Service-Area Business vs. Physical Address for Local SEO

We will break down Google’s guidelines for both options to help you make an informed decision on service-area business vs. physical address for your Google Business profile.
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It all comes down to the type of your business and Google's guidelines.

To understand whether you should use the service area option or your physical address, we need to look at two things: the type of your business and what Google says you should do in their Google Business profile guidelines.

Following Google’s guidelines is very important, as your business profile can get penalized if you are violating Google’s rules.

But first, let’s see what category your business falls into, so we can understand what guidelines are applicable for your particular case.

What Type of Business Are You?

If your business “visits or delivers to customers directly but doesn’t serve customers at their business address,” you fall under the category of a services-area business (SAB). That is the exact quote from Google’s guidelines.

A services-area business means you don’t have a storefront staffed with your workers to welcome customers during opening hours.

Examples of SABs include plumbers, electricians, landscapers, cleaners, pest control companies, HVAC contractors, home healthcare providers, mobile car wash and detailing services, caterers, home security providers, and others.

In the guidelines, Google also defines a hybrid business: “a business that serves customers at their business address but also directly visits or delivers to customers.”

It could be a dine-in restaurant that also delivers food.

Service-Area Business vs. Physical Address.

So, to understand whether you should select a service area or a physical address, you need to answer a straightforward question: “Can you receive customers at the physical location you want to select during the opening hours?”

If the answer is no, Google clearly states: “If you don’t serve customers at your business address: Clear the address field and only enter your service area.”

You will be able to create one Google Business profile for each metropolitan area you serve and select up to 20 service areas within the metro area.

Service area settings in Google Business.
Service area settings in Google Business.

If your business falls under the SAB, but you have an office staffed with people ready to accept customers, Google allows you to fill in both – the physical address of your office and the area you serve.

How to verify a Google Business profile for a Service-Area Business?

If you have yet to claim and verify your Google Business profile and your business falls under the SAB category, you may be wondering how to verify your listing.

Because in order to verify a Google Business profile, you need a mailing address so you can receive a postcard with a secret code.

So how to go about it if you’re not allowed to have an address?

If you don’t have an office, you can use your home address to receive the postcard.

Google then allows you to hide that address – so no one will know where you live – and you will be able to select your service area.

Does the Service-Area Business Option Have Disadvantages?

Another question you might have is whether there are any disadvantages in having a business listing with no local address, as you probably want your potential customers to see that you are a local business.

If your business falls under the category of a service-area business, then all your competitors probably fall under that category as well.

So, there’s nothing to worry about.

Final Words.

It is crucial to comply with Google’s guidelines, as non-compliance could result in the suspension of your Google Business profile, which would significantly harm your local search engine optimization efforts.

Therefore, it is advisable to thoroughly read and understand the guidelines to ensure that you are following them correctly.

Denis Cherkasov is the founder and CEO of Hot Local Spot, a boutique local SEO marketing agency for small businesses. | LinkedIn

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