You’ve probably heard of Google My Business and how important it is to create and maintain a GMB profile. If you run a service-area business, however, things become a bit more complicated.
The process for setting up a GMB profile as a service-area business is a bit different from the usual. A few small mistakes can get your profile deleted, so it’s vital to set it up correctly and fix any mistakes you made if you already set your profile up.
What is a service-area business?
A service-area business is one that doesn’t have a physical location, but instead serves customers within a specific geographical area. If you run a plumbing service, for example, and visit clients’ homes to fix plumbing problems, you operate a service-area business.
Service-area businesses, or SABs, do not have physical storefronts with permanent signage. You go to customers instead of them visiting you.
Why is it important to specify your business as a SAB?
Classifying your company as a service-area business when signing up is crucial because it allows your GMB profile to be seen by all your target customers.
When you create your profile, you’ll be able to specify the zip codes and areas you service. If you operate a roofing company in those areas, you’ll want everyone in those areas to see your profile.
However, if you instead classify your business as a standard, location-based business, it might not show up to people who are searching from further away, even if you deliver to or serve them as well.
Additionally, if you categorize your business incorrectly, Google may take down your listing. Many business owners don’t pay attention when building their profiles and list a home address as their place of business. It’s a common error you must avoid.
Examples of service-area businesses
Here are some examples of SABs. This list isn’t, by all means, exhaustive; it’s just to give you a general idea of which type of businesses fall under this category.
- HVAC technicians
- Home cleaning services
- Floor carpet cleaning services
- Roofing contractors
- Chimney cleaners
- Garage door repair services
- Deer control services
- Pest control companies
- Landscaping services
- Home delivery beauty salons (with no physical shop)
- Painting companies
What is a hybrid business?
A hybrid business is one that serves a geographical area but also has a physical location where you serve customers. If you operate a furniture business, you may provide home deliveries of sofas, cabinets, and other heavy furniture.
Nonetheless, you may also have a physical storefront where customers can go to buy and pick up smaller furniture items, or where they can view items and order deliveries.
Even a restaurant is a hybrid business if they make deliveries. If you operate a beauty salon but make home visits as well, you own a hybrid business.
How to create a GMB profile for your service-area business
When creating your Google My Business profile, select “No” when asked if you want to add a location. Google will then ask you to select which areas you serve.
You can enter up to 20 areas, so enter as many as you serve. You can enter neighborhood or city names, zip codes, counties, and more.
Google limits you to a two-hour radius from where you live or operate from; don’t enter any area that would require you to drive more than two hours.
Even if you don’t have a physical location, you should still set up a website and enter your URL. You must also provide accurate contact information, so people can get in touch with you.
Hybrid businesses can enter both a physical location and the areas they serve.
What not to do as a service-area business
Common errors can cause Google to take down your GMB profile, including creating multiple profiles for the same business. Some business owners think it will help them be seen by more people, but that’s a mistake. Unless you have more than one physical location, you can’t create more than a single profile for the same service-area business.
Another blunder enterprises make is mistaking their service-area businesses for hybrid businesses. Your storefront must have permanent signage and be an actual place of business. Your home office doesn’t count, and neither does a storage facility where you store your goods but which is not open to customers.
To verify your shopfront as your location of business (if you run a hybrid business), it will need permanent signage. A sign on the gate or a small banner won’t work for Google, so you can’t just turn your garage into a place of business by putting a banner up.
Finally, never rent one of those “virtual offices” or a virtual mailbox and list it as your business address. You can’t fool Google — they’ve got enough data to figure out which addresses these services are using.
What to do if you set up your profile incorrectly
What if you already set up a GMB profile and selected a location, despite being a service-area business? Fortunately, you can delete the address you entered and instead enter your service area.
Do this as quickly as possible. If you wait too long, Google may take down your listing. Google periodically does mass takedowns to fight spam.
You may also delete service areas at any time. If you switch from a service-area business model to a hybrid one, you can enter your new address as well.
Tips for optimizing your GMB profile as a service-area business
Once you’ve created your GMB profile, it’s important to continue building and optimizing it, so you get seen by more people and rank higher in the areas you serve. Here are some tips that can help your profile stand out and outrank the competition.
1. Choose the right category
When creating your profile, pick the right primary category and secondary categories that best fit your business. That will help you get seen by the right people.
For example, if you’re a plumber, you can select “drainage service” as one of your secondary categories. If you offer multiple services, such as HVAC and plumbing, choose multiple secondary categories.
2. Add pictures
Images allow potential customers to see what you do, who you are, who is on your team, and the actual results you’ve brought to customers.
You can create graphics explaining your top services, ask customers for permission to showcase work you’ve done for them, take pictures of your equipment, and even take photos of yourself busy at work.
3. Respond to reviews
Encourage customers to leave reviews (just don’t incentivize them by offering them free stuff in exchange). Respond to reviews, both positive and negative, so people see you care.
4. Answer questions
Google allows people to ask questions on a GMB profile. Anyone can answer them, but if you wait for others to do so, the information they provide might not be totally accurate.
Monitor your profile for questions and answer them promptly. It will show that you are attentive to customers’ needs. Also, many leads will have similar questions, so it can help you skip steps in the sales process and get to the sale quicker.
5. Publish GMB posts
Google My Business posts allow you to provide quick updates about your services, Covid-19 information, discounts, and more. Publish posts regularly, so people can see you are active.
6. Use the right attributes
When appropriate, attributes such as “women-led” can help you rank higher in some searches. It’s only relevant in some situations, such as someone looking for a psychologist who is a woman or from their community, so they feel better understood.
Many small business owners know about Google My Business, but not everyone knows that service-area businesses must set up their profiles differently.
Our GMB Foundations service can help you build and optimize your service-area business’s GMB profile to get better results and drive more sales.