Google is fine with every physical location having a listing. So, if you have two locations in a city or 100 locations in a city, you can have a listing for each. The key is ensuring that whatever page you point searchers to on your site gives a unique experience with the content you provide. Talk about directions to the location, points of interest next to each location, and reviews for the specific location. I run across results like this often (Jack In The Box ranks twice):
I would say no, in most cases. It completely depends on your business model and industry and the currently level of competition. Google just launched Adwords Express+ and this will drive everyone’s cost even higher over time in local ads. So, if you have a solid organic strategy in place compared to churn and burn, I think your organic side exponentially grows where as the only way to grow PPC is to spend more.
The key is to stop looking at rankings as the purpose of your SEO work and just expect it as an outcome of good outreach. If you do a guest post, it’s not just a link; it could be reaching a community of potential customers that aren’t searching for you yet, but will become a brand search later. Referral traffic goes up, you get some great links, and the outcome is better long-term rankings. But the point was to reach the audience on the site and the link is just a bonus. When done properly in a local market, this approach will be the trump card.
Additionally, I think that most businesses can benefit greatly by doing both organic local search and PPC. The key here is to setup your tracking and analytics properly, in order to determine what your cost per lead and cost per sale is. The better you understand your numbers as a business owner the more advanced you can get with your online marketing.
The short answer is no. I hate this about Google Maps, actually. When you’re a service business, I don’t see the importance of your location compared to the location you service. But, for the time being, the best advice I can give is if it means that much to your business, get a legitimate address in the city service area. Pay rent on a building you can meet clients at and answer the phone at. Then you are on Google’s nice list. It’s not fun being on the naughty side.
This is just my opinion, I think each word in a query carries a certain weight based off positioning, regional vs global data, or a bazillion other factors that Google could take into account. A website would have a different relevance score for all three of the examples you showed above. Maybe one site is well optimised for Sydney and partly optimised for handyman. They rank better on “Sydney handyman” than “Handyman Sydney” because the weight is on the first word searched. If just “handyman” is typed, Sydney wasn’t in the search query, and Google determines there is local intent, then they might use a precise location of the search compared to the exact centre of Sydney. This would change the results yet again.
It doesn’t. Mainly because, if done properly, you would have pages that represent your national search ranking ambitions and you would have completely different pages for local stores. Take Walmart for instance. They need to rank with local store information, but also want to be able to show up for product or category searches for eCommerce. They have a location finder that leads to individual pages that provide store hours, local coupons, and directions. Here is a local Walmart page.
The thing that they do well (and I see this is a future must) is being able to show your local store inventory while browsing products. I have worked with brands that have a decentralised approach to local. The eCommerce team does everything they can to ensure that no one goes to the location to buy anything because they are rewarded for eCommerce sales, not store sales.
This is not what I would call “Customer Centric”. You shouldn’t care if a customer buys something online or in a store front as long as the item is purchased. Give customers the choice, and you will always win. This is also the best way to compete against Amazon and other major players, in my opinion. They can’t (yet) get me an item within an hour of my decision to purchase it, but a local store potentially could.