More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Just participated in a good thread at the official Google forum. Good tips so wanted to share here as well.

The question was asked by owner of a Real Estate agency but the answers apply to Insurance Agencies with independent reps and even to Drs, Dentists, Lawyers.

<a href="!topic/business/rAvNVpJZWpg">Multiple Sales Associates using Google Places</a> - Official Google Thread

We are a real estate firm with a Google Places business location attached to our address/phone number. We have 40 sales associates who are independent contractors (individual business owners) working for there a way for them to use Google Places as agents at our location...maybe with our address and their cell numbers? If so, how? If not, is there any other solution for them? We want to insure that our office listing is not affected but would like for them to utilize Google Places as well. Your help is appreciated.

Mike Blumenthal ~ Top Contributor
They are eligibile for their own listing at your location. It most definitely should include a unique phone number and description content that is distinct from the main office. In the past Google has had some difficulty keeping these listings from merging but I think that going forward under Google+ Local that will be less of an issue

Flash AKA Gregg ~ MapMaker RER (Member Here)
It is hard to expect the bots and humans that check the map to keep them separate if they have basically the same name and the same address. My personal recommendation as of late has been to have the agents set their listing up with their name, but not the agency name. After all, the agency already gets a listing; these are what are called professional listings and are supposed to be for the agent only, so including the agency name does make it a duplicate of the agency.

Besides avoiding merging issues, having each have a totally unique name also has the following advantages:

When the agent moves on, retires, etc.; his professional listing will be marked "Permanently Closed". The listing will then not show up regularly, but will show up in specific searches. If it only has the agents name, it would only show up in a name search for him/her. If the name of the listing includes your agency name, then you can expect that listing to show up in a name search for the agency. Do you want something with your agency name and address showing as Permanently Closed in the future?

When people go to leave reviews for your agency, they will tend to just use the first listing with your agency name and address and leave it there. Make it so they only have one choice.

Along a similar vein, to prevent merges with your listing and so that people understand what each listing represents; agents should have the category of "Real Estate Agents" and your should have "Real Estate Agency"; and neither of you should add both.

Linda Buquet ~ Top Contributor
Great points all Gregg!

Being sure to only use the agent's name, always use indiv phone and not overlapping categories are all important tips for a few reasons. Not just to avoid hurting the main listings rankings, but also to help avoid merges and as Gregg mentioned, also makes the transition smoother if an agent leaves.

In a big blog post I wrote about minimizing Dr, Dentist, Atty individual listings so they don't hurt the main practice listings ranking, I also recommended having the professional's Place page link to their own bio page on the site or the meet the team page if all professionals are listed on same page. But point is - don't have the individual's professional listings link to the home page of the site. Only have the main listing link to the home page. I think that advice could also help with this agent listing scenario.

Here is a link to my thread with more detailed instructions for minimizing professional listings.
<a href="">Overcoming New Google Places Duplicate Listing Problems for Dentists, Doctors, Attorneys</a>

Anyone else have good tips or any questions about this issue?

So, you suggest:

1. Use a different webpage URLs for agents than what the main office listing uses.

- agent listings point to their individual profile pages on the company website or the 'meet the team' page
- the main office listing point to the home page (or perhaps the contact us page)

2. Use different categories for the agents than what the main office listing uses.

- Agent listing category: Real Estate Agent
- Main office listing category: Real Estate Agency

- - - - -

However, for Law Firms / Attorneys there seems to be no option to choose a general listing category for the law firm itself.

When searching for categories by typing 'attorney', or 'lawyer' (or 'law' as in 'law firm)... I see 20 categories which could be used for individual attorneys:

- attorney
- attorney referral service
- bankruptcy attorney
- criminal justice attorney
- district attorney
- divorce attorney
- elder law attorney
- employment attorney
- estate planning attorney
- family law attorney
- general practice attorney
- immigration attorney
- insurance attorney
- labor relations attorney
- patent attorney
- personal injury attorney
- real estate attorney
- social security attorney
- tax attorney
- trial attorney

I assume that we would use the generic 'attorney' category for the main office listing and not use the 'attorney' category in any of the individual attorney listings.

