Google recently rolled out an update to the Google My Business platform that changes the way that a service area is defined for local businesses. This change allows you to be more specific with your service area, and it should provide a better experience for people searching for local businesses that are available in their area.
Who is this for?
This is intended to be used by a business “that serves customers at its business address, but also visits or delivers to customers.” So if you are an attorney who only sees clients at your brick-and-mortar location, this is not for you.
What is actually changing?
Prior to November 2018, a service area would be defined as a radius from your physical address, defining a circular area with your office at the center. This update removes the capability to define the zone as a radius, and instead replaces it with a much more granular system. The service area is now defined in a similar manner to the location targeting that is used in the Google Ads platform; specifying an area as large as a state or city, or as small as a single zip code.
How is this useful to my law firm?
For an attorney that is willing to travel to meet a client, it can be difficult to show up in local searches outside of the immediate area surrounding your office. This update may be able to help solve that issue. By telling Google that you are willing to travel to service a potential client in a city that is further away, you are more likely to show up in a local search in that city.
This is not going to be a solution that works as a standalone piece; it should be paired with other optimizations for the further locations, such as creating localized content for specific areas that you want to target. You will still be fighting to overcome the firms that do have a physical location in the target city, so it is key that you maintain a holistic view of how your marketing efforts mesh together if you want to break into a new market area.