In November 2019, Google officially announced a 20 location limit the number of service areas a business can list for its Local Google My Business listing. This means you can set your service area based on a combination of entire cities, districts, postal codes, or other areas that you serve. The Google website currently allows you to select both states and counties, as you can see from the screenshot below. Thus you can technically have a very large service area, covering 20 states including the large states like Texas and California.
Besides the 20 Area limit, does GMB limit the size or your service area?
As of today, the only official service area limit is 20 locations (Cities, Towns, Zipcodes, etc)). At least this is what we can see from the official GMB Guidelines. However, we recently learned that there are unofficial service area guidelines from Google Twitter Support. After reaching out to Google support on Twitter for help with an unrelated topic and they told us that our listing was at risk for suspension because we had a service area that exceeded 999km. See the chat transcript below.
Twitter Google My Business Transcript
Boston Web Designers: I received the great marketing Kit with cool graphics to share reviews but when I go to post them all I get is a loading message for the graphic. http://prntscr.com/q78mid –
Google My Business Support: Hi there, Thanks for reaching out! We’d love to assist with your issue! Before we can troubleshoot we’ll need to confirm your affiliation with the business. Could you please provide us with the dashboard URL for the verified page? To get your dashboard URL, follow these steps: Please login to http://business.google.com and select your business location? Once selected you’ll want to copy the number listed in the url http://business.google.com/b/(number here). Please be sure to only copy the b/number and do not include the full URL. Once we have that info we can further assist! – Dani
Google My Business: Hey James, Thanks for the info. In order for us to investigate further, could you reply with step by step screenshots of uploading the post, as well as the specs for the graphics in question? Once we have that info, we can troubleshoot further. Thanks, -Brad
Boston Web Designers: Here is a link to a video with the entire issue. drive.google.com GoogleMyBusiness.MP4 The goal is to use your new Kit to promote some of our reviews as posts. This is a nice feature if we can get it to work
Google My Business: Hi James, Thanks for the video. Before we proceed further, we’ll need to ensure your listing meets our guidelines, found here: http://spr.ly/60181paM8 It looks like currently, you have your service area radius covering the entire ‘Massachusetts’. Google My Business listings are intended to display for your clientele within your local area whom you’ll make in-person contact with. Please reduce your service area to local area where you go out to serve your customers. A service area more than 900 km may put your listing under review. Learn how: http://spr.ly/60191paMD Once done, please reply, and we’ll look into this for you. -Liz
I am trying to understand. If you (Google) did not want people to pick an entire state like Massachusetts, why did you make it possible? Also, I didn’t see anything that said the largest area you can pick is a 90 km radius. Can you show me this in the guidelines? I will do as you ask but it will take a lot of time to add all the cities and towns
Google My Business: Hey James, Thanks for your response! Could you please try downloading the marketing kit on your computer first, and then try to upload it on post? Secondly, The service area feature is designed for businesses who physically visit or deliver to local customers. So we’d suggest you to edit your service accordingly. Do let us know if that works for you! Best, Kim
Boston Web Designers: BTW we also have customers all over the country and sometimes visit them to do training or onsite support for their web services. For example, we work with BGE, Honeywell and Con Edison. Should we remove the service area entirely?
Google My Business: Hello James, Thank you for the information! Under our guidelines, you should limit the service area of a listing to the local areas you are able to travel in order to meet face-to-face with your customers. Additionally, please note that a service area exceeding 999km may result in suspension. We advise that you edit your service area accordingly. Best, Max
Boston Web Designers: ok working on this today, thanks for the help A Google Featured snippet for the search “How many KM wide is Massachusetts?” showed that it was 190 miles or 305 Km wide. Should we be using square km? I look forward to your feedback and direction
Google My Business: Hello James, Please note that service area uses square km/mi. Furthermore, please note that the state of Massachusetts exceeds 999km: http://spr.ly/60101krnn We hope this answers your questions and concerns. Best, Max
Boston Web Designers: Excellent clarifications. We will also inform and update our client’s listings. Do you have a web page that clarifies the guidelines including that it is squared km/mi that we can share with them?
Google My Business: Hello James, You can find our guidelines in full here: http://spr.ly/60111kpj9 Best, Max
Boston Web Designers: Hi Max, I read this multiple times and did not see where it describes the square km for the service area, please correct me if I am wrong. All I see is that the service area should include no more than 20 locations. I assume now that this means cities and towns and not states. Will Google be removing states as an option for selecting service areas? Please don’t take it the wrong way. I am not disputing what you are telling me, I just need to show my client proof that the guideline exists and is documented somewhere on Google’s website before changing their listing. I changed the service area for Boston Web Designers
Google My Business: Hey James, Thanks for the info. I’ve escalated this concern over to our specialist for further review. I will follow up soon with an update. Regards, Lisa
Google My Business: Hey James! The reason behind adding service area to your listing is to put out a radius where customers can find you and also you are reachable to them. If you are adding a county which is large but still you can reach out to your clients, please go ahead and add to your listing. However, our team is still working on the issue. We’ll get back to you once we have an update. -Kaya
One thing is certain, Google My Business guideline needs clarification.
The problem we have is that Boston Web Designers has a service area that covers a large part of New England. This seemed like it could be accommodated during the set up of our GMB listing. We could have selected multiple states, but only selected Massachusetts. Selecting 20 separate cities or zip codes would clearly be more work. Therefore, it was easier and made sense for us to pick Massachusetts since we can easily cover the entire state. But now we are learning that our listing can be suspended for covering too large an area.
How should Google handle service area limits?
In our opinion, how large a service area is should depend on the specific needs of the company and its customers. Some companies have a larger service area due to the nature of the work that is done. For example, B2B companies may provide service to a customer with many locations and naturally would have a need for a larger service area. Consumer-focused companies would likely visit customers at their homes and want to limit their service area to a smaller radius.
What do you think?
Should GMB have a Service Area Radius of 999 sq km? Should it be different for B2B vs B2C companies?
It might be helpful for you to know who else is impacted by this guideline. Leave your comments on Twitter.