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How To Do Local SEO for Businesses Without Physical Locations in 2021

Posted by MiriamEllis

“My business clears local transmissions, but doesn’t have a storefront. How do I treat enumerates administration? ”

“I work from home. How should I is being done regional SEO? ”

“Are there any gratuities for doing neighbourhood SEO for patients like NerdWallet or Credit Karma that serve all customers practically? ”

Queries like these about doing local SEO for businesses with nuanced, concealed, or no physical locations and with varied simulations of client realization are AMA FAQs and perennial topics on commerce fora. Attendees at the recent Moz Webinar on The ROI of Local SEOrepeatedly asked about this subject.

Business owneds and purveyors who haven’t serendipitously detected Google’s numerous recommendations are left wondering how to promote non-brick-and-mortar brands. Even where there’s awareness that such advice exists, Google is continually evolving its stance. It’s easy to originate mistakes, overlook updates, and miss out on opportunities.

The enormous word is, there was still regional sell possibilities for almost every business type, but you have to know which pathway to follow, based on how the firebrand you’re marketing controls. In today’s column, I’ll help you identify your pattern along with the most wonderful opportunities available to you for being discovered by the maximum number of regional customers.

Recognize your business representation

If you’re asking about how to do neighbourhood SEO for something other than a brick-and-mortar brand, risks are, the business you’re marketing falls into one of four categories 😛 TAGEND 1. Service Area Business( SAB)

Most home works( plumbing, landscaping, housekeeping, etc .) fall into this category. You may or may not have physical street addresses that serve as installations or powers, but the defining facet of your business is that you perform nearby clients face-to-face at their points , not at yours.

2. Home-based business

Your home address is your physical locating, and you may either serve nearby patrons at your house( like a daycare center ), or going to see nearby customers to serve them( like a pup hiker ), or you are able to do a combination of the two( like a yoga professor who educates some castes at their residence studio and some as private appointments at buyers dwellings ). The defining aspect of your business is that you’re working out of your room.

* If you work from home but don’t ever convene face-to-face with purchasers for bringing or realization of various kinds, then you don’t fall under this category; you fall under category 3.

3. Virtual business

You conduct all business practically, via phone, computer, shipping, and other remote implies. Your business may be e-commerce( like the Dollar Shave Club ), or volunteer digital services( like Credit Karma ), or sell via print catalogue or other remote approach. You may be operating out of one or more physical addresses and want to get the attention of patrons in various regions or metropolitans, but no customers ever come to your spots. The defining facet of your business is that you never interact in-person with customers.

4. Hybrid business

This category is a sort of catch-all that floods many fluctuations.

One classic precedent is a restaurant with on-site dining where customers pay in person, curbside getaway where customers come to the location but may pay online, and delivery where customers offer online and moves come to their dwellings.

Another variant would be a home works company like a defence specialist with walk-in key grinding at a physical proposition, at-home appointments for station of brand-new fastenings on openings, and e-commerce sales of security makes.

Yet another composite would be a model like the Vermont Country Store, with its brick-and-mortar browses, e-commerce shopping, and huge publication of periodical catalog-driven marketings.

Hybrid business examples became more common in 2020 due to the COVID-1 9 pandemic and other factors, and there is no single defining facet of them. They are simply united when all of them are looking for ways to increase visibility to purchasers in a specific local part.

In most cases, if the business you’re marketing is a hybrid, then your best bet will be to find the related opportunities in modelings 1-3, pair them with any pertinent brick-and-mortar possibilities if those also match your simulation, and progressing well with a very wide, hybrid programme that endeavours geographic visibility by every means possible.

