Jun 14, 2017
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Basically, I am frustrated with some clients who have a SAB but want to rank everywhere and because they rank well in their primary location they expect the same at all the locations at the same time.

Is there any point in taking on a client with a service area business who wants to rank in another city but who is not prepared to wait and has no affinity to it in the first place? I'm beginning to wonder. Creating location pages and trying to build citations to them without an address means that we are at a disadvantage compared to businesses located in these locations. But some clients don't get that no matter how often I explain.

Do you guys charge a lot more for a client like this? Do you tell them from the outset that it might take more per month to do this? In a competitive industry is it a lost battle?
Feeling a bit fed up due to one particular client I had to deal with today who thought I did great for the location they're in but was not happy about not ranking well anywhere else in the 6 months I worked with them. They were in a very competitive industry dominated by big brands and their location page for a nearby city was not ranking well due to not having any affinity to that city. We were trying!

Any thoughts?

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Hi Caroline, I know that's a tough one!

If I were still seeing clients I think I would set the expectation up front. If they give you push back then and say: "But I want to hire you to help me rank in my city PLUS city 1, 2 & 3" then explain how Google LOCAL works. You could do that by flipping their perspective. Let's use "San Diego plumber" as an example.

If I could do some smart marketing to get you to rank in other cities, then this is what it would look like on the flip side. You live and work in San Diego. You sponsor the local baseball team, you're in the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. You give back to your local community.

Since you are a San Diego plumber, you think you should be able to at least rank in your own city, right? If the Google Local algo was not location based, but based on who marketed the hardest or pulled some SEO tricks - then it would look like this: Instead of you ranking in your own city, the search for "San Diego plumber" returns a plumber from San Marcos, Carlsbad and El Cajon.

You and the other 75 plumbers in SD would think the Google Local algo was broken or unfair, since you are all located right here in the city - you guys should have the best chance of ranking, right?

More importantly to Google, who's goal is always to deliver the best search results based on what the user is asking for... If the searcher types in "San Diego plumber", or "plumber near me" and they are in San Diego... If they get 3 plumbers from other cities, instead of SD like they asked for, what does the user think? "Google is broken?" "Google does not work well, none of these plumbers are even located in SD." Do they complain? Or just give up and go to Bing to try to find the answer they were looking for?

Anyway you get the picture. If after explaining a little, they still insist they want to pay you to get them to rank in city 1, 2 & 3 - I would let them walk and tell them that's not how the algo works.

But that's setting the location expectation up front. If you are already in the middle of this problem, then I guess you could try to explain using examples like above - but my guess is they won't listen.

Not sure you can say after the fact: "If you want to rank in those cities, it will cost extra", because likely they won't rank in other cities, whatever you do, if it's a competitive market - so I would probably let them go as a client if they would not listen to reason and had unrealistic expectations.

Take a look at the top sticky "Just Say No to Bad Local SEO Clients - Let them Walk!".
Let us know if some of those suggestions make sense in your situation.

I'm curious though what other consultants think or would do?

Have any of you ever been in Caroline's situation?


Jul 22, 2012
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Marketing, search marketing and in particular local search marketing is for the long-haul so we try to sign clients that are aware of this otherwise you usually put a bunch of time and effort into someone who ends up cancelling after 3 months.

If they also want to rank for ranking sake my advice would be to be cautious. This type of client can be very fleeting.

What we typically give clients who make these types of requests a link to this blog showing how long it typically takes to rank in local search. It's from pros so they hardly ever argue its validity and it helps us set proper expectations.


Jun 14, 2017
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Yes all your answers help and I particularly like the links you have given. I now have a different way of explaining things to potential clients and, like you say, may walk away if there is no understanding.



Jul 17, 2013
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I realize the topic of the thread was about charging more or getting the customer to understand. However the client could do some things to make your job easier. For instance he wants to rank in cites he doesn't have a physical presence. This would require maybe 5X the resources and take maybe just as long. What if he invested in a physical office? I'm not talking a po box or UPS store. I'm talking a real address. It will cost a few hundred a month, but the returns should be worth it if he is a good business man.

He then should be encouraged to join local chamber, and sponsor a little league. Give google signs he is part of the community.
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