Service-Area Businesses And Local SEO: What You Need To Know
The thing with service-area businesses (SABs) is that they don’t always have a physical location in the areas that they want to rank for. This makes thing a bit difficult in terms of local SEO, thanks to Google. And, thanks to Google’s Home Services advertisements, things are even more difficult.
Although the print yellow pages have been going under for years now, some people say that SABs shouldn’t downplay their importance. Regardless, local SEO is still vital for the success of your business.
If you are unfamiliar with the Local Pack algorithm from Google, it is a trimodel algorithm that is based primarily on three particular factors:
- Relevance – Are you a plumber?
- Prominence – Are you a distinguished plumber?
- Proximity – Is your physical location near the user?
SABs outside the user’s vicinity will only have two of the three trimodel factors (lacking the proximity factor), which means that they will need to be incredibly prominent to outrank their competitors who are actually in the user’s market area (proximity). What exactly does that mean? This will require gathering reviews, links, and other valuable things that Google likes – often things that service-area businesses are unable to acquire due to the fact that they are busy with their customers.
All in all, service-area businesses can spend all the time in the world on their Google My Business page and not see much return for their effort. This is usually far worse for multilocation brands since they are unable to use bulk Google My Business accounts.
Luckily, there is something that you can do to get some organic traffic. Basically, you have a couple of options:
Option #1: Invest Heavily in Your Local Pack/Google My Business Rankings.
This is an aggressive choice, but it is also a safe (or at least less risky) option. It is a strategy of link building that will build links to your location pages and also focuses on getting customer reviews in your desired locations. These reviews will need to mention the desired city name that you want to rank for.
Of course, it is very important that these reviews do not look like you hired someone to write them for you, especially someone from another country. Google is capable of picking up on these things and will penalize you for it.
Option #2: Stick to the Basics for Google My Business and Concentrate on Local Organic Results.
Right now, the big-name local directories are the ones that seem to rank outside of the Local Pack, including YP.com, Yelp, AngiesList, and even Thumbtack. Now, you may not have an actual business location in the city that is being searched, but there is a good chance that you have one that is nearby – and it is probably closer than the Yelp office, right?
If you want to make sure you are doing everything right in the eyes of Google in terms of SEO, then you should have no problem going head-to-head with the local directories in your area. Here is what you need to do:
- Make sure your site is well-optimized with solid landing pages for every single city that you serve. Each of those landing pages need to be full of relevant and unique content. Research shows that location landing pages with lots of relevant content are associated with high rankings.
- If you are getting customer reviews, make sure that they are for specific cities and get them onto your location landing pages. If you are not getting customer reviews, what are you waiting for?! They can significantly help boost traffic to your site, thereby assisting in rankings.
- Mark up reviews as well as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information with Local Business schema. This can ensure that it is obvious that your business and the target city are connected. Use http://schema.org/City to your advantage.
- If your business only does business in one location, then you will benefit from a handful of links to your location landing page that utilize the city, state you are targeting within the anchor text. Try not to overdo it, but a little bit will go a long way.
- If your business is a multilocation business, links are still beneficial. However, the combination of local and brand links could be enough to get you over the top. This is, of course, assuming that the SEO of your site is not FUBAR.
- In addition, for multilocation SABs, you need to ensure that your website has a crawlable store locator. In other words, you need clickable links to every location from the remainder of your site. If you have a zip-lookup app, you need to remove it because Google is unable to crawl it.
If you are serious about ranking for all of the cities that you provide service to, then you may want to consider a sales office in each of them and then creating a Google My Business page for every one of the sales offices. Just keep in mind that to be compliant with Google’s guidelines, the sales offices will need to be staffed and have signage on-site.
While it may sound to be a bit much, the return on investment may be better than spending the money on AdWords. It all comes down to personal preference, though.
If you would like to discuss local SEO for service-area businesses, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at WebDetail.