Service areas are critically important to businesses that want to have “multiple locations” so that they can reap the benefit of local search ranking in multiple zip codes & cities. However, Google My Business listings can get suspended if the address being used is not eligible for a listing according to Google My Business Guidelines. Many service businesses target areas outside their primary location. Some cover large regions of a state or even multiple states. If you have a business that offers professional or home services you can list your service areas on your Google My Business listing. This will let potential customers searching know you will visit or deliver to them.
- Professional services include accountant, insurance agent, attorney,…
- Home services include a landscaper, locksmith, plumber,…
We reached out to Google after receiving an email from a local business whose Google My Business listings were suspended. This was taken from the response.
“… in order to qualify a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated business hours. Notice that it “does not” say that the in-person contact needs to take place at the address listed on the profile. A service area business visits customers at there home, during the business hours on their profile qualifies under Google guidelines”.
There seems to be some confusion around creating Google My Business listings. Several business owners contacted us after their Google My Business listing was suspended by Google. I decided to write this article to help clarify some of the most common misinterpretations regarding home-based businesses, virtual locations, franchised locations, and expanded service areas.
Setting Service Areas
Each listing classed as a “service area business“, must have a service area set up, and the address removed. The only exception to this is if any of the listings also have a visible storefront and signage, then they may keep their address shown in addition to their service area.
Service area businesses never appear on the map as pins, their service areas only come up when searched for.
Editing Sevice Area
To edit your service area details, follow these steps:
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
- Click Info from the menu.
- Click Edit for the Address
- In the window that appears, select Yes next to “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations.”
- Enter your service area information based on the zip codes or cities that you serve, or on a given area around your location and check the box next to “I also serve customers at my business address.”
- Click Apply.
This is a vital step that will allow your listing to show in the larger geographic region you serve.
Google Local Service Ads is a paid advertising platform for home service professionals and HVAC service is one of the categories using the type of advertising.
LSA rankings are determined by the business’ ratings and reputation.
You will need to apply and then verified to become a Google Guaranteed business.
This is separate from your Google My Business profile.
You can use your home address to create a Google My Business listing for a home-based business and Google won’t display the address if you don’t check the box indicating customers also come to your location.
If you move the business from your home, then the new office location should be your GMB listing by simply updating the existing listing with the new business address.
The exception would be a business that operates separately in different states. Let’s say you own an HVAC business and have technicians in different states that go visit customers at their locations. You can create one listing for each state and in a large state like California, you might be permitted more.
Google has a clear policy about virtual offices not being allowed.
The staff located at the address being used needs to be verified that they are on your business payroll. In short, a virtual business address is only permitted for a Google My Business listing if you have employees physically working at that location.
Franchised location listings must use the “Brand Name” and location and services descriptors belong in their appropriate fields and not the name field.
Referring to the Guidelines, make sure you are naming each location correctly. You should use the real-world name. If at each location, they answer the phone as <brand name>, the sign out front says <brand name>, the header on the receipts reads <brand name>, then each GMB listing should be named <brand name>, not <brand name + area served>.
Each listing requires a separate account, that only the franchisee has access to designated as the primary owner and failure to do so correctly will likely lead to the suspension of all listings.
It does not matter what agreement the head office has with the franchisee. Franchise listings on Google My Business are owned by the franchisee and have the right to do whatever they want with them. This is explicitly spelled out in the rules.
In a franchise setup, the Corporate head office and any external consultants all count as third-party partners.
Franchise locations set to open in the future will appear in searches but will not appear in the not maps until they open.
Google My Business guidelines do not cover every situation but if you have a specific question email it to us and if we don’t already know it we will get you the answer.