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Representation for Service Area Business Reviews in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi,

 

I am relatively new to the Google My Business world, but I have done enough research to become convinced that my business needs to be classified as a Service Area Business.  Long story short, our business is selling moving boxes, but we deliver them to customers rather than operate a retail storefront.  And our delivery areas are pretty big.  For example, one delivery area is the greater Austin, TX area.  We define that as the 5-county area as it is defined by the OMB (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Austin).  Like everyone, we have physical locations (administrative offices, warehouses, etc.), but none of those are designed to service customers in those locations, so that makes us a SAB.  Fine - we can live with that.

 

However, what I have been a little disappointed to discover is how few options there appear to be for an SAB to showcase its reviews.  If I were to be a local business, I could (making some assumptions about CTR/relevance/authority of my site and also about my review quality) show up in the 3-pack of local results - which we all now understand is placed above the organic search results (for "austin texas moving boxes", for example) - and my review info would really "pop".  Also, if I were a local business, I would be added into the Google Places API, which would make it possible for me to extract those reviews (or at least some of them) and showcase them on the (localized) web page I have for our greater Austin business.

 

But alas, as an SAB, neither of those appear available to me.  So all of that background for my questions:

 

1. To start, is my understanding above regarding ability to showcase reviews for an SAB correct?  If not, what other options exist OTHER than providing a link from my localized web pages to my G+ pages for each of my service areas?

 

2. More fundamentally, does anyone have any insight into where Google is going with SABs?  Maybe I am the only one, but I think there is some overloading here in the idea of "local" when it comes to retail/shopping/commerce.  "Local" when searching for a gas station or a restaurant makes total sense.  In a retail/shopping/commerce context, I would argue that seeing SABs that apply to my location is as relevant as seeing businesses with retail storefronts...and if it weren't, why would Google be serving Google Shopping results above the ads in the 2nd column of the SERP (that's what I see when I Google "austin texas moving boxes" at my computer which sits in Austin, TX.  Will there be a day when SABs enjoy some equivalent placement...or at least opportunities for placement?  And will SABs one day be able to extract their review info via a Google API...similar to how local business can via the Google Places API today?

 

3. More specifically, how can I set my review results to show up in the organic search results - regardless of whether I am page 1 or page 19 for a search like "austin texas moving boxes".  In general, I have yet to find an example where the G+ review data for a business is showcased - or even shown - in the SERP unless it is part of the Google Local 3-pack results.  Would appreciate any insight or direction that anyone can provide.  I'm afraid my current belief is that G+ reviews have little value unless you are a local business, but I sincerely hope to be wrong about that.

 

4. Last, in my particular space, I KNOW (by driving there personally) that I have some competitors who are truly SABs, but have used an administrative office to get "local business status" with Google.  Is this what is called "spam" on this forum?  Regardless, how do I report these people and have their "local business" status revoked?

 

Thanks in advance for the help, and my apologies if any of this is rant-ish.  The SAB-related direction and guidance has just been a little hard to come by...at least for me.

 

Thanks again, Morgan

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Representation for Service Area Business Reviews in SERP

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Hey Morgan,

You can still show off your reviews on your site by embedding a map of your location like this example: http://www.bartending-school.com/contact

SABs still show up in the 3-pack. You would rank for whatever city your address is in (even though it's hidden)

A business can get review stars in the organic results but it is not through collecting them on Google My Business but through Schema markup of testimonials/reviews on your website (http://schema-creator.org/review.php)

I have found that reporting listings only works if the location is fake (UPS Store, Virtual Office etc). If they have an address there but don't service customers (administrative, warehouse etc) it is technically allowed if they hide their address and if they aren't setting up multiple listings using multiple addresses for the same business.



Joy Hawkins, Google My Business Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Owner of Sterling Sky
Read My Column on Search Engine Land
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Re: Representation for Service Area Business Reviews in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Hi Joy,

Thanks so much for your reply. A few follow-up questions:

