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Local SEO For Non-Physical Businesses: Overcoming The Challenges

Overcome challenges to maximize organic visibility and reach more local customers. Get more customers to use Google to find your business with this guide.

It’s hard to overstate the value of maximizing your organic visibility for location-based searches.

A well-executed local SEO strategy lets you reach far more local customers, which can deliver a massive boost to your in-store and online traffic and sales.

But if you don’t run a brick-and-mortar business, can you still take advantage of local SEO?

Fortunately, the answer is yes!

Today, we’ll explain how to overcome the challenges of building a solid local search presence without a physical storefront.

Difficulties Of Local SEO For Non-Physical Businesses

Search engines take into account the physical location of businesses when determining the most relevant listings to rank for local searches.

If a company has an address in Nashville, Google may rank it higher for user searches in and around the city.

But this poses an obvious concern for businesses without a physical address.

If search engines use the physical proximity of a business to a search user when ranking location-based results, how can a business with no physical location compete, even though it serves the local area?

The good news is that although having a physical address may make maximizing your local SEO presence easier, you can still succeed without a physical address.

For example, provided you run a service-area business (that is, you still have face-to-face contact with customers — just not at your own business address), Google allows you to create a Business Profile to manage your local visibility across Search and Maps.

For clarity, here’s Google’s official word on the matter:

“You can have a profile if your business doesn’t have a physical address as long as you make in-person contact with customers… You may also have a profile if you’re a service-area business that visits or delivers to customers directly, but doesn’t serve customers at its business address, like a plumber or cleaning service.”

And besides creating a Google Business Profile, there are a few other techniques non-physical businesses can use to boost their local SEO presence.

Let’s look at each solution in turn.

5 Ways To Master Local SEO Without A Business Address

1. Correctly Configure Your Google Business Profile

The first approach is to properly set up a Google Business Profile (GBP) for your service-area business.

A Google Business Profile is a tool that lets you create and update a free listing for your business across Google. Essentially, your GBP gives Google users a quick snapshot of your business, providing helpful information about things like opening hours, contact details, and customer reviews.

Here’s the GBP for a mobile car wash near me in Memphis, TN:

google search: mobile car washScreenshot for search term [mobile car wash], Google, January 2023
Google’s guidance for configuring a GBP for a service-area business differs slightly from its guidance for brick-and-mortar establishments.

The main difference is you have to specify your service area by city, zip code, or other type of area – not by your address. You can select up to 20 service areas, but the boundaries of all the combined areas should be within 2 hours’ driving distance from where your business is based.

Also, ensure that within Business Profile Manager, you leave the business location field blank under the Info tab. Setting your service area is enough to let Google (and search users) know where you operate.

2. Create Localized Content Targeting Location-Based Keywords

Generating location-specific content is another effective way to boost your site’s relevance for local searches, even without a physical location.

This involves creating content, service pages, blog posts, success stories, and other forms of content about topics relevant to the different communities you serve.

Incorporating geo-specific keywords into your content (like the name of the city or neighborhood you’re addressing) will help amplify your search visibility for relevant local searches.

For example, if you run a pool maintenance service in Phoenix, you might create articles titled “Top Challenges of Pool Maintenance in Phoenix’s Summer Heat.”

These articles integrate local keywords, address specific issues Phoenix pool owners are likely to encounter, and showcase your company’s understanding of local pool maintenance needs.

3. Develop Location-Specific Landing Pages

Creating dedicated landing pages for each of your target locations is another way to enhance your ranking potential for local searches.

These pages could include information about the specific services you offer in that area, local management, testimonials from local customers, and region-specific offers or promotions. Once again, be sure to incorporate local keywords to signal to search engines the relevance of your pages to local searches.

However, if you choose to implement this tactic, don’t just replicate the same basic page across different locations, changing nothing except the name of your target area.

Each localized landing page should be unique, providing genuinely useful and relevant information specific to that area. Duplicate content with only minor changes can negatively impact your SEO efforts.

4. Encourage Reviews And Testimonials From Local Customers

Accumulating reviews and testimonials from local customers is yet another way to boost your local SEO as a non-physical business.

Such reviews provide social proof to potential customers and demonstrate to search engines that your business is relevant and reputable within a specific area.

For this reason, you should encourage your local customers to leave reviews for your business on platforms like Google Business Profile, Yelp, and Facebook.

Keep in mind that asking for positive reviews in exchange for discounts, free services, or other financial incentives violates these platforms’ policies.

Instead, you should solicit honest customer reviews via thank you pages on your websites, follow-up emails, social media posts, and so on.

Responding to reviews is just as important as asking for them. Engaging with customer feedback reinforces your reputation for high standards and willingness to improve your services.

Plus, Google actively encourages businesses to engage with reviews to help improve local rankings.

Likewise, showcasing reviews and in-depth testimonials on your site, particularly location-specific landing pages, will instill confidence in potential customers about the credibility of your company.

5. Manage Your Local Citations

Finally, creating and updating online mentions of your business’s name, service area, and phone number can help your local SEO efforts.

Citations from reputable sites like Yelp, Foursquare, and local business directories signal to Google the relevance of your company in a specific area.

The key thing to remember when managing your local citations is that your business details should be accurate and consistent wherever they appear. This uniformity gives search engines more confidence to surface your business in local search results.

Also, keep in mind that the quality of your local citations is more important than the quantity. It’s best to prioritize getting listed on directories relevant to your industry and area of operations.

What About Online-Only Businesses?

So far, we’ve focused our attention on non-physical businesses that still make in-person contact with customers within a specific area.

But what about fully virtual businesses? Can they still enjoy the rewards of local SEO?

Again, the answer is yes – but it’s more difficult to achieve.

The main disadvantage virtual businesses face with local SEO is the inability to create listings on Google Business Profile and online directories that require, at the very least, a clearly defined service area.

That said, online-only businesses can still amplify their local search relevance by implementing the other tactics listed above: Creating localized content, targeting location-specific keywords, developing local landing pages, and gathering reviews and testimonials from local customers.

No Address? No Problem

Running a business without a physical address doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of local SEO.

There are several other ways to let search engines know that you operate within a specific geographic area, from creating a GBP to publishing location-specific content.

Just remember that managing your local SEO efforts is an ongoing process whether or not you have a business address.

More resources:

Featured Image: WBMUL/Shutterstock

Category Local Search
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Adam Heitzman Managing Partner at HigherVisibility

Adam Heitzman is a co-founder and managing partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm. Having been a marketing executive ...

Local SEO For Non-Physical Businesses: Overcoming The Challenges

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