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When I do a search in Google Maps for "carpet cleaning near Irvine, CA" this is a screenshot of what I see - https://www.screencast.com/t/pUiKXRL7U8C

Can anyone explain why the top 3 listings on the left do not match up with the "pins" shown on the map?

None of those 3 listings have an address. That might explain why they're not on the map, but if so, why do they rank 1-3 in the search results?
 
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Hi Paul

Most cleaning companies would be classified as Service Area Businesses as they visit a customer rather than the customer coming to their location. As such, their business address is hidden and not shown on the map.

And since Google expects that carpet cleaning companies would all be SABs, companies that don't hide their address would possibly be treated as less legitimate and so could rank lower on the list.
 
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Thanks Priya! I wasn't familiar with Service Area Businesses. I'm reading up on it now. I have a couple follow-up questions though...

1) We know proximity is a big factor in local search. Do you know how Google treats proximity for SABs? Or how it treats proximity in searches like the example I cited where some businesses seem to be listed as SABs and others aren't? Do you know of any articles that discuss this?

2) If a person starts a business like website development and works out of a home office but always meets clients at their office or a public location, should that business be designated as a SAB?

Thanks,
Paul
 
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Hi Paul,

To add to what Priya said in answer to your first question, Google shows dots on the map for each of the 20 locations in the results for that page of the local finder. Any SAB businesses don't get a dot. In this case, there are only 7 dots showing, meaning 13 of the results are SABs. I expect it's just luck of the draw that the top 3 are all SABs.

Google counts proximity for SABs based on where their hidden address is. Even if you say you serve Irvine, CA (for example) and your service area appears to be centered in the middle of the city, your listing will actually be most likely to appear for users near your hidden location.

I work most often with wedding photographers, so that's the industry I keep the closest eye on. I haven't done a real data driven deep dive like Dan from Local SEO Guide (yet) but I still take a look at a few thousand businesses once a year just to see what patterns I can spot. As of last August at least, my belief is that marking your business as an SAB doesn't help or hinder you. I'm reasonably convinced Google treats it all the same, though I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced otherwise. Last September there were some pretty big shakeups, so it's entirely possible that being an SAB can influence your ability to rank somehow now. Priya, if you've seen some cases that make you think being an SAB is a factor, I'd love to hear about them if you don't mind sharing.

Even if being an SAB is a small ranking factor, you should still select the setting that's appropriate for your business. The only time this affects anything you can actual control, is if you have multiple addresses you can select. For example, if you have a business partner, you would want to choose the residence closest to your potential customers. Even if it's hidden, it would help you show. (As a side-note: don't use an employees house, a virtual office, etc. to try and cheat the system, Google does take action on that if they find out).

If you work from a home office but meet clients offsite, you need to be an SAB. Showing your address is only for business that are staffed and able to receive visitors during your stated business hours. You can look at Google's Business Guidelines for more information.
 
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