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I've got a client that currently serves a fairly large metro area and has set up their service area to include that metro area. The business is located on the east side of the metro area and he has gotten some customers in a couple of smaller, rural towns further east outside the metro area. He would like to improve his search rankings for those rural towns so he can get more customers in them. My question is...

1) If we were to expand his service area to include the small towns outside the metro area, would that result in lower Google Maps/local 3 pack rankings for the main city in the metro area?

Which leads to two underlying questions...

2) Is there any research that shows having a smaller service area that includes fewer cities improves your search rankings for those cities?

3) Is there any research that shows where the center of a company's service area is impacts its search rankings? (In other words, if my client wants to expand his service area to serve rural towns to the east, should he expand it in all directions so the main city is still at the center of the service area?)

Thanks for your help!
 

JoyHawkins

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Hey Paul,

The service area doesn't impact where you rank at all (ranking is based on the address used to verify the listing) so I wouldn't bother changing it.
 
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Hi Joy, thanks for the reply. Two follow-up questions...

1) What is your conclusion based on? Do you have a link? It's not that I don't believe you - you know your stuff! - but I would just like to be able to provide evidence to our client.

2) If the service area doesn't impact rankings, what is the point of the service area?
 

JoyHawkins

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I've never published a case study on it but in the history of working in this industry since 2006, I have never seen a service area on a client ever impact ranking in any way. I've worked with tons of service area businesses of all types.

As for question 2 - the purpose is that it determines what shows up on the little map in the Knowledge Panel.

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I'll ask around to see if anyone else has a case study they've published.
 

whitespark

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I don't have published data I can link you to, but I work with a multi-location service areas business with over 100 locations. About 3 months ago they added service areas to 20 of their locations to test and set up rank tracking in those areas. After 1 month they saw no ranking changes, and their views and traffic to those locations did not change at all either.

It seems, as Joy has noted, that the only reason to set a service area is for "display purposes only".

The other side of this, is that some people claim that adding service areas might actually HURT your rankings. I haven't personally seen this, but I am seeing some rumblings in the community where people claim that dropping their address and adding service areas had killed their rankings. I'm still exploring this, and would love to see more data on it.
 

OnlineLobstar

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I've never published a case study on it but in the history of working in this industry since 2006, I have never seen a service area on a client ever impact ranking in any way. I've worked with tons of service area businesses of all types.

As for question 2 - the purpose is that it determines what shows up on the little map in the Knowledge Panel.

1557161883618.png


I'll ask around to see if anyone else has a case study they've published.
Hi Joe,
What about those who don't want the address to be shown? I am working with two clients like this and both of them are going down. I am thinking about reversing. What do you suggest? Should I reverse?
 
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Joy and Darren, thanks for sharing your observations from your extensive professional experience.
 

JoyHawkins

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Should I reverse?

It depends on the industry. If it's a spammy industry like garage door repair or locksmiths, it could trigger a suspension so I wouldn't.
 

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