Never do these things, irrespective of your modeling

Before we begin listing out your model-based neighbourhood SEO possibilities , now is the time to protect the brand you’re marketing from unwanted outcomes by avoiding indiscretions. No significance whether you’re trying to earn local visibility for an SAB, a home-based business, a virtual label, or a hybrid, scraping these from your playbook 😛 TAGEND Don’t set up unstaffed virtual places or P.O. chests in an effort to fake sites for the sake of creating local business listings.Don’t set up cords of locations via the houses of staff, friends, or family members in an effort to fake operating multiple locations.Don’t set up inventories for vacation homes, pose dwellings, or empty-bellied properties. You can schedule the sales office of such transactions, but not the dimensions being hired or sold.Never, as a marketer, silently engage in violations of Google’s Guidelines. If you and a purchaser choose together to gamble a penalty or postponement for some reason, you’re agreeing to share the risk of potential disaster, but never undertake a forbidden policy without the client’s knowledge.Be careful about over-promising answers or agreeing to unrealistic goals when emulating against brick-and-mortar businesses. Whether Google is genuinely biased towards orientations that presentation their street address is a topic of long debate, illusion, and hypothesi. What can be said with certainty is that it’s tough rivalling for local visibility with brick-and-mortar brands when you aren’t marketing a brick-and-mortar brand, so go into the work with informed promises instead of unachievable proposes, based on how Google appears to be handling reactions for your key pursuit utterances.

Now we’re ready to talk strategy!

How to do neighbourhood SEO for Service Area Businesses Image Credit: Nacho

Abundant opportunities exist for service area businesses without public physical points. In knowledge, informs to Google’s Guidelines in 2020 generated a more favorable scenario for SABs. We’ll break your activities down into three slice: neighbourhood, organic, and paid.

Local selling for SABs

Your path to success begins in understanding Google’s requirements( which exist here and here) specific to SABs. You should read them in full, but I’ll excerpt the most salient points now 😛 TAGEND In-person contact compelled

The guidelines state that SABs must make in-person contact of some kind with customers to be eligible for a Google My Business listing. However, during the pandemic, do not worry that your transition to contact-less works disqualifies you from inclusion. The business you’re marketing is still an SAB if it’s painting a house or delivering a banquet while at the same time respecting social distancing. Google likely needs to update its guidelines to make this clearer.

Secrete your address involved

You’ll be providing an address to Google in the process of preparing an SAB listing. Even if it’s a dwelling address, warehouse spot, or other equipment you don’t want the public to visit, you must have some sort of address. Then, Google’s guidelines state that you should tell them to hide the address in order to establish the SAB’s listing.

Google will automatically obscure the address if you answer “no” to the question “Do you want to add a locating purchasers can tour, like a accumulate or agency? ” when setting up a new roll.

There are many rationales firms object to this requirement. As mentioned earlier, it’s long been under discussion whether obscuring an address impacts a listing’s regional rankings, but whether or not it does, rolls with veiled address indices shortfall bolts/ markers on Google’s delineated flaunts, compared to their brick-and-mortar copies. It’s a definite impediment in areas of visual jolt. The paucity of a published address may also influence whether customers trust that a business is truly local to them, and he was able to adversely affect calls and makes.

Nevertheless, it’s Google’s position that this business model should disguise its address, and clear its address from the GMB dashboard if it previously published one.

Setting a service area gave

Older GMB listings had a feature that let you named a radius imaging the service area. On new listings, nonetheless, you must enter metropolis or postal code to outline where your SAB acts. You can enroll up to 20 such stations. The frontiers of such areas shouldn’t transcend about two hours of driving length from where the business is based.

No study has ever found that what you enter as your service area blows your regional positions in any way. If you choose to depict them, it’s for the information of customers.

More than one enumerate allowed for some poses

If the SAB you’re marketing has various, separately staffed locations about two hours apart from one another, and with non-overlapping service localities, you’re stood more than one rolling. I most recommend having a unique phone number for each office, if possible.

Joy Hawkins has done a praiseworthy task summarizing the confusion that’s historically bordered this subject, given that Google had previously stated that SABs could only have a single itemize per nation while not appearing to apply this rule to franchises. The recent add-on of the two-hour context has moved the guidelines better and clearer.

However, don’t create multiple indices for the various business the SAB offers. For speciman, an HVAC company may not have one listing for heater fixing and the other for air conditioner repair. Google meets this as exactly one firebrand, and it’s eligible for precisely one listing.

