More threads by Elliot


Feb 24, 2015
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Hi everyone,

I'm fuzzy on exactly how citation location and service area affects searches that are served up on location.

For instance, my goal is to rank local and organic for "tree service city-name", but the verified address is my home address outside of our main service area. No doubt I want to build citations to this verified address, but that specific area isn't really what I'm aiming for.

What extra work does this require on my part? Should targeted city subpages with differing onpage optimization (for the particular city suburb) be focused on? Or should I be putting all my efforts into getting the main domain ranking for any and all nearby city searches. Has anyone had any successful strategies doing this from the ground up?

Hi Elliot,

If you don't have a physical location in the city you're targeting, then it's very very difficult to rank within the local pack of the main city. It basically only happens when Google doesn't have enough "inventory" of businesses within the city and they start pulling from surrounding cities. Or, it happens in cases of extremely prominent businesses with a TON of links, mentions, media mentions, reviews, etc.

So, with that in mind, your options are:
1) to try and rank in the organic results instead of the local pack.
2) get an office in the city.

For #1, this post from Phil Rozek has everything you need to know:
25 Principles of Building Effective City Pages for Local SEO |

For #2, it really should be a real office, not a virtual office.

For the citations, you have to use your actual name, address, and phone, but you can try to help your organic rankings in option #1 by including the city and neighborhood names in your business description.

Hope this helps.

What Darren said. I'd also add that it's worth trying to get a couple good links from organizations that are in or serve the city you're trying to rank in. Joining their Chamber of Commerce - or a regional one that covers that city - comes to mind first. Also, try to get reviews from any customers of yours who are from that city.
Thanks for the response guys. Although I think you may have misunderstood my question.

I have a verified address in the city I want to rank in. It's a service area business that serves about a 30 mile radius. I'm in the upper portion of the city (still in the limits), but I want to know what, if anything, I can do to rank for the more densely populated lower portion of the city + the higher income suburbs below it. Is there really anything I can do for my main domain/landing page that I'm just generally trying to rank for?

What sparked this question was this article:
Ohhhh. That article is such BS. The idea that you should stop trying to rank for city and instead focus on neighborhood is a insane.

1) a large percentage of people are still conditioned to search with the city name. Maybe half?

2) even for non-geomodified search, Google hasn't nailed down the searchers location to the neighborhood level, yet. If you ask 10 people in different areas of the city to search "dentist" I bet they all get exactly the same, or close to the same, results.

The only exception might be on mobile, but I'd want to do some tests before making any conclusions. My guess is that the results aren't overly neighborhood centric even on mobile.

Sure, you can try to target both city and specific neighborhoods, but dropping city in favor of neighborhood is going to kill your rankings and traffic.

There isn't much you can do to target specific neighborhoods other than optimizing your content with neighborhood related content (especially your home page), tweaking the title tag to include neighborhood, making a "city" page for the neighborhood(s) in an "areas we serve" section of your site, and updating your citations to include the neighborhood in your descriptions as well. As Phil hinted, getting people to mention the neighborhood in their reviews would be huge.
This makes a lot of sense. I think at this point, being as new an inexperienced with local seo as I am, it's really a waste of time for me to even think about it. Especially considering the relatively low search volume for my target industry and city.
Hey Elliot,

I work with several tree service companies and they get around this by focusing on AdWords as well as SEO. The cost-per-click for the keywords in this industry is pretty low ($1-5) so it is well worth the cost. We had a massive ice storm last year in the winter and the majority of their business calls came from AdWords because everyone was searching suddenly so I strongly recommend having a paid presence just so you can control your activity more during the high and low seasons.

I honestly haven't had too much success having them rank outside their town because Google still seems to give priority to the businesses that are in that city first.

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