Oct 292012
 

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.

  6 Responses to “Service Area Shows Up on Google Maps”

Comments (6)
  1. A couple of my clients’ listings with hidden addresses show the “Area served” in the bubble, but not the highlighted portion on the map. Does that only become visible on certain searches for the respective businesses?

  2. Hi Nyag, I’ve been seeing this all along. I mean, I don’t really focus on service area businesses much, but numerous times over the past year in helping folks at the Google Business forum I would check to see how they had service area set up and it’s always showed for me, just like you show above.

    • This is very odd. I actually discovered another article, which is from 22 October and it also talks about this, apparently new feature. I’d be interested to see screenshots if you have them though. It might have been Google doing some testing when you previously saw it, because I’m pretty sure this is the first time I see it, and I do work with service area businesses.

  3. Hi Nyag,

    Saw that other post and wondered if that’s where you got the idea.

    I don’t have screenshots but here are a few other people that have some.

    Google blog announcement 4/10: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/04/show-customers-where-youll-go-with.html

    Chris Silver Smith 1/11 http://www.nodalbits.com/bits/city-centroids-replaced-by-outlines-in-google-places/

    Had several other screenshots, but PC locked up and I lost them. But those show the feature has been around for a long time and I’ve been using the feature for a long time when troubleshooting in the forum.

    • Thanks Linda!

      Regarding the other blog, I actually saw it while I was researching about this feature. In fact, I noticed the service area showing up just when I checked the massage parlor that had been ranking for escort searches case you referred me to. What stroke me is the coincidence that both these guys and me had never seen it before. I have, unfortunately, not been around (local search, local marketing, etc.) when the two articles you mentioned have been posted, and I am positive I had never seen this feature before with my eyes. This puzzles me quite a bit… It is, of course, not the first time a feature that is available in the US is not available to me, but why would the guys from VermontDesignWorks also notice it just now (and they are based in the US)?

      Update: I did a small research and found out that the latest screenshot that has service area showing up in Google Maps (i.e. not a screenshot take via the dashboard) is from January 2011 – from the post of Chris Smith. I am unable to find more recent evidence for their existence. I was also checking my “archive” but unfortunately, I have no screenshots taken for businesses with service area set and clicked on via Google Maps. My assumption is that the feature was out initially when Google rolled out the Service Area functionality, but then it was taken down, and just recently reappeared.

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