Other documents for SABs

A few last-place things to know 😛 TAGEND Google defines the large, emergent study of soul kitchens as SABs, so all of the above specifications apply to this model.It’s up to you whether you join from your SAB GMB listings to your website homepage or to local disembark pages on your website. The former may supply a higher-rankings improve due to homepages generally having the highest Page Authority. The latter may be better UX for your customers.Don’t overlook the chance to create service menu in your GMB dashboard, directory out all the different presents the business you’re marketing provides.Beyond Google, you’ll be glad to know that other neighbourhood business listings programmes don’t reach rolling SABs so complicated in regards to hidden residences. Unless a specific platform moods otherwise, feel free to expose your address on your other awards, if you like, and experience the opportunity to prove to searchers that you certainly are neighbourhood to them. Moz Local can help you come is available on indices that allow you to hide your address, if you prefer to keep that private. Organic market for SABs

No surprise here that every service area business should strive to publish the best possible website it can. Just like a brick-and-mortar brand, you want a mobile-friendly, self-assured website that furnishes a great user experience, has a strong internal tie organization, compelling consumer-centric content, and steadily growing Domain Authority based on inbound ties deserved over hour. You want to get this locate ranking as highly as you are eligible to for as many of your important scour phrases as possible.

Where things become embarrassing for SABs in the organic sell scenario typically relates to the concept of landing pages. This topic is constantly being discussed at SEO fora, and so we’ll break it down here.

It’s a best rule for brick-and-mortar mannequins to create a unique location landing page for each of their physical stores. The goal of these pages is to serve a specific local public with content that’s been specially designed for their needs related to a particular store location. These pages can rank well organically and can be used as the disembark page URLs for a multi-location model’s GMB listings. SABs with variou physical bureaux can also create these types of sheets as proofs of local-ness, even though they are purchasers don’t come to the offices.

But the great question is: what if the SAB dishes a large area beyond its own physical location? Should location landing pages be created for the venues an SAB dishes?

The answer is, yes, you should consider creating SAB service area disembark pages if you have something unique to showcase in each work metropoli, and if you restraint coverage to a rational geographic area.

For example, a residence painter in the San Francisco Bay Area could create some really beautiful, highly-converting landing pages featuring houses they’ve drew in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Mateo, and Mill Valley, even if they don’t have departments in each place. Each page could places great importance on different accomplished campaigns, historic information about design forms in each metropolitan, joyous purchasers in each municipal, dwelling maintenance gratuities based on the different microclimates of each city, etc. These sheets could rank well and alter purchasers if developed with thoughts and care.

The two things I would recommend that SAB marketers avoided would be 😛 TAGEND Creating repeat or near-duplicate service area arrive pages because there aren’t actually peculiar pieces about the services or purchasers in association with the different cities.Creating vast numbers of these sheets in an attempt to get a single location SAB to rank over a huge area, like a dozen districts or even a mood.

Take an approaching that prepares ability for the customer, and focus on content that will answer their questions and meet their needs. Build a strong internal link arrangement to these pages, try to earn a few good inbound links to them, and track how they are ranking in the localized-organic results for hoped keyword phrases.

Paid local sell for SABs

Anyone who sells SABs knows that one of their key, historic anguish pitches has been being unable to rank throughout their service area because of Google’s bias encircling user-to-business proximity. Despite having a separate gave of rules for SABs, Google continues to treat these simulations too much like brick-and-mortar storefronts, frequently focusing their higher-ranking opportunities around their given( but disguised) locatings.

When your local and organic efforts are failing to earn the visibility you need throughout your focus busines range, Google’s Local Services Ads curriculum gives you pay to fill in the chinks. If the business you’re marketing is in a qualifying industry and geographic region, you can run these ads for the job characters you just wanted to do in the service area you want to cover, and offer Google for the contributes they route. SABs can also simultaneously ranged Google Ads for additional pay coverage.

The downside to LSAs and Google Ads is that they require an investment( as opposed to the “free” visibility of regional bundle and organic makes) and they increase local symbol dependence on Google for receipt. Be sure you’re working hard to turn each Google lead into a reproduction patron outside of Google’s lead gen loop. The upside to paid Google advertising is that it lets you pay for visibility you just can’t earn any other way. If it creates positive ROI for the firebrand you’re marketing, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

How to do local SEO for home-based businesses

Service area businesses may feel at a weaknes because Google involves most of them to hide their address. For home-based businesses, the scenario is often the opposite: many proprietors of these mannequins want to be sure their address is kept private and that and they don’t have confounded customers depicting up at their opening expecting public propositions.

