Google Updates Details for Multi-Location SABs on Maps

For anyone working on local SEO, you have probably battled to boost your rankings within your desired region or regions.

And for various business types, especially those that run their businesses from their homes, those that do not have physical offices, and those with storefronts that serve more than one area, having multiple listings on Google Maps that meet guidelines has always been very tricky.

Thankfully, to avoid being reported as spam on the Maps, Google has updated their policy on SABs (service area businesses) and how they can use the platform for multiple business locations.

What’s New

According to the updated guidelines, as Sterling Sky first reported, Google allows SABs to have multiple listings if:

  • The business has select staff servicing the different areas
  • The listings’ locations are farther than two hours driving distance from one another
  • The service areas don’t overlap

How to Know if You Are a Service Area Business

On Google Maps, when you claim a Google My Business profile, you have the option to show/list your address on your listing, or hide it. If you hide it, your listing will be taken into account when determining services for a region (as shown below in the translucent red), but you would not get a red marker:

service area businesses

This option is available to all business listings and is used to help businesses avoid being flagged for breaking select rules on Maps, especially being a private residence.

SABs are mostly for businesses that serve customers at their homes or locations, rather than businesses where customers come to you. As you see in the example above, plumbers are a popular industry that use service area business listing types.

Note, Franchises Have Different Rules

As Joy Hopkins stated in the article for Sterling Sky, select types of franchises can bypass the two-hour rule given that franchises are usually under completely different management and licensing for each location.

She mentions a great example on how you cannot call a location to get assistance for a project that another location initially helped you with. Since there is this separation in the business, Google takes this into account.

Co-Working Spaces Are Still Not Applicable

While the updated rules have made it more clear on how to properly utilize a service area listing, Google is still strongly against any sort of listing using a co-working space on Maps as they are often misused and break Google’s rules on staffing requirements.

Have Any Concerns? Reach Out Online

If you are confused at all on if your listing is abiding by guidelines, you can use the Google My Business Support Forum to post your question to receive help. You can also use the Local Search Forum to get answers from experts in the field and read up on other users’ experiences with these issues.

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