Do Service Areas Impact Rankings for Local SEO in 2023?

By Darren Shaw
on January 23, 2023

I recently made a video presenting some new evidence that service areas might impact rankings in local SEO. However, upon further investigation, I realized that I was wrong.

In this new video, I go over an update to this case study and discuss a surprising discovery related to the address your business was verified at. Take a look.

Video Transcript

Hey everybody, I recently published a video where I talked about how service areas seem to be impacting rankings. This was the very first evidence I had ever seen that making any changes to your service areas would have an impact on your rankings.

Summary of my last video on service areas

I just want to recap that situation for you here. It started when Jimmy had tweeted me about this situation where, with his address hidden, he ranked pretty well in the service areas he wanted to rank for; but as soon as he showed the address on his listing, his rankings dropped drastically.Want your ranking analysis to look this clean? Check out the Whitespark Local Rank Tracker!I thought this was pretty amazing. I was like “wow service areas are potentially impacting rankings.”

The Local Search Forum Discussion

It’s actually pretty funny because at the same time that I published this, Joy had also published a blog post about how service areas do not impact rankings. So people started talking about this on the Local Search Forum. Luke Durand was like “hey, Darren says service areas do seem to impact rankings, but Joy says they don’t; What’s the deal?”Well, I actually think I got this one wrong. I think Justin here is on the very right track. He says it really seems to be related to the showing or the hiding of the address, not necessarily the service areas. So he asks: “Does adding more service areas increase the rankings in those areas?”

What if we completely remove the service areas?

I really liked that concept, but I decided to take a slightly different approach because he already had service areas set on his listing. I thought “well, what if we just completely removed those service areas, and then we’ll see how that might impact his ranking.”This is his listing now.His service area used to be much bigger. He had this whole outline selected here, but he removed those service areas from his listing and now his service area is set to just Saratoga Springs. He did this on December 20th, and as you can see, removing the service areas from his listing while continuing to keep his address hidden had absolutely no impact on his rankings whatsoever.

What happens when you hide your address?

But hang on a minute, because something really interesting has come to light in this case. It turns out that this listing was originally verified at a completely different address. The red star shows where the Google Business Profile was originally verified, and the blue star is where it is currently located.When he shows his address on his listing, it’s like Google is saying “OK, this is where you’re located and this is the radius that you can rank around” when he hides his address. Now, Google doesn’t have an address associated with the listing, so the only address it can use is the address that the listing was originally verified at.

Alright, I hope that clears up the mystery of the service areas. I think the thing that we learned, which is something we already kind of knew, is that if you hide your address on your Google listing, the only address Google can use to rank your business is the address that the business was originally verified at.

Alright, see you next time.

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