• Andrew Shotland

    Mike Blumenthal just posted some more detail on how to use zip codes to influence service area rankings http://blumenthals.com/blog/2013/05/12/google-local-sab-how-to-move-closer-to-the-city/

  • http://twitter.com/JoePistell Joe Pistell

    Andrew, long time fan of your work. Have you any thoughts on this? In a shoppers mind, GEO is relevant to the product. For example, a car shopper uses the major market they’re connected to base their search from (not the suburb where they live, or where the dealer is). In big ticket retail, the distance traveled is great and the “shopper’s GEO anchor” changes. I would think that Google would use the business SIC codes to create business profiles to emulate shopper behavior. Am I nuts?

  • Andrew Shotland

    If you are asking if Google changes the radius of results candidates based on the nature of the query (e.g. auto queries get a bigger radius than restaurant queries), then sure, particularly with mobile results.

    Re the mindset of the searcher, I don’t have any special data on this, so please chime in if you do, but I imagine that while there are a lot of out of market car searches for people looking for a deal, many searchers still start with non-GEO head searches like “cars for sale”, “used cars”, “car dealers”, etc. along with plenty of make and model searches (e.g. 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid). And for these queries, Google is going to show a set of geo results based on the searcher’s location. Although if the user has previously searched out of market, perhaps Google Now might automagically show out-of-market results.

  • Kathy Long

    In addition to #1 for organic, you can get sites to rank #1 in Places even though they’re in a different city by optimizing their listing with important keywords that others have overlooked. For example, where others optimized for “custom cabinets” and chose it as a category, I optimized a client for “custom cabinet maker” and “custom cabinet shop.” They’re #1 for those queries in a few cities 25 miles away, and they’re getting phone calls from there. Because these cabinetmakers go to their customers and service a 60 mile radius, distance is not a problem, and I make sure that is clear on the site.

    Re virtual offices, I hate seeing businesses do this just to expand their reach into areas they’ve never been. I see attorneys doing this quite frequently. I saw one recently with 50 “offices” from San Francisco, to Sacramento, to LA and everything in between, yet they only have one real office. And they go so far as to set up Google Place accounts for each location. What’s odd is I’ve seen them actually rank #1 in Places even though their website only has one page dedicated to that city (confirming #1 above really works). As the really local attorneys get on board with Local SEO though, those virtual listings will drop in rank. They can’t possibly keep up with Local SEO and all its ranking factors in all those cities. So if you’re going to go that route, be prepared to keep working it in those cities cause the competition just keeps getting tougher and tougher.

  • http://twitter.com/SukhSingh84 Sukhjinder Singh

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on local 2.0, I am looking to test the virtual address route too. I am mostly in favour of this technique because as you said, people are still ranking using this technique. However there’s the fear of getting slapped by google, and one thing I don’t understand is how to get over the “virtualness” of the PO BOx address. I suppose maybe geo tagging. and getting citations like reviews for those areas would help bolster their credibility?

    I’ll be testing these things with a client too and will share with you all my results, I;ll be keen to see your results too!


  • http://localmarketlaunch.com/ Brian Coryat

    Thanks Andrew for the fantastic explanation of options for Service Area Businesses! Since there are so many service area businesses, I wonder what Google and other search portals have in the works to service those verticals.

    And, what about the hybrids? We recently had to fight with Google to allow a service area business that listed actual locations (about 1000). Each location services a wide area, but the locations were ALSO were visited by actual clients. Would appreciate your thoughts.

  • Andrew Shotland

    By “fight” do you mean they told you needed to hide your address? If clients are visiting your location, that seems to pass the guidelines IMO

  • Ankit khanna

    Was wondering if i just type in “local seo” would it still rank in houston..

  • http://twitter.com/MastrAnkit Ankit khanna

    Was wondering if i just type in “local seo” would it still rank in houston..

  • http://twitter.com/MastrAnkit Ankit khanna


  • Andrew Shotland

    When I search “local seo” incognito with my location set to Houston, TX, my site has 7 results in the top 100 including my home page which ranks #1. I don’t see the Houston targeted page, which I guess is getting clustered out by my older URLs.

  • energycircle

    Andrew–underlying your suggestion about “punting” on local is the assumption, if I’m understanding you right, that there is a tradeoff for ranking well in either local and organic. In other words, a strong local ranking results in a weaker organic listing and vice versa. Am I understanding you correctly on this? Do we have evidence, or has Google said anything directly about this? Thanks much.

  • bobmeetin

    My goal, for my client, is also to get listed for cities peripheral to his business address, with virtual offices not being reasonable, I’d been pondering zip codes and will probably go there. Unfortunately, we have a more pressing need. After 4 months I cannot even get the business, coincidentally located in Mountain View, to even display with the primary category (in fact no local results at all), not to mention custom ones or phrases in other information. The same type of search works in other cities across the country. Suggestions?

  • oscarkool2

    Hmm, I don’t understand why you get to write on this established white hat seo site when your own seo site is using font size 2 sidebar links. Nice dude! Keep up the white hat…

  • http://www.cheadledatarecovery.co.uk/ John Reid

    Do you think that having multiple virtual offices to present coverage through out a region (or country) is the “right” things to do? I expect most customers realise that these are just PO Box addresses or a virtual office with no staff present. Does it matter? In the sector that I work there are plenty of data recovery virtual offices .