Local SEO for companies without physical locations

Breton Towler
March 28, 2024

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Local SEO for companies without physical locations
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Not all local businesses have a brick-and-mortar storefront where customers can browse or buy their products and services. Maximising your local SEO strategy is paramount, as more users turn to Google to find businesses and services in their area effortlessly. But how can you target local customers if you don’t have a physical address?

The importance of local SEO

Increasing your visibility in local search results can help you grasp potential customers searching for your services. From haircuts to book shops and bottomless brunch, residents and visitors want to know the best places to go in the local area.

Can you have a Google Business listing without an address?

You can create a Google Business Profile (GBP) if your business has a physical location customers can visit. Several types of companies can still benefit from a GBP.

Service area businesses

Companies that provide services in owned properties, such as electricians, housekeepers, or plumbers, are known as service area businesses. They don’t typically have an official office location, but the defining feature is they face their customers. Some service area businesses may have a physical location as their headquarters, but it’s not open to the public.

Home-based business

Professionals who travel to nearby customers to deliver services at their homes or conduct business from their own homes are considered home-based businesses.

Understandably, many home-based operations don’t want to publicise their address. You can get around this by listing your business as a service area business (not a physical location that serves customers), which still allows you to list service areas.

Even if clients visit your home to use your business, only you can pass on your address. You’ll also have peace of mind that only those you choose to do business with will know your home address.

Hybrid businesses would also be considered a home-based business. For instance, a person providing pet sitting services at their home on the weekends but goes to a few customers’ houses weekly to walk their dogs.

Common mistakes from businesses without an address

If you represent your business accurately online, you won’t fall foul of GBP guidelines. Here are three common mistakes that businesses without a physical location make.

Setting unstaffed virtual offices and fake locations

Fake information doesn’t sit well with Google or online users. While you might think setting unstaffed virtual offices as your business location will move you up in the world, it will only cause frustration. Similarly, don’t be tempted to use family or staff member’s home addresses to create multiple locations. 

The guidelines state, “a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.” It’s only a matter of time before Google discovers what you’re up to, particularly if customers turn up at the listed location and report it’s not legitimate.

Creating fake locations can result in severe consequences. This includes suspending access to your entire GBP account (including your lawful listings).

Here are some examples of ineligible business addresses:

  • Virtual offices.
  • Co-working spaces (“unless that office maintains clear signage, receives customers at the location during business hours, and is staffed during business hours by your business staff.”).
  • P.O. boxes or mailboxes based at remote locations.

Overlooking the importance of reviews

Positive Google reviews are integral for businesses to rank higher in local search results and attract more customers to use your products and services. Reviews bring a significant element of credibility and trust, especially as they give potential customers a platform to gauge whether you provide quality service.

For Google, they want to serve the most relevant results to the subject being searched. Even if your business doesn’t have a physical location, you can still pull in reviews featuring the best keywords for your industry. For example, if you’re a yoga instructor in Leeds who delivers classes at clients’ homes, reviews can help you rank for terms like “best yoga class in Leeds”.

Google views your reviews as a testament to the level of products and services you offer. It also demonstrates your authority position in the market. The more positive reviews you have, the higher you will feature in the SERPs.

Poorly managed Google Business Profile

A poorly optimised GBP can initiate damage to your “non-bricks-and-mortar business”. Incorrect information, such as phone numbers and opening hours, or failing to detail your essential services and products will cause you to lose ground in online searches.

Keep your profile active by encouraging customers to post reviews, publishing Google posts, updates, and photos regularly, checking accurate business information is displayed.

How to optimise a Google Business Profile without an address

Even without an address, an optimised GBP can do wonders for your local business. Let’s look at ways to elevate your GBP so you rank highly locally and attract customers.

Understand the restrictions

You will only be eligible for a GBP with a physical address or a geographical area where you serve customers. This means virtual businesses like Airbnb, which conduct their operations online or over the phone without in-person interaction, must find other ways to improve their local organic reach. Exceptions to this rule include:

  • ATMs
  • express mail drop boxes
  • seasonal businesses (although they must provide signage year-round)
  • video-rental kiosks
  • virtual kitchens (as service-area businesses.)

