If you’re the owner of a Google My Business account – or many listings, as we are here at Zinc – you might have noticed an email in your inbox that says that your business profile has been updated. This isn’t an unusual thing to see with an active customer base. Questions, reviews and suggestions often come through for you to respond to or approve, but once your listing information is correct, these are infrequent.
Our Google My Business Management team noticed a higher volume than normal of automatically generated suggestions in our inbox, and quickly began to investigate.
This month, Google announced that they will now be removing the distance-based service area setting on the Google My Business listing. Previously, it was possible to set a radius around your location to encompass everywhere within this area. Now that these are no longer functional, any listing using a radius to show their service area has been automatically updated to the areas closest to them.
The change is designed to give service area businesses a better chance on Google My Business, removing the need to base your service area around a specific location. In the long run, it will prove a better system that helps Google My Business users reach their audience more effectively. Unfortunately for unmanaged listings, this will inevitably result in a smaller service area, less reach and worse results from your Google My Business through automated updates.
Any automatic update to your Google My Business listing is something that you should review and approve or reject when managing the listing. The reason for this is simple: the automatic update will only encompass a certain area that’s chosen by an algorithm. If your service area needs to include certain areas, it’s important that you have gone into your Google My Business listing to check on these.
To do this, open your Google My Business listing and go to the ‘info’ tab. If there has been an automatic update on the account, you’ll see the old information crossed out and the replacement information in orange. For many listings, the automated information isn’t as accurate or inclusive as the previous radius input.
Edit by selecting the ‘pen’ icon and inputting every location you want to target. This can be wider selections (‘Northamptonshire’) or very specific locations such as a postcode area. There’s no limit to the number of service areas that you can put here, so don’t be afraid to cover every base.
Although Google has said that this change will not affect your local rankings, it’s likely that now the change is fully in place, listings will only show for the locations they’re set to serve. Therefore, if your automatic update is inaccurate or missing an important location, you will lose rankings.