Cori Shirk

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All right. I've been searching up and down for data on this and I can't find anything. Also, I apologize if this topic has been covered somewhere else in a thread- I couldn't find anything specifically related to this on here either.

This is similar to practice/practitioner struggles but slightly different.

Does anyone have any data that supports Google's "preference" and "best practice" that brands that share a physical address should be listed separately on GMB?

I've got a client, primarily known for their gas stations, who wants to split their convenience store brand from their gas station brand for branding / marketing purposes. We're wondering if they're going to shoot themselves in the foot from a local SEO perspective by doing so.

Right now, all of their locations are listed under one brand name (we'll call it "Established Gas Brand") with categories specifying each location's features (Gas Station is primary, secondary categories include Convenience Store, Car Wash, Auto Repair, Fast Food, etc). BUT, technically each feature is a standalone brand, so now they want to create one listing for "Established Gas Brand" as a gas station at 123 ABC St; one for "Lesser Known C-Store" as a convenience store at 123 ABC St, "Lesser Known Car Wash" as a car wash at 123 ABC St, etc. In this scenario, none of the categories would overlap. It's a 1:1 relationship between brand and category.

One side of this argument says "this situation is specifically called out in the GMB Guidelines so we should split them up," the other side says "why the heck would we manage 8x more listings than we need to to get the same data out there?"

Our concern is that data in the ecosystem already ties all of the categories to one brand name - "Established Gas Brand". And FWIW, people primarily search for the gas station brand, though long-term the plan is to build brand awareness for their other brands as well.

I'm a big believer that "because Google says it's okay" should never be cited as substantive evidence in an argument, so I'm in search of some data backing up both sides. Can anyone help me out?
 

Cori Shirk

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Sometimes, but not always. Probably a 40/60 split between instances where they have unique phone numbers and where they don't.
 

DanLeibson

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Never listen to anything Google says unless you can verify it (this also includes things they say you shouldn't do). ;)

If you can get multiple listings for a business you should. We work with several national to local brands that we have worked strategies with to increase their number of listings and it has worked wonders for their traffic from local search, calls, driving direction you name it. It greatly expands the number of terms they are targeting and I have yet to see a negative impact of this strategy for a campaign (not saying that it can't happen, but if you do your do diligence the risk is greatly reduced). If you can get them to increase their local landing pages to include a sub-page for the convenience store that would be even better because you can go after those terms in a targeted fashion with both local organic and traditional local search.

My major piece of advice around this is doing a small scale test first. It lets you asses any operational or strategic problems for the brand before rolling it out nationally and gives you the ability to bail on it if it's not making sense.
 

DanLeibson

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Sometimes, but not always. Probably a 40/60 split between instances where they have unique phone numbers and where they don't.

I'm sure they can spin up new phone numbers pretty easily though.
 

Cori Shirk

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Thanks Dan, testing is the plan :) Good to hear that you've seen success from breaking up the business into multiple listings.

Out of curiosity - did those businesses already have an established presence, or were you setting them up from scratch? Part of what's giving us pause is that this brand already has a decent presence for some of their secondary category keywords (like convenience store). We don't want to hurt them by divorcing the two brands.

That being said - short term suffering is worth long term benefit so we'll see what happens with this first pilot.

Joy - do you think the lack of a different phone number is a deal breaker for this approach? I've worked on a similar setup for a hospital network with multiple departments and they didn't have unique phone numbers but that was a while ago (2 years, probably). I'm not sure if / how much Google has turned up the dial on that being a factor.

Thank you both for weighing in!
 

DanLeibson

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Out of curiosity - did those businesses already have an established presence, or were you setting them up from scratch? Part of what's giving us pause is that this brand already has a decent presence for some of their secondary category keywords (like convenience store). We don't want to hurt them by divorcing the two brands.

I would say the one that was the most successful was breaking apart listings for one of the largest retail brands in the country.

Also, I wouldn't let the phone number thing be a deal breaker. You can just test both scenarios and if they see great gains from the unique phone number and losses from the duplicate phone number they will likely want to spend the minor cost to spin up new phone numbers. Although if I had to bet, I would bet it's a minor hiccup at worst.
 
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