July 18, 2012
Google Places: Service Area & Location Settings
Google Places classifies businesses by helping them define on the basis of the area they serve.
- If all Customers come to the business location?
- If the business serves customers at their locations?
If businesses are willing to serve customers at their locations Google Places gives 2 options to do this within the dashboard of Google Places.
A) Define a central location of importance for a business & then mark a periphery with respect to this central location.
B) Specify certain cities, zip codes or countries. This is done by individually mentioning areas/ cities/ countries important for one’s business.
The performance (aka ranking) of a Google places listing for a business is a function of a large number of factors. We define the sum of all these factors as the SEO (E)L which the Local SEO Energy of a business.
The primary business location of a business is one of an important factor on which will contribute to the SEO (E)L of a business, when the a user does a local search for that location. We represented SEO (E)L on “Y” Axis & the primary location of a business on X axis (Origin). The locations which are in close geographic proximity to this primary location are also represented on “X” axis.
When we set the Service Area & Location settings while the Google Places listing is in creation mode & when we select the option of“Distance from one location”, we have a view that when this setting is used we indicate Google that a business under consideration is defining its primary location & consequently would wish to focus all its SEO (E)L on that location.
Let’s imagine a case where in a business has SEO (E)L as 100 units. We plot this on the graph we have mentioned above. The pictorial representation should be ideally follow the above exhibited structure. The point we are trying to make is the SEO (E) L should be ideally highest at its primary location & should reflect in the ranking the listing achieves when a search with a local intent is made in that location. This also means that as we are moving from the central location of importance, the rankings will gradually drop as the locations get farther & farther from the central location for that business. When we use the other option available for Service Area & Location Settings of specifying certain, cities, zip codes & countries while the listing is created we have a view that when this setting is used we indicate Google that a business under consideration wishes to equally distribute all of its SEO (E)L among number of specific locations which a business owner is specifying manually.
For the hypothetical example we are considering the Max SEO (E)L is 100 & let us assume that there are 10 locations that a business owner has specified, consequently the SEO (E)L per location will be 10 units & the representation will something as below.
For the above mentioned case no location under consideration is able to get full advantage since the available SEO (E)L is not focused on a particular location of importance for a business.
Location is one of the important factor amongst other factors which contributes to the SEO (E)L of a listing on Google Places. Since we were working on a Local Listing Optimization project in the financial services vertical in USA, we created number of Google Places listings. We also had readily available data on which case is performing better. For each case we have worked on there is a primary location & which is highlighted on the Service Area & Location settings by defining a central location of importance for a business & then mark a periphery with respect to this central location (Say 20 miles).
As an example we had a business located at Westhampton Beach, NY.
The secondary locations for this are Aquebogue, Calverton, Center Moriches, Cutchogue, East Moriches, East Quogue, Flanders, Hampton Bays, Jamesport, Laurel, Manorville, Mastic, Mastic Beach, Mattituck, North Sea, Noyack, Quogue, Ridge, Riverhead, Shinnecock Hills, Shirley, Shoreham, Southampton, Wading River, Westhampton.
The locations mentioned above are located within 1 mile to maximum 30 miles from Westhampton, NY. For this case under consideration we had access to 5 business categories which we had used while creating the Google Places listing, so we have 125 (5 Categories times 25 locations) on which we tested the performance (rankings) for this Google Places listing on those 125 geography centric business keywords for that particular case. We found that as one moves away from the main location (in this case Westhampton, NY) the rankings for that distant location will fall gradually.
To elaborate ranking for a location which is 10 miles away from Westhampton, NY will be relatively low that the rankings for Westhampton, NY as the location. This means that when a business defines its “Service Area” central location of importance for a business & then mark a periphery with respect to this central location the listings have a much better chance of visibility at least in that location of importance which would not had been the case if the business would had defined its “Service Area” by specifying certain cities, zip codes or countries. The corollary to the above mentioned will be if a business listing which defines its “Service Area” central location of importance for a business & then mark a periphery with respect to this central location & is not visible in its own location of importance there is a rare chance that it will be visible in other locations which are surrounding to that location. The rankings on Google Places are relative for any location under our consideration & it is virtually impossible to comment predict the performance of listings at an absolute basis.