Your Google Business Profile and your website are the two key tools you have for marketing online. But it’s easy to come unstuck when you have multiple practitioners at the same location, or if you’re one practitioner who works in several different locations. Fear not, here is the definitive guide to setting up your Google Business Profile and website for multiple locations or practitioners
What is a Google Business Profile?
A Google Business Profile (GMB) – formerly known as Google My Business – is a free listing you can set up on Google. When you search for a local business Google Business Profiles show up on a map, and you can click through to those businesses to find out more about them.
Your GBP is the most important tool you have for marketing online – yes, even more important than your website. You can set it up completely free, and if you get stuck drop me a line and I’ll help you.
You are one practitioner operating at one location only
First of all let’s say you are an independent practitioner operating at one location. Maybe your home, maybe a room you hire. This is simple. Create a Google Business Profile for the address you operate from, and put that address on your website as well.
If you move in the future, you can simply update your address on your Google Business Profile. Your reviews, photos and so on will remain the same, and just the address will change.
You are one practitioner working at more than one location
So now let’s say you are still an independent practitioner, but you work at different locations on different days of the week. Maybe you work from home on Monday, rent a room on Tuesday and rent a room somewhere else on Wednesday.
Google Business Profile
Now you have to create a separate Google Business Profile for each of the locations that you work at. When your clients leave you a review they will leave you a review at the location they typically see you at, meaning your reviews will be spread across all of your locations.
Hang on, you say, that’s not fair. If I have 10 reviews they are all for me and they should all show when someone searches for me. I don’t want to have 4 here, 6 there and none somewhere else. I agree, it’s not fair, but that’s how Google Business Profile works. No-one said the system was perfect.
You could just have one GBP and ask everyone to review you there, but that means you’ll never show up to someone searching for one of the other locations, which kind of defeats the object. It’s better to have a GBP for every location you work from.
The good news is that if in future you stop working at one of your locations or set up your own practice, you can ask Google to transfer the reviews to one of your other locations, or amalgamate the lot. Note you’ll have to completely close down the old listing to move your reviews to another profile.
You thought that was complicated enough, right? Well what about your website? Do you have a separate page on your website for each location, or do you point all your GBPs to the same page, which mentions all locations?
The answer is… it depends, but normally you would link all your GBPs to your homepage.
Your homepage will generally be the page with the most authority on your website, so it makes most sense to link to that where it’s practical to do so. Whether you choose to have one contact page with maps and details of all your locations, or a separate page for each, is up to you.
Not linking to your homepage is generally for larger businesses. Let’s imagine you’re a PureGym. There are hundreds of PureGyms all over the country, so linking the GBP to the PureGym homepage isn’t much use for the customer. However, having a separate page for each location means the customer can click through to that location and see opening hours, what equipment they have, who the personal trainers are and so on, which is much more useful.
You work at one location with other practitioners
So what if you work at one location and there are other practitioners who work there as well? Do you have a website and business profile for each practitioner, or for the location?
The answer depends on the arrangement you have with the location and other practitioners and to what extent you work independently. You may be an independent practitioner renting a treatment room and managing your own diary and advertising, or you may be working as part of another practice, who manage booking, reception, advertising and so on.
Note you may also be working at other locations too, and you might have a mixture of independent working and working for another practice.
In the case that you are independent, you will have your own website listing this and any other locations you work at, and your own Google Business Profile for this location with reviews that are only of you.
The benefit of this is that your reviews are owned by you and you can transfer them to another location if you decide to move in the future, as mentioned in the last section.
You’re also independent in terms of managing your own website, which you might consider a benefit or you might not.
The downside from an SEO perspective of having several different independent practitioners at the same location comes when you are all from the same discipline. If you are an osteopath, a phsyio, a chiropractor and a massage therapist, then you benefit from all having your own Google Business Profile at the same location because you are targeting every single one of those searches (osteo, physio, chiro, massage) specifically. However, if you are all osteopaths, then when someone googles ‘osteopath’, only one of you can come top of the search. Only 3 of you can appear on the map that Google returns with the search results, meaning someone won’t get a look in at all. On the other hand if you’re all part of the same osteopathy practice, it’s likely the practice itself will top the search results, and book patients with whoever is available at the time the patient requests.
Working for a clinic
The alternative is when several practitioners are working under one “business”. Typically this brand belongs to one of the practitioners and the others are working “for” them in some way or another. The practice has its own website listing the practitioners who are available, and will handle bookings, complaints and so on centrally.
In this case it is the clinic who has a Google Business Profile and patients will leave reviews for the clinic, regardless of who their individual practitioner was. In SEO terms this is a disadvantage when the practitioners do different things because the GBP can only list one primary category – say “physical therapy clinic” rather than having a listing for each discipline. If the practitioners all do the same thing, it’s an SEO advantage as explained above.
Because patients are leaving reviews for the clinic rather than the clinician, this is a disadvantage for the individual practitioners. If 10 patients leave reviews for you on the clinic’s business profile and then you leave, there is no way you can take those reviews with you, the same as when an employee leaves any other business.
More than one practitioner working at more than one location
Generally here we’re talking about the clinic model above. Let’s say that Olly’s Osteopathy has 3 branches and employs different osteopaths at each branch. They will have one website with all practitioners and locations, and a separate Google Business Profile for each of the locations with reviews for that location only. Reviews belong to the clinic, not the individual practitioner, and in theory can be amalgamated if one practice was to close.
A complex example
It’s often that we have a mixture of these setups. Let’s say Sally works from home on Monday, rents a treatment room in a yoga centre Tuesday and Wednesday, and works at Olly’s Osteopathy on Thursday.
Sally will have her own website where she will say when she is available and to book directly with her for mon/tue/wed appointments, and a link to Olly’s Osteopathy website to book her on Thursdays. Alternatively she might prefer to promote her independent practice, and leave Olly’s Osteopathy off her own website entirely.
She’ll have her own Google Business Profiles for her home location and for her yoga centre practice where patients can leave reviews for her alone. If she eventually moves her yoga centre practice to her home she can amalgamate the reviews from the two. Olly’s Osteopathy will have its own Google Business Profile, and if patients leave reviews there they will belong to Olly’s Osteopathy and not to Sally, even if the review is about Sally.
The way Google Business Profile works isn’t always obvious when we’re working at several locations. It’s especially an unfair setup for practitioners working at various locations that they can’t share their reviews between the locations, but that’s the way it is. Nonetheless it’s the best tool we have for internet promotion, and it’s free!
I hope this guide has been useful. If you have any questions or need help setting up your Google Business Profile, or if you’d like a Free Web Review, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!