But not all-home based transactions are the same in their requirements and opportunities. When marketing a home-based brand, ask the owner to select which of these situations fits their simulate 😛 TAGEND 1. I help customers in-person at my home and want my address to be public

This could be a daycare center, domesticated groomer, pony boarder, private instructor, or same modeling. In such cases, the business should invest in street-level signage and take every advantage of marketing themselves as a brick-and-mortar business. There’s nothing bracing this business pose back.

If the business is by appointment only, Google favors that you set no hours of operation on your index. Located on your prefer GMB categories, nonetheless, you may be eligible for Google’s booking pieces. And, you can choose to mention in the business description field that access is by appointment merely.

2. I suffice patrons in-person at my home and miss my address to be private

Google doesn’t have clear enough provisoes for this specific model, but mostly you will be handling it as you would an SAB that needs to hide its address. Google wants you to clear the address from the Info section of the Google My Business dashboard. You can choose to add a service area.

If privacy is a special concern for a particular business, it’s important to be recognised that if Google has any record of your dwelling address, bugs or policy change could lead to it being perceptible at some point.

Beyond Google, you can choose to list the business only in those directories that support hidden homes. You likely will not be creating location ground sheets for this model, but may want to focus your website’s content on hyperlocal municipal and neighborhood expressions to seek as much adjacent organic visibility as you are eligible to without an address.

3. I drive from home and suffice clients at their locales

This could be a plumber, accountant, housekeeper, or similar pose where the home base of the business is the owner’s house, but they travel throughout a service radius for manipulate. This framework is just like a normal SAB, in that Google misses the address obscure and a service area be appointed for the listing.

It’s important to emphasize here that home-based SABs are not allowed on the Google Maps product and that Google’s workaround for this is that they can be included in Google My Business by virtue of hiding their homes. Lack to hide the address could risk suspension and removal of the listing.

Beyond Google, feel free to either show your address if you’d like to on your itemizes, or only list on directories that support hidden homes if privacy is most important you. And, just like other SABs, evaluate the above section about whether your operations lend themselves to developing high quality, interesting land pages to represent many metropolis in your service area.

4. I office from dwelling and don’t serve any clients face-to-face

These irrigates became quite foul in 2020 due to the public health emergency make so many parties to work from dwelling, and so many simulates to supersede in-person service with tele-appointments and other forms of remote communication.

In the past, virtual business sits have been strictly exempted from having Google My Business listings. But so much has changed in the world due to the pandemic, and so I moved directly to a Google rep to see how they may have adjusted their stance on this.

I asked how a professional like a therapist who used to have an office and ascertain clients in person, but who is now working from residence and encountering buyers via telemedicine appointments, should be listing themselves. Since their sit is now virtual, have they become ineligible for a GMB listing, or can they still be registered as a home-based business would then be pre-COVID-1 9?

Here’s the answer I received:

So, according to this representative, if the business formerly helped purchasers in person and intends to resume face-to-face appointments when it hopefully becomes safe to do so in the future, then suitability isn’t harmed. List the business as you would any home-based business, following the guidance shared above in this section. It would be a good thing if Google would revise their guidelines to share this timely information.

However, if the business is fully virtual and “ve never” helped purchasers in-person, move on to the next section.

How to do local SEO for virtual business Image credit: Charles Rodstram

E-commerce-only companionships, purveyors of solely digital goods and services, and large, national or international both manufacturers and providers without storefronts all fall under the heading of “virtual business”. Questions most commonly arise in this sector from virtual firebrands that are exasperated by limits of contesting perfectly with local, physical labels for online visibility.

To avoided wasting era and resources on dead-end approaches, it’s best to clearly outline what virtual labels can and can’t do to compete. And, we should also foreground grey areas.

Can’t do

Without offering in-person service, the virtual brand you’re marketing is ineligible for a Google My Business listing. Without having a physical address, it’s also ineligible. You may be able to list the business on some other indices, but in Google’s world, you cannot compete for regional multitude/ local finder/ maps higher-rankings. Really traverses it off the books.

