Google My Business listings are an essential part of the digital marketing strategy for a local business. By creating a profile for Google My Business, a company increases its visibility on Google Search, Google Maps, and other services from the search giant. However, a report earlier this year suggested that listings on Google My Business were frequently inaccurate. Last week, Google announced a change to the way Google My Business profiles describe the service area of a company. 

One of the key issues in the report about inaccurate Google My Business profiles was the misuse of the service area feature. To ensure their business showed up in as many searches as possible, some companies greatly exaggerated their service area. This trick may not seem like a big deal, but it's frustrating to consumers who waste time looking at businesses that won't be able to help. 

To cut back on misrepresentation on the platform, Google is removing the remaining distance-based service areas from Google My Business. Companies will no longer be able to say their services cover a certain radius around an area. Service-area businesses that currently based their service area by distance will have their profile changed automatically and converted to the closest named areas.

As the company explained in an announcement on Google My Business Help, "Service-area businesses currently based on a distance will be automatically converted to the closest named areas, like San Francisco or Islington, London. Business owners will be able to review these updates in their Google My Business account under Google updates and can either accept or provide a new service area. They'll also receive an email notification about the change." 

Business owners will need to consider the location they choose for their service area carefully. Owners must pick a place that people are likely to use in search when they're trying to find local service providers. In the example above, getting your business to show San Francisco helps more than having the service area listed as a small suburb. 

Removing distance-based service areas can have a profound effect on the way people search for local service providers. The change won't affect the way a company's Google My Business profile will look, but it could change the number of situations where the listing appears in the search results. 

Another benefit of this change is that Google is making Google My Business more accommodating for companies that provide service outside of a set distance from where they're physically located. Similarly, the change helps businesses that do not serve customers at their physical location. By addressing these issues, Google removes some of the problems that led to inaccurate Google My Business profiles. 

Since the change is happening automatically, there's not much for marketers to do but to check the listing to make sure the automatic change was accurate. Google My Business profile managers affected by this change will have the chance to review these updates after logging into their account.

For more recent news about changes and updates to Google services, read this article on new features for hotel profiles on Google My Business.