Lots of Service Needed For Multi-Location Service Businesses

If you’ve ever wondered what actually goes into the marketing for service area businesses, you are either in the industry or have too much time on your hands. For those service professionals (IE – plumbers, electricians, hvac) still reading, we offer some insight into the challenges facing local service businesses and some thoughts on how to correctly build your local presence.

One of the questions we get often asked by almost every client is ‘How do I rank in other cities?’. In fact, it’s probably every one of our service-based clients who ask this.

The fact of the matter is as Google and others mature their search product, Organic results are minimized to make way for more and more paid results. I’m not predicting I know the end of SEO as we know it, but it’s increasingly just PART of the overall strategy.

On to the BIG question. Here’s how to rank your service based business in other cities:


  • Your city

Paid Ads:

  • Nearby City
  • Nearby City
  • Nearby City

That’s right folks. It’s pay to play more and more, especially if you or your employees cover a large distance during the typical work day.

Google has recently released updates to Paid Ads that allow Ads placement in Maps results, meaning no matter what you do Organically, if someone is willing to pay for the 1st position in Maps within certain cities, they now can.

So for YOUR market, use SEO. For other markets, use Paid Ads.
For Local SEO in YOUR market, Google’s Local Pack ranks your business on 3 big factors:

  1. Relevance (Are you a plumber?)
  2. Prominence (Are you a good plumber with lots of reviews?)
  3. Proximity (Are you a plumber near me?)

Notice how these three factors are also how people typically seek out a new business? So now, if you are a business trying to rank in another city, you immediately lose your Proximity advantage, and are competing against business in that location with all factors well covered. You’d have to fight extra hard to acheive the same results they easily acheive in their city. That means links, reviews, and other Prominence factors must be on full display.

Realize this is easier acheived if you are a HVAC based in a large city and cover the small towns around that city. Businesses in the South and West typically have more ‘coverage’, while a NYC plumber basically has to fight thousands of other plumbers in the same city block.
Investing in Local SEO for multiple cities is possible but…

Get ready for the ‘calls from Google’ telling you your maps listing isn’t claimed but they can claim it for a fee. Get ready for the disappointment of seeing your competitors somehow outrank you, even though you’ve keyword stuffed the crap out of your landing pages.

But seriously, if you are going this route, consider having a physical presence in those cities. Google uses the ‘onsite signage’ rule to determine if a business physically exists, so no virtual offices or gas stations. Certainly no parks. Google has photographed almost every street in the US. So you know… they’ll know. Consider opening a regional sales office. I hear retail is cheap these days.

Brand links are important. You have to convince people to let you drive 50 miles out of your way for a job. You should have a recognizable name. A national brand with national advertising helps. Links directly from brand websites help increase Prominence.

Get reviews from the targeted city.Showing that you’ve done quality work in an area is good word of mouth advertising that quickly becomes positive reviews online. Give your customers in these areas a nudge and ask them to write a review.

Consider a paid ad budget.Seriously, when we are able to undo years of hard SEO work with a simple Paid Ad campaign, it makes no sense to build an artificial presence that can easily be overcome by your competitors. The truth is you have to be both places on Google, in Organic results and in Paid Ads.

To sum up multi-location SEO.Build a physical presence in targeted markets and grow your Organic results through Brand marketing and positive reviews. Look legitimate. Have great signage. Wrap your work vehicles in nice vehicle wrap. Show up on time and do great work. Inspect all your jobs and your subcontractor’s work. Do all the hard work right and your Organic rank will build. For all the time between, utilize a Paid Ad management company to break you into new markets.