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?

Probably not.

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.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing

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About The Author: is Managing Director of Proteus SEO , which specializes exclusively in B2B search engine optimization, and Proteus B2B, which specializes in repositioning business-to-business companies and their brands. You can reach Galen at gdeyoung@proteusb2b.com and follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://googleplaceshelp.blogspot.com/ RandyKirk

    Thanks for a very solid story on the new Google Places. There is so much disinformation out there, it is nice to see an article that has it right. I have over 200 listings completed for small businesses all over the country under the old Google Maps Local Business Center. Virtually all of those businesses have outside status on the 7-pack. Many have stand alone status. Since I specialize in marketing for the very businesses that need to get highly rated, I have had to become very, very efficient and proficient at this service.

    There is so much to this story that I decided to give it away. I could never serve .01% of the businesses who need what I know. So I have spent 40 hours creating a blog that includes almost daily updates all specifically about how to optimize Google Places. No charge. No obligation. http://www.GooglePlacesHelp.blogspot.com

    Interesting side note. The blog has been active for 10 days. I have listed it with every directory known to man. Google has not “recognized” it yet. I’m beginning to think they don’t like my URL. Any thoughts?

  • http://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/psychiatrists-london.htm harleytherapy

    We have noticed that the website listed alongside our business details belongs to another business!

    After the help of an SEO consultant, we rank number 1 on the search term ‘Psychologist London’ (Name Harley Therapy), but now the website is not correct. There is another listing with our name ‘Harley Therapy’, which we have tried to claim, and are waiting for our verification postcard, but nothing has arrived.

    We also worry about the Business name which our consultant seems to have placed keywords in, with our business name at the end. We worry about changing this, as the last time we updated our information, we dropped out of the rankings entirely.

    Our questions:
    1. Is there another way to obtain a verification PIN other than by postcard? It only seems to give us the postcard option presently.
    2. Why did changes we made last time obliterate us from Local Business listings?If we change the business name from “Psychologist London Psychotherapy London Counselling London – Harley Therapy‎” to “Harley Therapy”, will we drop out of the rankings again?
    3. Any other tips to correct our business website. http://www.harleytherapy.co.uk
    It’s unfortunate that we are losing clicks to another business entirely.

  • http://twitter.com/matpay1 Philippe Jacquet

    Hi, can any one tell me how long does it take for the verification card to arrive. I updated my listing a month ago and still waiting for it to arrive. So that I can verify it.

 

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