Yelp jumps ahead of Google using service areas as ranking factors

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Nearly a year ago Google added the ability to set a service area for local businesses in Google Places. At the time there was speculation as to how it might influence rankings and many local SEO’s quickly realized it didn’t have as much influence as promoted. Except that if you opted to hide your address, because you were a home based business, it more or less kicked you right out of the rankings all together. That unfortunate side effect of hiding an address has been fixed since the roll out of the new blended organic-local results. But there still is no strong ranking benefits outside of the actual city your address is tied to.

Service Area settings in Yelp

Will Google one day get around to using service areas as a ranking factor for businesses serving say, a larger metropolitan area from one of the outskirt communities (a common occurrence)? Well it appears Yelp has recently done just that.

…business owners in service-based categories who have unlocked their Yelp page will be able to add up to 5 major cities to their areas of service via our Business Owner Tools!

The best part? Once a business updates its areas of service, it becomes searchable in those cities on Yelp.

This feature has been added only for specific categories of businesses, these that tend to be service based businesses that travel to customers locations.

Now that Yelp has upped the ante, how long till Google follows suit?