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January 28, 2019

New changes to Google My Business

Written by Nick Wineland
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If you're wondering, "how do I get my business on Google" if your business doesn't have a physical address, fear not: this week, Google officially rolled out a new feature for service area businesses that solves this problem by allowing them to create listings. During the listing creation process, businesses are able to dictate their service areas like before with postal/zip codes or a list of cities. The only difference to the service area capability is the radius feature, which has been removed in favor of the city, region, or zip code format. Now, you’ll still have to add your address in at the end of the listing creation process for verification, but this signals a change that Google is adapting its platform to be more inclusive of businesses without a physical storefront.

This change to Google My Business can open doors for a lot of businesses who operate out of a van or their garage and can start getting leads and clients from a platform that was previously more restrictive. The other great thing about this update is that if you do have a storefront that you operate out of and you have service areas, you’re able to have your address visible so searchers are able to visit your store or request a service call in their area.

Google My Business has become the virtual storefront for businesses with a web presence. By allowing customers to find out more information including address, phone number, photos of the business and products as well as store hours, consumers are able to directly interact with the business in a way like no other before. Because of the explosion of internet-connected mobile devices, localized searches have dominated the mobile search landscape and digital savvy business owners have capitalized on this by being ahead of the curve with their local search presence. Google reports a 500 percent increase in ‘near me’ searches in the last two years and an even crazier 900 percent increase in ‘near me today/tonight’ searches. This signals that consumers are looking for what they want locally and at the time that they want it. Almost one-third of all searches have localized intent, which means location-based businesses need to adapt their strategies to make it easier for searchers to find them.

Because Google’s number one objective is serving their search engine’s users the best results possible, being visible in the local search landscape is imperative for business owners. Local search ranking is determined by many different factors, but a few of the most important factors from Moz’s 2018 Survey are:

Moz Local Search Ranking Factors 2018Previously, service area businesses without a physical storefront were left out in the cold. Because of Google’s former guidelines for Google My Business, they were not able to verify their listings unless they had a physical address for the business, and businesses who were not eligible for a Google My Business listing could only focus on regular organic results, leaving a huge opportunity unavailable to them. This scenario could create a lot of frustration for the local electrician or plumber who might have a business based out of their home and would not want customers showing up on their doorstep. There have been some changes to that guideline in the past couple of years which did allow business owners to hide their addresses and specify their service areas based on zip code, radius, or a list of cities. However, that process still required them to add an address into the platform from the beginning.

Here’s a run through on how this new listing creation process works from Google:

GoogleListingCreationGif

Curious about what this could mean for your service area business? Contact us with any and all questions that you may have. We are here to help you increase your local search presence and adapt with the ever-changing digital landscape.

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