According to Google – “the service area feature is designed for businesses who visit or deliver to local customers.
I have been watching with keen interest the way Google has gone about tweaking the service area feature over the years and trying to bring some semblance of control and logic on how it treats service areas.
Before we get into the tip and forecast, some history. Please correct me if I have some dates or information wrong.
- Jun 2014
Specify a radius (miles/km) for service areas.
- Nov 2018
Option to specify your service area by region, city, or ZIP code without location limit.
Possible to add whole countries and continents
Can edit radius.
Some are still grandfathered and not removed if the owner hasn’t touched them.
Some folks hint at a 999km service area limit.
- Nov 2019
Specify your service area by region, city, or ZIP code but with a 20 location limit.
Cannot edit the radius.
Google became stricter and tried to enforce arbitrary service areas and limits on those owners who hadn’t made the change from radius yet.
Google suggests a maximum of two-hour driving distance from your location.
- Sep 2020
Google – “If your business doesn’t have permanent on-site signage, it’s not eligible as a storefront and should be listed as a service-area business”.
The distinction between storefronts and service-area businesses is becoming clearer by the day.
- Jan 2021
Google continues to enforce stricter limits on adding service areas.
Disallows some which it feels are not the right fit.
Disallows neighboring state locations in some cases.
- Feb 2021
The service area information that Google provides through the mobile interface matches the 20 service areas set by the business owner. Hitherto, it used to be more than 20 or not matching the service areas set by the owner.
I verified this today with two of my clients’ SAB areas which weren’t matching last month.
You can check a GMB’s service areas on a mobile (not on the desktop) if the GMB listing has specified service areas. You can also check some hybrid (storefront + SAB) businesses.
Useful to quickly get an overview of target areas of competitors and to make changes in your own strategy.
Could be a forerunner to the service areas turned into how the services section is slowly turning where you must pick some service options already set up by Google.
A list of 30 – 50 service areas may be the default and you just need to pick the 20 you want to service.
Useful for Google to target the local areas through the service ads with a more structured approach.
While the inclusion of service areas was hitherto not a ranking factor, targeting the right locations can never hurt you.
This option may not be available for all niches and locations. I checked in two cities Charlotte and Chicago and both had the service areas available to check for locksmiths.
Do share your thoughts on whether this will increase your focus on the service areas to target since Google has been continually making changes to this feature?
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