Last week Google made a major change to how service area businesses like plumbers, electricians and more are handled in their Google My Business page, and if you don’t make the updates, you may find yourself falling out of the rankings. For years a service area business could mark themselves as such and then list a service area as a certain distance from their business address. Now it appears the address is optional and you need to specifically list your service area. That can be cities, states, or even counties, but they must be specifically selected in your GMB info section. If your GMB is set as a service area radius, you may find yourself falling out of the rankings in certain areas. It is still unclear how proximity is handled by the algorithm as Google is no longer requiring an address to get a GMB listing for these service area businesses. It is believed this action is to help more of these businesses get involved and actually start paying Google for advertising. We will learn as the data comes in how proximity, which is a huge factor for local search, works in the algorithm going forward for businesses that don’t have an address listed, as well as how to claim your business listing for these businesses. It is assumed it will be phone pin only if there is no address associated with the business.
How Do You Change Your GMB Service Area Settings?
To change your service area settings you must first own your business listing. We shared a video on how to claim your listing a few months ago, but this may have changed a bit for these service businesses if the address is less important. You will likely have to use the phone verification option. Once you own your listing you can go to business.google.com and then to the “Info” choice on the left menu options.
Once you have opened up the Info options you will search for your service area settings. If the service area is set as a radius, as many businesses have done for years, you will want to click on the little pen icon to edit it. Google will show guidance on your selections, but you can basically enter names of cities, counties, states, etc. into the box and options will come up for you to select. See the images below. Your listing should be similar and you should choose realistic service areas. If you are a local business pick your real service area, don’t pick the USA. If you can serve the entire country you can choose that, but typically the more specific your choices the better. We will likely learn over time through data if itis better to pick a whole county vs. the individual cities within a county.
Act Now on GMB Service Area Edits
I would recommend you act on this as soon as possible. For one, others won’t and it will give you and advantage. Secondly, it appears that Google has changed the algorithm a bit to reward this, so you want to keep your GMB in line to continue to rank properly. If you see a lot of traffic changes in the next few weeks, it may be connected to this.