A question commonly asked about local Google My Business (GMB) is the area of how to deal with practitioner listings. Are they allowed? Can I have two listings for the same place, and will it hurt my local rankings?
So to clear up any confusion, I have decided to put this post up to explain exactly how to deal with the various types of Google Listings. We will start with the basics. If you are unsure of some of the more general guidelines on how to setup a listing, here is the Google Help file on that issue. Otherwise, keep on reading….
What is a Practitioner Listing?
A practitioner listing is a listing on Google that is for a person instead of the name of a business. An easy example to explain would be those listings of health practitioners such as dentists and doctors.
A dentist owning a dental office would technically be able to have two listings, one under the business name, and for himself/herself.
Other industries where this happens frequently are law firms, financial planner offices, and real estate agents. Basically anywhere where multiple professionals are working together in the same place.
Google’s Rules About Practitioner Listings
- Practitioner listings are not considered to be duplicates and Google will not remove them or merge them together.
- A review made on a practitioner listing will not automatically show up on the corresponding business listing. They are considered separate, and most likely stay that way.
- If there is only one practitioner in an office, then Google specifies that only one listing should be created and that it should have this format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name] For example: Cool Dental Office: Dr. Cool McCool.
If There Are Already Two Listings – Should You Ask Google To Merge Them?
This might vary depending on a few factors.
Smaller Town – Keep Both
For example, if you are in a smaller market it might be advisable to keep the two listings as separate. It shouldn’t be difficult to get at least one of the listings in the top three pack.
That way you have a chance of showing both of your listings near the top. This is especially true if both listings have good ratings and reviews associated with them.
Larger City – Focus on One
However, if you are in a larger city or more competitive market where there are many businesses of your type nearby, then having two separate listings might not be the best idea.
Reviews might get split between the two listings from your customers, and so neither one of them will have sufficient ‘juice’ to get into the top three pack.
It’s best in this case to ask Google to merge them together to get one powerful listing instead of two weaker ones.
Running A Practice With More Than One Practitioner
In the case of an owner where multiple professionals are in the office, the best way to deal with Google listings can get complicated.
Why Multiple Practitioner Listings May Not Be In Your Best Interest
But in general, it’s best to try to focus all the reviews and ratings on the main business listing, and not on the practitioner listings.
For one, you wind up with the situation described above, where you have many weaker listings instead of one strong listing. This might be detrimental to the overall visibility of the main office.
Secondly, individual practitioner listings are not bound to the business listing. The individual practitioner, according to Google, is the owner, not the business.
Even if the owner initially paid to have the SEO work to create and verify the listing in the first place for example, the practitioner can leave the office and take the listing, along with all the reviews associated with it to another place of employment.
Of course, if you are on the opposite side and you are a practitioner working in someone else’s office, then it might be in your best interest to encourage your clients to leave reviews on your verified listing, and not on the main business listing where you work at, in case you decide to leave.
Why It Might Be A Good Idea To Have Multiple Practitioner Listings
If the main business has many practitioners that specialize in different aspects of the business, then it could be a good idea to strengthen each individual listing, to help the company’s visibility for various search terms.
For example, a law firm might have someone specializing in criminal law and someone else who specializes in family law. The reviews left on these listings would more than likely have these keywords mentioned a few times and so would help those listings rank for those more specific searches.
Differentiating the main focus keywords of the listings will help the overall company be seen in more types of searches. However this might come at the expense of losing visibility on the main keyword.
For example, targeting niches like ‘criminal law’ and ‘family law’, with your practitioner Google listings and reviews might see more traffic to those listings, but the main business listing presumable under the basic ‘lawyer’ category would probably be less visible.
When The Practitioner Listing Outranks the Practice Listing
Hopefully in this case it is the owner’s practitioner listing that is up front, and not an employees.
Owner’s Listing Outranks Business
If the owner’s individual listing is outranking the business’, then this situation is not necessarily a problem. Just boost the profile that is already in the lead.
However, you can always ask Google to merge the listings if you feel this is warranted for your overall marketing strategy.
Employee’s Individual Listing Outranks Business
If the practitioner’s listing that is outranking the main business listing is one that can leave the business, then evaluation of the ranking situation is needed.
If neither GMB listing is ranking in the top three pack for any of the target keywords, but a situation where the practitioner’s listing is #6 and the businesses’ is at spot #9, then it is probably best to work on the business listing to rank better.
It is also possible to reduce the rank of the practitioner listing by removing information from the description and deselecting categories from the profile.
However be careful here, as again, Google says that it is the individual who owns the practitioner listing, so you would need permission to make these changes.
If the practitioner’s listing is ranked in the three pack already and is generating leads for the company, then reducing the visibility of that position would be detrimental to the business.
Google will almost never show two listings from the same address anymore in the three pack at the same time (unless in a very small market), so it is best to leave the high ranking listing alone and just try to boost the lower one.
Many times what happens is that Google will alternate the listing it shows if there are more than one located at the same address. When you see this happening between a practitioner and a business listing, then you can start to reduce the visibility of the practitioner listing (using the ideas above) so that only the business listing gets presented.
Practitioner Listings – Sometimes Confusing
Obviously there are many scenarios concerning practitioner listings, so it is important to do a full audit of the situation before any major changes are done to ensure the visibility of the overall business.
If you have any questions regarding your own practitioner listing, or that of listings within your business, don’t hesitate to leave a question in the comment area or give me a call. I will be glad to help you clear up any confusion that you might have.