Last week I talked about claiming your local listings so that you can market your personal trainer business to people who are close enough to use it. However, my advice only allowed you to target a single city: the city where you maintain your legal business address.
If your clients come to you or if you only work in a single city, this blog post is not for you.
But what if you are an in-home personal trainer in a large metro area? Chances are you travel into suburb cities and townships that are close to your home city. You will want to capture some of that business as well.
But you have to be very careful how you do this. It’s easy to make a mistake and run afoul of Google’s guidelines.
Go back to your Google Local profile and return to your listing. You’ll need to open up the editing page again and look for the option to hide your address.
If customers come to you then your address needs to be on your page. If you go to customers, however, you must hide your address to take full advantage of your service area. Don’t worry. You’re not hurting yourself by following this guideline.
Once you hide your address Google will give you the option to designate your service area.
You can, if you wish, list out each little suburb or zipcode that you’re willing to travel to one by one. But that’s not very time-effective, and you could potentially forget a town that you’re more than willing to serve.
Besides, Google sort of displays that data in a very odd way. It still displays a pin to mark your “home base” or your primary office. But when you start listing zip codes it’s been known to stick pins at the bottom of rivers or in similarly strange locations.
This could lead customers to believe that you are trying to hide something or are somehow less than legitimate. That’s not really the impression you want to give.
It’s more effective to simply choose the “distance from” option. Choose your “home base” location and then tell Google that you’ll travel 10, 15, 20, or however many miles away from that location that you are actually willing to travel.
It’s tempting to get over-enthusiastic here and to tell Google that you’re willing to travel 100 miles to get to your client if that’s what it takes. While that’s admirable, I encourage you to really do a cost-benefits analysis on how far you’re willing to go.
If you’re spending more on gas then you are making on the appointment then you’re not really growing your business in a very efficient manner.
Another option would be to just list the cities and the states that you serve while stripping out the zipcode. Usually this puts the pin in the center of your major metro area, which can be very beneficial to your efforts to capture local customers.
Every local site is a little bit different. Most of them do not require you to hide your address even if you travel to customers. Many of them do not give you the option to declare a service area, either.
If they do, make sure you are following their unique and specific guidelines to place your service area in a way that’s acceptable to them.
You won’t hurt yourself in Google Places if you don’t hide your address on these other sites. In fact, trying to do so can actually hurt you since it will drop your number of overall citations. In fact, Google is probably the touchiest of all of the local portals when it comes to setting up your service area.
It is possible that you will take the time to do all of this and yet will still fail to rank in Google Local (and on other portals) for every city that you serve.
That’s really not a very big deal. Local listings are only one arm of your overall marketing effort. You want to give yourself a chance at ranking in that suburb 15 miles away if you go there, but if you don’t it’s not something that you need to continue to worry about.
You certainly don’t want to start violating Google’s guidelines in an attempt to “trick it” into ranking you there. If you do this (and many desperate business owners of all kinds try) you’ll just end up hurting yourself in the long run.
You have many other options for capturing that business. For example, if you’re following my advice on your blog posts then you’ll still have a chance to capture organic rankings for the “town, personal trainer” keyword. And though we haven’t talked about it yet, you can capture some of this traffic on social media sites as well.
In fact, obsessing over rankings is never the best use of your time. Do the best that you can do while following Google’s best practices, and then move on to things you can control, things that actively help you build your business.