It's very tough to rank in Google's local search results for place names where you are not physically located. Typically the strategy is to steps is to boost your traditional SEO presence, or to move your business location. Here are some steps that you can take to outrank the competition, as wel as some good descriptions of the problem.
- Create unique landing pages for each location
- Have the complete address and phone number for the location listed twice - once for humans, once for robots
- Use relevant internal links
- Get a new location closer to the centroid that Google Maps is using for your business
- Get inbound links from other locally and topically relevant sites
Generate positive reviews for each relevant location page
Google's take on local is that it is address-based. Thus, if you have an office in San Francisco, you can create a Google Place Page
and shoot for rankings in San Francisco, but not in neighboring
Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose etc. Google's picture of Local has proved
problematic for all go-to-client businesses (lawn care, tree removal,
nannies, chimney sweeps etc.) because there is a genuine bias towards
those businesses which at least operate out of their own storefront or
at least within their own town. Service area businesses receive less
specific solutions from Google Places.
[Creating additional content] is the strongest move you can make towards improved visibility for these secondary terms. After this, all
traditional off-page SEO tactics apply (linkbuilding, Social Media,
As you mention, it is very tough (if not impossible) to come up in
Google Places for a neighboring town. I know this for a fact because
I am currently working on SEO for a small business here in Texas with
about 10 neighboring cities. The best I have been able to do is get
them in top 10 SERP's organic results for neighboring towns. And Top
Google Place and Organic results for their actual town listed in
address when searched.
I have had some success by placing neighboring cities in title text and in page content while keeping content flow as natural as
possible. This did work for a few of the company's neighboring cities
in organic results.