Local search has been a big help to smaller local businesses over the last year or so. They have been able to out-compete their larger rivals simply because the scale of size actually works for them rather than against them when compared to traditional marketing. However, those factors that are working for small businesses may also be working against other small businesses.
Mobile businesses that service an area that exceeds Google’s 50-mile radius can be at a real disadvantage. In today’s economic climate, small one person businesses that operate out of the back of a vehicle will often think nothing of traveling 100 miles to complete a job. Consider photographers, particularly wedding photographers – they travel to wherever their services are required.
The problem with local search is that Google, for example, has that strict 50-mile radius as a limitation to appearing in local search results. That 50 miles is measured from your business’ official address, not from the center of your town. If you want to appear in local search for neighboring towns, you will need to establish a physical presence in that town – an option that is not always viable.
While some businesses are trying to get around this by using fake addresses, Google is slowly weeding these businesses out of its local search results, even if they are legitimately servicing those areas. Google is aware of this problem, since it’s been raised on numerous occasions. However, even they have no recommendations to fix the problem, except for creating a physical presence in each location.
We do have to be fair to Google in this case, however. They are trying to provide users with the most relevant search results possible. Local search is just that – local. So for an out of town business to appear in those results, they would also need to convince locals that they do service that area.
Local search is great for local businesses. It certainly levels the playing field and may even give smaller businesses a real edge of national competitors. You do need to be aware of the limitations and how they may affect your business.