Add a clear business name, location, and opening hours

Many local businesses fail to add key information like their opening hours or exact business name as it appears in the real world. A complete profile helps you climb the ladder in local search results and entices customers to interact with your brand. Details like a clear business name, location or service area, and opening hours are all quick wins.

Make sure there is a clear description

You have complete creative control over your “from the business” section, which appears below your reviews. Here, you need to describe what makes your business unique, your target location or service area, your primary business category, and why they should choose you over your competitors. Aim to mention this information within the first 250 characters (of the 750 available) where possible.

Naturally include keywords that online users would use to find your business and mention your highest-value products and services. This helps search engines understand your main offerings and increases your chances of attracting leads.

Add photos if you can

Customers and profile owners have the power to upload images of your business. Even though you can’t upload pictures of your physical business location, photos of your work or satisfied customers can be a valuable addition.

Customer-generated content isn’t always reliable for the best quality image or showing your boiler installation in the best light. That’s why it’s good practice to supplement any customer photos with your own high-quality images.

Focus on Q&A's

An underrated feature of a GBP is the Q&A (Questions & Answers) section. It’s good to get ahead of the game by pre-empting the things somebody who knows nothing about your business might ask. This is because anyone with a Google account can post questions and answers on behalf of a company.

If you’re a plumber, mention if you charge a call-out fee. If someone is interested in your dog walking services, they might want to know how many dogs you walk at a time. Responding promptly to incoming questions reduces the chances of incorrect answers displayed.

Encourage reviews

Nothing will sell your business to online users more than a positive word of mouth from customers who have previously used your business. While a handful of positive Google reviews are nice, you need to accumulate a high number over time to give Google confidence in your services and maintain a beaming online presence.

Reach out to past customers and ask them to chip in. We suggest starting with your most loyal customers first, as you have a long-standing relationship with them and, as such, are more likely to help.

Consider a polite email or offering a discount on their next purchase. Another easy way to boost those review numbers is to provide entry to a competition to win a prize.

Local SEO tips for businesses without an address

 Understand your business model

If you understand the strategies you need to benefit from local SEO without a physical address, you can target local customers and improve your visibility in local search results.

Focus on NAP consistency

NAP refers to the accuracy of your business name, address, and phone number across all business listings and platforms. Consistency is crucial, as it helps build trust with search engines and consumers.

From your homepage URL and Facebook page to directory listings and review platforms, there should be complete uniformity in your business data. You can manually assess your NAP consistency by hunting down your citations and studying each in turn. Alternatively, use an automated tool to reduce the risk of citation inconsistencies.

Leverage social media

To generate a Facebook business page, you can use your personal account or create a new one with your work email address. Like your GBP, a Facebook business page offers free advertising and the opportunity to reach a wealth of customers with new products, marketing campaigns, and business updates.

You can enter your physical location (if you have one), but it’s not mandatory. Don’t forget to enhance your online presence and engage your audience further by adding social media links to your GBP.

Utilise local keywords

Optimising your GBP and website with local keywords will help you surface for the correct queries. Use natural language to avoid spammy, unhelpful content and localise it for the areas your business covers. For example, “emergency plumbing services in Manchester” or “private maths tuition in Cambridge”. Google can then connect your business to related searches and rank you higher.

Create local content

Local content that targets the immediate community and beyond is another effective method for elevating your SEO performance. This helps raise awareness of your brand and build authority, driving sales. Try give a local angle to your content. For example, pest control companies can name the most common pests they encounter in a specific region.

Think about what makes compelling content — that doesn’t just mean blogs. Does your company have a fascinating history? How about some case studies to demonstrate your industry expertise or a review of an event you recently held?

Final thoughts

Just because your business doesn’t have physical premises doesn’t mean it can’t open doors to improve its local SEO performance. You can still get your business in front of the people searching for your services, but information must be consistent across all your online platforms.

This includes all your GBPs. If you’re a business without a physical address but runs operations in multiple areas across the UK, you need to keep all your GBPs updated. Mirador Local can help turn this typically arduous process into the simplest of tasks.

Book a demo to find out more.