Let’s say you’re starting a new business and can choose anywhere in your city to open a physical location. You know the importance of Google My Business and want to be strategic in this move.
Should you go downtown? Should you go center radius of the city? Should you go to a less competitive suburb? Should you open a second location?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. Each business is different, and circumstances differ. I will provide some pointers based on our work with hundreds of local clients along with insight from other industry experts and data provided by Google.
Importance of Having Primary City in Address
If you’re a service-based business, like a law firm, having the primary city name as a part of your address is going to be beneficial. By nature, people will be searching for, “Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer,” versus “New Albany Personal Injury Attorney, “which is a suburb of Columbus.
We’ve seen businesses try and game the system by changing their suburb address to include the primary city. This is risky and not recommended. You need to go by Google’s mapped borders, which you can find in Google Maps.
Oftentimes, you’ll see a neighboring business in your suburb will list the primary city versus the appropriate suburb-city. Sometimes, the postal service will even have it listed differently. You must go based on Google Maps, regardless of what others are doing, otherwise, you can get dinged.
Below is an example how Google Maps shows the mapped borders of New Albany, Ohio. If your business is within the mapped borders, this needs to be reflected on your Google My Business city name.
We’ve dealt with plenty of local business owners who stated, “It’s unfair that my competitor is outranking me just because they are downtown.” While we don’t disagree, those are sometimes the circumstances. If you are located in a suburb, there’s still plenty of opportunity to rank well on your side of town (continue reading).
Importance of Center Radius/Being in Center of a City for Google My Business
Google My business has done a better job of showcasing businesses throughout an entire city instead of just relying on the center radius. You can read THIS ARTICLE from Joy Hawkins, the queen of local SEO, as she talks about proximity becoming more important in the GMB local algorithm. She states, “Basically the new number one ranking factor now is proximity to the searcher.”
Don’t think if you aren’t centrally located in the city it’s doom and gloom, that’s not the case.
That being said, according to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors, Proximity to Address to Centroid is #17 of 50. There’s still a benefit to being in the center of the city.
We’ve seen instances where if you are on the West side of town, your Google My Business page will only populate amongst all the suburbs on the West side but on the East side of town, the results are different and the West side businesses won’t populate. This aligns with Joy’s theory on proximity. That being said, there are many instances when the business in the center radius will populate on both sides, providing an advantage.
Below is a map of Columbus. We’ve drawn a line down the middle to represent the center radius and circled locations on the East and the West. This will provide a better visual representation that once you go beyond the center radius, the business by the Hilltop area (left of the centered line) will have less likely of a chance of ranking.
If you own a pizza shop or a laundromat in a suburb, you don’t have to worry if you aren’t centrally located or don’t have a the primary city in your address. A lot of times, people are searching for, “Pizza Near Me” or “Pizza in New Albany.” Google reported that there has been a 500% increase in “near me” searches.
Below is an example of a Google Search in New Albany for “Pizza Near Me.” Of course, it shows 3 New Albany based pizza companies. When your business is more localized, people will search based on the suburb name more so than the primary city name. There are also a lot more “near me” searches, amongst all industries (even law firms). This means you don’t always need to be downtown or centrally located.
If you are in the fortunate situation where you are about to open up a physical office and have the luxury of choosing your location (or you’re getting ready to move), determine what type of business you have and how people are going to search prior to deciding upon your location. You can also CONTACT THE MEDIA CAPTAIN if you’d like some pointers.
Every business scenario is different based on location, industry and circumstances.
Just because you move your office downtown and you’re centrally located doesn’t mean your rankings will improve. There’s likely more competition and it could bring down your visibility if you were ranking well in half the city or in a specific suburb.
There are many decisions involved in picking the right location for your business. Don’t let Google My Business dictate your decision, but it can certainly come into play when deciding.