face.
This means investing in an aggressive but safe (or “less risky”) link building strategy to your location’s page and getting reviews from customers in your desired location who mention the city name in their reviews. It means satiated. …at the same time, it doesn’t look like they hired a team in Myanmar to spam Google reviews.
You may achieve rankings in other cities, but you’ll also experience a lot of volatility – and home service ads will keep popping in your face.
2. Get the GMB basics right and focus on “local organic” results.
Why would you want non-local pack fun like Yelp, YP.com, Thumbtack, AngiesList, etc. Even if you don’t have a location in the city you searched for, it might be nearby — certainly closer than Yelp’s offices .
If you do the right things with regards to SEO, you should be able to compete head-on with the big local directories on the market.
- Have a well-optimized website with strong landing pages for each city you serve. Please put a lot of unique and relevant content on these pages. Last year’s Local SEO Ranking Factors Study showed that location landing pages with lots of content tended to correlate with strong rankings.
- If you’re getting reviews, get reviews from a specific city to the site’s relevant location page. (And if you don’t get any reviews, it’s a good time to start — our soon-to-be-launched new ranking factors study has a lot to say on this point.)
- Use the local business schema to mark up reviews and NAP information (name, address, phone number). Use all the freely structured markup on these pages to make it clear that your business is relevant to your target city. (In some cases, this is seen as a tiebreaker for ranking pages.) So there is a schema.org type called https://schema.org/City. Is it okay if I use it?
- If you’re a business that only serves one location, you’ll likely want several links to location pages that use the city and state you’re targeting in your anchor text. No need to overdo it. A little dab is enough.
- If you’re a multi-location SAB, you can still use some links — but a combination of a local citation link and perhaps a branded link may be enough to get you there (i.e. the site’s if your SEO is not FUBAR).
- Additionally, for multi-location SABs, make sure your site has a crawlable store locator. That is, clickable links to each location from the rest of the site. (Ditch that her ZIP search app — Google can’t crawl it!)
If you’re serious about ranking in the cities you serve, consider opening offices in each city and creating a Google My Business page. (And be sure to staff and install “onsite signage” to comply with Google’s guidelines.)
It may sound silly, but when you consider how much you spend on AdWords to acquire customers, the ROI of opening a small office might look pretty good in comparison.
And if you’re really tired of being constantly swayed by Google, maybe it’s time to start your business in a physical location. I hear local retail is pretty easy these days…
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
What’s New in Search Engine Land