Recent Changes to Google Affect Service-Area Businesses

January 16, 2019 2:42 pm Comments Off

Google continually makes changes to its services to best meet the needs of both searchers and business owners. However, a recent rollout of improvements has left many service-oriented businesses scratching their heads. According to Moira Balangue of Nashville’s Third Coast Interactive, the confusion stems from service area updates.

In early 2019, Google made an announcement that improvements were being made for service-based companies with Google My Business accounts. Questions have been pouring in from business owners and the search community, and it’s clear that further improvements are needed. Essentially, the updates removed addresses from service-oriented businesses, leaving their profile with a service area instead of a physical location. This in itself is not a bad thing, but the new feature is not particularly intuitive or user-friendly.

Wordplay

Balangue explains that part of Google’s update removed the option for businesses to actively select that they deliver services and products at their location. Now, a business owner must clear the address from the listing, which automatically changes their status from a brick-and-mortar to a delivery service. This accomplishes the same exact thing is choosing to be a delivery service, and removes the map pin icon and hides the business’s address from the public. Where this causes confusion is that many business owners mistakenly believed their address was deleted completely during the rollouts.

Adding an address

Business profiles were updated without warning. Usually, this doesn’t cause much of a fuss. However, this particular upgrade led to many Google My Business listing owners trying to add their address back to their profile. Business owners logging in after the update were greeted with a message that their address was missing. Those who tried to re-enter their location were in for an unpleasant surprise as Google necessitates re-verification, which is not an instant process. Balangue assures that, despite the missing address, Google has not lost business profile information. The addresses are only hidden from public view.

No more service area

Another point of contention for business owners was that they can no longer select a service radius. Instead, profile managers must manually enter city names or ZIP Codes. This leaves open the possibility of human error if same-name cities in different states are selected. For example, if a pizzeria manager accidentally enters Nashville, Indiana, instead of Nashville, Tennessee, this could lead to calls from hungry people an entire state away. It’s important to note, however, that location-based ranking continues to be based on the original address and not the service area. Balangue notes that businesses must go through the process of adding a new address, verifying it, and clearing it from public view if they relocate. Not doing so means missing out on ranking based on the new location.

Balangue notes that businesses that provide both pickup and delivery services have the option of leaving their address visible, which makes it possible for customers to navigate there directly using Google Maps.

Many business owners have expressed concern about the new update. However, Google makes changes all the time and may eventually release an update that makes the question of business address a simpler one to answer.

Google My Business

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Moira Balangue

Vice President at Third Coast Interactive

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