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Service Area Business Position Recovery after Valentines SERP Massacre

If you are or have a service area business and have not recovered from the local valentines algo massacre, you might want to take a look at your service areas selected.

**Note: This business has been in position 1 and 2 consistently over the past two years, it has not been a recent increase. This business has quite a unique service area selection because of its location, so this will probably not be applicable to a SAB that is slap bang in a single service area.


Local Valentines SERP Massacre

This was quite a wild algo update with Google being pretty nonchalant with their usual “we make updates all the time” as per ususal.


Local SERP Valentines Massacre SEMrush Volatility - Online Ownership

I was not to perturbed as there is always flux “No Flux Given” and all my sites typically recover after things have quietened down, however one service area business did not. I became increasing concerned and we had to turn on Ads after they started dropping further and further.

What the heck was going on ?


Service Areas

This business used to have it service area set at 25 miles and after Google My Business removed radius settings, four service areas had to be selected to cover the same service area radius.

Service Areas for Service Area Business Selected - Online Ownership

The main area service area for this business is Chester and too cover the same service area as before, the business had to use:

  • Chester
  • Cheshire – gold
  • Cheshire West and Chester – purple
  • Flintshire – blue


All has been fine for the past 12 months with these settings, that is this valentines massacre.

**Note: You should never make any changes until fluctuations are over and returned to some level of normality.


What the Flux?

What I started to notice is that local search results west of Chester were normal, however positions in Chester + North & East had completely disappeared.

My immediate thought was the businesses hidden address being in Saltney, a suburb of Chester – was Google somehow using online signals to change positions rather then use the defined service areas.

Checking other SAB competitors, this did not seem to be the case.

So why where positions in the West unaffected – what was pushing this ?


Positions Affected in Service Areas for Business - Online Ownership


As I **Noted above, don’t make knee jerk reactions and if you want to see what has an impact, especially with service areas, you should change – assess, change – assess.

Removal of Service Area

Not looking like some weird change to using hidden address, it had to be Flintshire being used as a service area ?

After removing this as a service area, positions started coming back over the past 12 hours.

Local Business Positions Returning - Online Ownership

**Note: There are still some strange results, but they are back in the local pack again and the phone is ringing again.

Unanswered Questions

Why was Flintshire all of a sudden taking precedence?

Has google somehow started to take hidden location into account with Saltney being on the cusp of it, theby giving it more weight?

Was this really the issue / change that occurred?

Was this just a band aid – I’ll continue to monitor and update.