Consistency, accuracy and clarity are the most important elements of a business’ online data. For practitioners like doctors and lawyers, local presence management can be trickier than it would be for typical local businesses – especially when multiple practitioners work at a single organization. However, both solo practitioners with a unique address and multiple practitioners who share one location face local presence concerns that are unique to practitioners.
To deal with these extra complications and ensure correct information is displayed in search results, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) has specific guidelines for solo practitioners and organizations with multiple practitioners at one location. Practitioners need to be wary of common issues that lead to inconsistent local citations, create bad data, and decrease online visibility for practitioners.
Some of the most common problems for practitioners include:
- Duplicate Google Business Profiles – Creating more than one listing for a single location violates Google Business Profile guidelines and can result in account suspension if not corrected.
- Complicated Google Business Profile Guidelines – Google Business Profiles have a unique set of guidelines for practitioners, which makes creating and maintaining these listings more complicated than other types of local businesses.
- Discrepancies in How Directories Handle Practitioners – Not all directories or search engines treat practitioners the same as organizations. It’s important to differentiate practitioners from their organizations to avoid confusing search engines and potential customers.
- Submitting Practitioners as Organizations – A common mistake is misrepresenting a practitioner as an organization when submitting information to data aggregators like Infogroup, Factual, Localeze and Foursquare. This seemingly minor error can quickly snowball into a much bigger problem because these websites are sources for local citations and directories. Inconsistent data can spread across the web and damage a practitioner’s reputation and ranking in search results.
Best Practices for Multiple Practitioners at One Location
Here are some tips to avoid or resolve the issues listed above for multiple practitioners who operate out of a single location:
- The organization should create a Google Business Profile for the location, separate from those of the individual practitioners.
- The title of each practitioner listing should only include the name of the practitioner (and not the name of the organization). For example, a doctor working at an address shared with other practitioners should write his or her listings as: Dr. X, MD. However, the doctor should not write his or her listing as: ARC Plastic Surgery: Dr X, MD.
- When submitting business details to data aggregators, submit each practitioner at the location as a separate professional and submit the organization as a business.
Best Practices for Solo Practitioners
Though solo practitioners face the same problems mentioned above, the solutions are slightly different. Here’s how a solo practitioner can maintain clean, consistent online data:
- Create a unique Google Business Profile for the practitioner. The business name can simply be the practitioner’s name and title or the practitioner’s name plus the name of the organization. For example, a doctor could choose between these two acceptable formats:
- Dr. X, MD
- ARC Plastic Surgery: Dr. X, MD
- Ensure the practitioner can be contacted directly at the listed phone number during the stated hours of operation. Always use a real physical address and maintain up-to-date contact information in the listing.
- When submitting business information to a website like Infogroup, do so as an individual professional and not as a business.
Still have questions? We can help! Advice Local works with practitioners to clean up bad data, build a consistent web presence, and increase visibility so local clients can easily connect. Click below to find out more!