Service area has long been one of the features that, for unknown reasons, hasn’t been visible on Google Maps, although it was introduced more than 2 years ago. Today I noticed that it already is visible. Google hasn’t made any official statement for when this happened, but I would bet it was around the time (or together with) the “expanded coverage of buildings footprint” update on Google Maps from a few days ago.
Here is how it looks like:
Note the description of the service area (I surrounded it in a red square in the screenshot) – it hasn’t been displayed publicly since the “Additional Details” section disappeared from the Google Places listings the last year. Here is how a listing with service area set to match the city boundaries looks like:
What the implications on local SEO might be?
It could be expected that Google might start using this information as a ranking factor, but until particular boundaries, i.e. if a business’s service area has an average radius of 10 miles, it could be much more likely that Google should give advantage in the areas which are near the central point of service of the company. If Google wants to be more accurate when using such data, they could use a system similar to the one which Bing is using for its categories – giving the opportunity to the business owner to decide which area they service mostly and which area is nearest to their original “station” of business. This is all to be seen.