Can do

You can compete for organic positions with the content you produce and the links you make to boost the Page Authority of that content.

You can compete for paid visibility via Google Ads with location targeting in regions that are important to you.

Grey expanses

There are some actions in which a mainly-virtual business might are available for a GMB listing, if they have a staffed installations that needs to be found , not by clients, but by accompanies like B2B collaborators. Nonetheless, for virtual labels with national or international shoppers, such a listing will not in any way help with compete for country-wide neighbourhood bundle rankings.

Localise organic visibility for virtual ventures

In recent times, Google reps have stated that 46% of pursuits have a local message, and that it’s the location of the user that has a much greater impact on the search engine results they’re shown than other forms of personalization. For amply virtual enterprises , none of this is good news, and Google ponderous localization of their organic SERPs leaves e-commerce and other digital-only labels struggling to compete.

In a recent Moz webinar, an attendee would like to know how companies like can grade for searches formulated like “car insurance near me” when Google is most likely to give precedence to truly local ventures+ major labels. The world is, virtual customs have to build all of the organic dominion they can and find a way to localize some specific content as much as possible for the cities that are important “the worlds largest” to the brand.

A common approach that I can’t recommend is the development of thin, duplicate city-level landing sheets for every city across the country. You visualize footers all over the Internet laden with links to dozens of city-level pages of very little value.

Rather, labels contesting for unusually hard words have to continuously invest in building authority to rival a Farmers Insurance or a Geico if they want to be seen as relevant by Google for prime organic visibility for ability expressions. And, where possible, form bring sheets for top municipalities with indeed top-notch localized information on them, sometimes adjusting optimization to target advantageous longer-tail terms.

This is no easy task, and it’s why so many virtual symbols simply end up paying for placement instead of struggling for organic higher-rankings. But take heart. The busines our webinar attendee please provide information on,, is doing extremely well with this landing page for the longer tail examine of “best cheap car insurance in San Francisco” when I research from my place in the SF Bay The Moz Pro On-Page Grader shows what a strong try has been stirred, and that there’s even a bit of room to work better with a few nips 😛 TAGEND

So find your geographic market challengers and scrutiny them to discover where rivalry may be possible with the right mix of authority+ winnable rummage quotations. Designed especially to help you understand which rummage calls to target for organic rankings in different geographic sells around the country is the Moz Pro beta of Local Market Analytics 😛 TAGEND

Local Market Analytics smashes new soil in offering you a multi-sampled view of your contestants in your choose neighborhoods for the search quotations you most need to support with your best content. Be part of the beta of this exciting product in your seek to help a virtual label compete with physical regional businesses.

Summing up

There’s a fairly straightforward local commerce move for each non-brick-and-mortar model, but I predict that 2021 is going to be a year in which we’ll learn further blurring of traditional, well-trodden aisles.

Clearly, more brick-and-mortar brands will adopt digital sales in the coming months to meet the demand for contactless fulfillment, becoming hybrids. Physical retailers will be adopted by sophisticated e-commerce solutions on their own websites and tiptoe into Google Shopping with it’s “available nearby” filter.

Meanwhile, digital-only brands will continue to experiment with the Warby Parker approach of transitioning from full DTC sales to having physical places, manufacturing them eligible for neighbourhood jam-pack rankings. I’d say 2021 gazes less promising for the purposes of the tests than the environment of previous years because of the obvious need to limit in-person shopping due to the pandemic.

And, also because of COVID-1 9, industrialists who consume 2020 experimenting opportunities to support themselves by labouring from home may begin to enjoy their first hard-won success in the new time. They will feed the scope of brick-and-mortar, SAB, virtual, and hybrid frameworks, all from their living rooms.

The onus will be on Google to remain relevant by ingest all this conversion and continually reevaluating whether their specifications wonder current commercial-grade actuality or need new updates. Be on sharp lookout for new opportunities that may arise from guideline revises and brand-new Google boasts over the next few months.

For brands and their marketers, the task at hand is to identify the easy, medium, and hard-boiled local and organic makes based on the business model, and then supplement with paid inclusion where acquires can’t be had in another way.

Having trouble receive your earns? Contact Moz to learn how our SEO software can help. We’re wishing you good fortune in the year ahead!

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