1. Thanks for the link to the Bartending School. That kind of thing is (roughly) what I want to create, but I haven't found it possible. More on why...my understanding of the definition of a Local Business is that it comes down to how the business owner selects the "I also serve customers at my business address" option in their GMB profile for each of their locations. If you select that option, you become "Local" in the eyes of Google. If you don't, you are not "Local" in the eyes of Google. It's that binary - as I understand it. Further, it's my understanding that when that option is selected (and your business therefore becomes "Local"), that Google makes information about your business available through some/all of its many "maps related" APIs. In this case, it's something called the Places API or, to keep the branding current, I think there also a Google My Business API (I am pretty sure those aren't the same, but are related). Being accessible through the Places API is required to get the data required to showcase a map (and related business info) like the one on the Bartending School link you provided...this includes extracting review-related data from reviews written by Google users about your business on G+. And your business only gets to go into the Places API if you are "Local", which happens by selecting the "I also serve customers at my business address" option. Look, I realize that this is pretty far down into the weeds and I apologize for that, but I'm at the point where I need to be able to understand exactly how to implement this for an SAB...or decide it isn't possible and seek other solutions. I have had a Google partner directly tell me about this distinction (i.e. Local businesses go into Places Library/API, but SABs don't), but I am looking to validate (or better yet, invalidate) that.

2. I am mildly (and potentially pleasantly) surprised to hear that an SAB can show up in the 3-pack. I have yet to find any evidence of that. The most intelligent question I can muster is....how? What factors drive 3-pack inclusion/exclusion? I have seen SABs listed in the "expanded" list of local businesses (if you click the "More Places" link at the bottom of the 3-pack), but I have yet to see any SABs in any 3-pack...including well-reviewed SABs.

3. Thanks also for the Schema markup info. I have very recently discovered this and am researching. Unfortunately, it appears that the source of this information is reviews that exist on the website (as opposed to reviews that live in Google+ pages). Perhaps there is a way to manually copy review data out of Google+ and make it available via Schema markup, but that seems tedious.

4. Your 4th point is very interesting..and leads me back to the apparently omnipotent "I also serve customers at my business address" option in GMB. Again, it's my current understanding that to be "Local", you have to select that, and that selecting that means that you actually serve customers at that location any time during your stated hours. I found this article (https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/map-maker/0-0wplytssg)...actually through your Nov 2015 blog post on moz.com - so thanks again! This article by Flash indicates that the kind of SAB that I am (i.e., not a pizza shop with a staffed storefront AND a delivery area) and that my competitors are could be met with harsh sanctions if they select that option but don't have a fully staffed storefront. The specific quote from Flash's article is "Checking this box places you on the map. Places on the map that do not meet Map Maker guidelines are subject to sanctions up to and including complete deletion. The sanctions could include a penalty in Search". So if checking "I also serve customers at my business address" = being on Maps and being on Maps = being Local + having access to Places/Maps APIs and all associated functionality....aren't these businesses misrepresenting themselves and therefore subject to penalty? Or is there a new perspective now (since it has been a year since Flash's article)?

Again, thanks so much and my apologies if this is the wrong forum for this kind of question / discussion.

Thanks, Morgan

Re: Representation for Service Area Business Reviews in SERP

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor
How to Embed a Map: 3) On the business card on Google maps, click the 3 lines to the left of the name. Hidden there under Google's subtle UI is a menu. Click "Embed map". Pick your size and preview.

Google does still consider you local. You are local to the city that is attached to the address you use. You just don't rank in every city around you that you want to service. I would suggest reading this article: https://moz.com/blog/intro-local-seo-service-area-businesses (it looks like you already may have read it).

Here are a couple moving companies that rank in Austin (not in the top 3 but in the top 20) who have their address hidden. You can tell as there is no option to request driving directions and the address does not list the street name.
https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Advantage+Moving/@30.2958158,-97.7613029,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x...
https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Moving+Squad+Moving+Company/@30.2876815,-97.7216355,15z/data=!4m2!3...


You can add reviews to your website from Google (cite them properly so it shows they were originally left on Google) and mark them up. Yes it's an additional step but nothing great in life is ever free :)


Joy Hawkins, Google My Business Top Contributor
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Owner of Sterling Sky
Read My Column on Search Engine Land
MyAdvanced Local SEO Training Manual

Re: Representation for Service Area Business Reviews in SERP

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks Joy - You are becoming my favorite internet celebrity. Everytime I hit a brick wall with the ole google local algo you are right there in answering most of my questions. 5 stars for you!

Morgan - We are in the same boat but on a positive side, within my industry and vertical there are several 1st place local pack SABs ( or SOBs depending on how you see it ;). We are in NYC and everything in NYC is highly competitive. look into pest control services NYC and you will see what I mean.

Good luck and get after it!