How To Do Local SEO for Businesses Without Physical Locations in 2021

When it comes to digital marketing, a good SEO has been essential for any type of business for years. And brick and mortar businesses, in particular, are reigning supremacy within the local SEO. However, not all locally aligned businesses belong to the same group. There are numerous business models without physical locations, whose situation is a bit challenging, marketing-wise. If you are wondering how to do local SEO for businesses without physical locations in 2021, you’ll have to take a different approach. Deciding which direction to take will mostly depend on how the business you manage runs.

Managing your local SEO for businesses without physical locations

You can often see that typical brick-and-mortar businesses don’t have much trouble with local listings. For example, Google My Business. They can easily submit their listings with NAP* information, or have experts do the listings for them, and enjoy watching their reputations grow. Of course, if their service is right. But, the reality is more complex for those that don’t have a physical location. However, that shouldn’t stop them from learning how to maximize their online presence, dominate their niche, and increase their sales. Especially after 2020, when everyone is placing their focus on remote supporting circumstances.

*Name, address, and phone number of a business.

But, before we dive deeper into local SEO for businesses without a physical location, let’s see which group your business belongs to.

Recognize your business model

By recognizing your business model you will be able to take advantage of the proper marketing possibilities. Depending on how your business operates, you will be able to evaluate the right way to set up your local business listing. There are a few diverse categories your business might belong to:

  • Home-based business
  • Service Area Business (SAB)
  • Virtual business
  • Combined business
Money exchange over the smartphone on one of the financial platforms.
Various financial platforms are typical virtual businesses.

Home-based businesses

This is the type of business where your home address is the address of your business. As long as you are meeting your clients in person, you belong to this category. Whether it’s going to your client’s place or receiving them at yours. The point is that your main base of operation is your home and you meet with customers.

Service Area Business or SAB

Basically, this is the type of business where you don’t have to have a physical address, but you serve your customers in a specific area. In most cases, that will be the local area. Another important condition is that you meet your clients at their location.

Virtual businesses

Another type of business, specific because everything is complete virtually. The most common example would be e-commerce. You do everything without ever meeting your clients. And you can, but it doesn’t require you to, have one or several locations with addresses.

Combined businesses

This category is for businesses that you can’t easily fit into any of the previous categories. Or, you can partially fit them in each. For example, an online shop that sells pet food, but also offers in-house veterinarian services. In essence, local SEO for these combined businesses should be focused on its brick-and-mortar part. If there are no touching points with the brick-and-mortar principle, then you can probably fit them into one of the previous categories.

Local SEO for home-based businesses

The address plays a great role in home-based businesses. Typically, most owners want to keep their addresses private. They don’t want to mix personal with professional life. And, normally, don’t want unnecessary prying eyes. Basically, if they are providing services at clients’ locations, they don’t necessarily have to reveal their personal addresses. Creating a website and building citations that provide information about their services is usually enough. And GMB listings, for example, are allowing them to hide their address after registration.

A man working in his home office.
There is a great focus on remote work at the start of 2021.

However, there are situations when they might choose to reveal their address. For example, if they are receiving their clients at home-office, the address will help potential clients to find them. Also, SEO-wise, it can improve the trust of local consumers to have a confirmation they are local.

In addition, potentially confusing factors are the latest health circumstances from 2020. The situation is causing many people to relocate their offices to their homes. This creates plenty of unclear situations about how to update your business profiles. Fortunately, most things will be clarified in 2021 by Google and other search engines, so there is not much to worry about.

Local SEO for SAB

By definition, Service Area Businesses need to have in-person contact with their clients. That’s the condition to be eligible for GMB. For this, you will need to provide some address, whether it is your home address or private facility address. Or a zip code or city to define the area of your service. Again, after registration, you will have the option to hide this address and leave only the service region. Worth notice is that if you are serving multiple locations it’s a recommendation to have a separate phone number for each.

When it comes to SEO, one of the best options is to also have separate web pages for each location you serve. In the best case, something unique that distinguishes each service apart. Ultimately, to improve your marketing results you can also include paid ads in areas you are covering.

Looking to place a pin on a map.
You will have to clearly define the zone of operations for your SAB.

Local SEO for virtual businesses

Virtual businesses basically never serve customers face-to-face. If you take a typical e-commerce company, they serve their customers without any type of physical storefronts. They may have headquarters, which helps them qualify for GMB listings, but they are usually off-limit for the public. For them, the best way to approach a local SEO is by providing plenty of quality content on their websites. And to work on building a healthy link profile. Including updating the information on their listings through events and posts. If you are a smaller virtual business, a good way to compete with other large businesses is to focus on long-tail keywords throughout the content.

Even though it can be harder to optimize without a specific location and address, things are looking promising in 2021. Clearly, some confusing areas will be redefined to make things easier for everyone. And search engines, including Google, are working hard to bring new updates and guidelines that will be relevant to these changes. The new updates will reflect on current reality and the local SEO for businesses without physical locations in 2021 already looks promising. 

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