SteinCoffee

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In a small-medium sized city that our SAB serves, we consistently rank #1 in organic when searching that "service + location". But when I'm physically in that location and search the service without the location, the landing page is third page, right behind our home page (which is not in that city but is nearby).

When searching the service from the location, businesses with physical addresses closer to the location rank higher than my location landing page. But when I add the location in the search, my page is at the top.

There is one other competitor whose landing page in a different city outranks ours when I don't include the location in the search, but my page always beats them when I do include the location in the search. This one is a head scratcher to me.

Do you have an idea what's going on?
 

Phil Rozek

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That's because of at least three things:

1. When the location isn't in the query, Google has to take its best guess as to where the searcher wants to see results. It matters where Google thinks the searcher is. It also matters where Google thinks the relevant businesses are (which is a tricky wit SABs). The Google Maps 3-pack is very location-sensitive. The organic results are less so, but they've gotten much more location-sensitive in recent years.

2. The number of businesses competing with you on "service + location" is probably smaller than the number of businesses in your area that Google might rank for "service" terms. You're up against a smaller number of pages that might outrank yours. Small pond vs. medium pond.

3. Homepages that make the service area clear often outrank "location" or "city" pages. Yes, even though the latter are more targeted. My working theory has always been that's because the homepage has most or all of the links, and "city" pages tend to have none. So I'm not too surprised your homepage is ahead of the "location" page.
 
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