I officially went from freelancer to LLC at the start of 2019. Most of my business was coming from referrals and my partnership with Em-Media in Steubenville. I wasn’t itching to get my name out there and start getting my own leads – I wanted to have a solid gameplan.

Do I want people to know where I live?

I’m not a very private person. I will post photos, write blogs, record videos, and share opinions online. At one time, I had an open-door policy for social media (I would accept all invites). I have nothing to hide so I hide nothing. The way I operate my business (and life) is simple…

  1. Avoid spending money unless it’s a NEED.
  2. Always factor cost/time ratio.

The reason I can compete against the big boys in the marketing world is that I trim the fat. I don’t have an extravagant office in downtown Wheeling. If you call me, I answer (not a receptionist). All blogs and social content are created by Eric Hersey. When you write a check for a job, you are not paying for everyone’s salary – just one. When we need to scale, I hire trusted freelance partners.

Because I work from my house, I had a few decisions to make.

  • Let everyone know my address on my business listings (Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Apple Maps, etc…)
  • Create a Service Area Business profile

Benefits of Having a Physical Location in Local SEO

A lot of time and effort went into researching the topic – “should I have a physical location”. The goal is to show up for local search results in the most prominent location. Wheeling is that location. If I had an office in Wheeling (where most of the searches are coming from), I would have a better chance of being visible. But the cost of having a physical location would be a bit much. Could I get a return on my investment? Probably not.

Service Area Business on Map
GMB lets you select different cities you service and you get a pretty little outline. Sorry, New Martinsville, you are outside my area (I will still make your website though).

Having a service area business means you won’t get that preferential treatment. Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) won’t be listed all over the internet. Someone searching “local web designer wheeling wv” provides the offices in Wheeling. Not my business – that has 80% of my customers in Wheeling.

There is no doubt that getting that monthly rent invoice could help rank.

The Premise of Search Talk Live

My focus on Local SEO continues and I stumbled across several great podcasts by Search Talk Live. Each week hosts Robert O’Haver and Matt Weber interview an expert in digital marketing. Just so happened that they were focusing on Local SEO about the same time I started focusing on this important topic.

Our mission, education. After years of experience with all facets of digital marketing we have continued to witness individuals who try to cheat the system, practice bad SEO tactics for quick results, and those who misinform their audience. The worst part, they get off scot-free while you’re left with penalties, drops in rankings and other messes to clean up. We want it to stop!


This was a podcast that I found myself listening to each week and really taking away great information. I was walking laps about Centre Market in Wheeling (kids were at piano practice), I listened to their interview with Joy Hawkins (founder of Sterling Sky). She helped answer my question about creating a service area business listing in GMB.

Joy and the hosts covered a lot of interesting topics, including:

  • Schema markup for third party reviews
  • Review Gate
  • Importance or lack thereof for Citations
  • GMB insights

Why Did I Pick a Podcast about Service Area Business?

It’s pretty clear by now that I had to get an answer – should I get a physical location? They covered the topic pretty extensively.

Yes, there are benefits of having a physical location. There are several ways you can try and legally gain access to a location address for your GMB. You can also get caught and shut down if you are not working within the guidelines.

I decided to stick with my service area business. I will work my butt off to get the ranking in Wheeling, Steubenville, and Weirton. My brand might have a slight handicap, but the cream always rises.

The Podcast: Local Search with Sterling Sky, Founder Joy Hawkins

Listen to the full interview or subscribe to learn more about SEO, SEM, and digital marketing.