Recently, Google enhanced several features of its Local Business Center and rebranded it Google Places. Among the new features is an ability to specify the regions a business serves. But will the new changes help B2B marketers serving a larger region get found?
Most B2B company locations serve a large region, and it can be challenging to get found in the local search results for geo-targeted search queries. Let’s say a business is located in Gary, Indiana, and primarily serves the Chicago area. Downtown Chicago is about 30 miles away from Gary. With the new features in Google Places, the business can specify whether it primarily serves customers at its location or serves customers at other areas in the region.
Google Places now allows the business to specify the zip codes, cities, or counties it services, or specify a service-area radius from the business location, apparently up to 600 miles. This should be great, especially, dealers, distributors, and others serving a broad region.
At first, this sounds like a promising enhancement; now the Gary company may be able to better compete with rivals whose addresses physical location is closer to Chicago. Hopefully, the ability to specify service regions will lead to more visibility in the local search results, right?
While it’s yet too early to determine the extent to which this information will influence visibility in the local search results, I’m guessing it will have little impact.
When you first receive local search results for a query, the map is usually pretty tight; it’s not unusual to have the top ten local search results in a radius of 10-20 miles. If there is little competition in a given area, you might get shown a bigger map so more search results can be included. However, unless your information somehow is so highly relevant to a searcher’s query, closer businesses will almost certainly be more visible in the local search results.
There’s nothing necessarily unfair about this; most searchers using geo-specific queries want to know the closest businesses first. And there’s nothing wrong with including the information on the service areas; it will be beneficial to searchers when reviewing details of a given search result.
Many B2B companies serving broad geographic regions may be suddenly relieved there is an apparent solution to their challenge of getting found for geo-specific queries, but I wouldn’t expect this new feature to have a material impact on local-search-result visibility. Don’t think merely specifying a region or service area is going to displace your competitors’ visibility.
Better to keep your focus on optimizing other aspects of your business listing data be highly relevant to target queries and employ non-maps strategies (i.e., organic and paid web search results) for getting found for geo-specific queries.