In the individual attorney listings we would use one of the more longer tail / specific practice area categories.

What do y'all think?


Hi Russ,

I'm no expert with Attys, I consult for a few but have not dealt with the multiple atty listings issue personally - BUT my thought would be do the categories just the opposite.

And I mentioned in my blog post too that G often assigns the main default cat like attorney, plumber, dentist, so sometimes that one is hard to change.

So I would think - let all the attorneys have the generic cat attorney, because that's what they all are.

And that single keyword is so competitive it would be hard to rank for anyway AND most consumers aren't going to search generically for atty, they will search for the specific type of atty they need.

Typically the main listing is the one you would want to rank for the more targeted practice area keywords like personal injury attorney, auto accident lawyer, etc. So I would think you'd want to optimize the main practice listing with those cats.

Yes? No?

Edited to add - different story if it's a large multi-specialty practice. Then if each atty had a diff specialty then you could target each atty on their practice area KWs.
I would hesitate to mess with all the listings like that... when I'm trying to resolve a conflict with just 2 out of a total of 9 listings.

Also, there are so many practice areas covered with all the attorneys combined, that they won't all fit in the 5 allowed categories in the Google Places editor.


Since there are more than 5 practice areas for the law firm as a whole, I would 'think' it would make sense to list the practice areas (categories) in the individual attorney listings.

Also, some attorneys practice in multiple areas, which would make it necessary to list (up to 5 of) those unique practice areas in their individual listing.

More thoughts?

I would hesitate to mess with all the listings like that... when I'm trying to resolve a conflict with just 2 out of a total of 9 listings.

Russ when you posted this thread you didn't mention the merge, how many attys and the naming convention so I didn't know the details that are in the other thread when I replied in this one. So my comments were generic in reply to what was in this thread. Now I know from the other thread there is more to it.

Bottom line is each situation is different and has to be analyzed individually. Depending on a WIDE variety of factors. If talking 9 attys, and all already claimed, 2 merged, multiple practice areas, it gets more complicated.

Sorry running out door, will check forum later tonight.
... I didn't know the details that are in the other thread when I replied in this one. So my comments were generic in reply ...

No problem, Linda, I was trying to be generic in nature in each separate post... just to understand each issue separately.
great tips...i have been assigning suite numbers to each professional and putting their name after the company name...i think in anticipation of the big google+local page etc merger i will follow these suggestions and see if i get better results. thanks!
This post just helped me answer a question in the Google forum. Thanks Linda! Also your forum is ranking pretty well on Google! I was searching around Google for the answer and saw a link to this page and was like oooh I know Linda will know the answer :)
Thanks Joy - good know indiv threads are popping on Google. I know we are #1 for Local Search Forum, but had not really searched Google for anything that surfaced one of our posts yet. So good to hear and glad this post helped!
Thanks, I needed this post guys.

So, what about in the case of two separate business sharing an office? I assume the same rules apply, but I'll ask in case anyone has any good advice. What I mean, for example, is two psychologists sharing the same office, but are not affiliated with each other in any other way.
Do they have different phone numbers?
There's always a risk of a merged listing when 2 businesses share the same address. Especially if same industry. Do they have separate suite#'s?

In this situation I would think the best you can do is keep them as different as is possible, in regards to categories, title..etc and hope for the best.
There are no separate Suite #'s, technically - although that's how I'm thinking of handling it. I'm involved with one of the businesses, but not the other. They practice in the same industry, identical niche.
One plus side to these situations these days is that if a listing gets merged with another businesses info, the troubleshooter and "Edit Business Details" are quite efficient at getting rid of the incorrect info. At least in my experience.

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