More threads by whitesell

Jan 21, 2015
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I've spent the last hour combing through the forums looking for guidance on this - I apologize if its been asked before and I missed it!

I have a real estate agent that is in an office with 65 or so other agents. The brokerage has their own GMB listing (and GBV tour). All the agents also have individual practitioner listings - so there are nearly 70 legitimate listings sharing the same address and phone number, all in similar categories. They all have separate websites and Business names.

This seems to be the opposite of most of the threads I've found regarding practitioners where the main practice needs to be promoted and the individual listings minimized.

In this case, each of the practitioners want to promote themselves, and of course I'd like to get my guy near the top of that pack.

They all use the brokerage's main switchboard phone number in their listings since it's answered full time by the receptionist.

I was wondering if it would be beneficial for the agent I'm trying to boost to get a virtual local phone number and change all citations, website and GMB page to the unique number and simply forward it to the receptionist. My thinking is this would help separate him from the pack and then with other work we do he could break out from all those other listings sharing the same number and address. He'll be the only one with just one part of the NAP in common with the others - the address - so it would be more like a large office building listing.


Thank you!!
Yes, that's a tough one Jim!

While I agree in premise that a different phone# might be a good idea, there are some caveats...

I would not use a virtual # and Google ideally does not want a # that just forwards to another #.

When a different phone would work best is IF they had a long term direct line that was in lots of citations already - ie an established business #.

I just wonder how even a brand new # would compete against the mature # that's been used by so many and therefore has lots of citations for it? It's worth a try but I'm not sure if it would help or hurt. Would be interesting to see.
Thanks Linda,

You've got me thinking hard about the office phone shared by many... Yes, it's established, with lots of citations... But 99% of the citations are for a other business names. My thinking is that's not a good thing for any of the individuals.

The virtual number has some features that I think makes it worth looking at. It's very configurable; you can have it forward to a cell during certain hours, to another number (the office receptionist or maybe a home number) other times, or have an office closed message outside of business hours. If the agent ever moved to a different agency, he could keep the number. He's also building a team, with two other agents working under his name. It could be set up with a directory (1 for Bob, 2 for Sue, 3 for Nancy, etc.) It can actually be a more permanent solution than a traditional landline.

The lack of citations is the problem. With some citation building, wouldn't it ultimately be better to have a unique phone number with 50 accurate citations rather than a number with say 2000 citations, but 99.5% of those citations referencing someone else?

My thought would be to get the number and start citation building first. Once there are a handful of decent citations, update the GMB record to the new number and continue cleaning up the citations (containing the old number) pertaining to this agent.

My thinking is this would help break him out of the pack of agents with identical phone and address records.

Linda, you're better at thinking like Google than most; I wonder "WWLD"?

Linda, you're better at thinking like Google than most; I wonder "WWLD"?

OK Jim, you me at "WWLD". Good one LOL! :p

I have just heard of numerous cases in the past where folks had a problem using a virtual phone #. It's been awhile and I don't remember the specific problems, I think some were ranking. BUT I also don't remember if the problems were verified to be related to the virtual # or they were based on assumptions. (I believe many were using Google Voice, but I've seen a couple others mentioned too. BUT it's been awhile so maybe is no longer an issue.)

However, I've seen it enough, that if it was me I would not risk it. The risk is not only the virtual service but all the wasted time and money putting into ranking and building citations, only to have to change the # if it does not work. AND you never want to change your # with Google if you can help it because that can def cause ranking problems.

The other reason (thinking like Google) is that in their minds, legit brick and mortar businesses have real landlines. Your Dentist and the grocery store are using landlines.
AND the core of business data stems from the yellow pages. When you get a standard phone line that business info propagates out. PLUS Google pulls info directly from various phone services.

I've had Dentists that ended up with a dupe G+ page that had their back line they use for their security system that was never published anywhere. So it appeared Google got it from a direct datafeed.

Having said all that though, I do think lots of very small SMBs these days are using their cell, so that may be another option.

I think the rest of your strategy makes sense, I just personally would not use a virtual #.
How would Google be able to tell the difference between a "virtual" number and a "real" number?

I'm taking "virtual" as a number you've bought and forwarded to another phone.

I think it would be pretty impossible for them to tell unless it was a Google voice number, which they could just cross reference with their database.

"Virtual" numbers not ranking would place companies like Callrail and LocalReach at a huge disadvantage.

Could you explain more on how Google would even be able to verify a number is "virtual"?

Also, even if they did, surely they wouldn't punish you for wanting to use a different number than a land line? These numbers have tons of purpose besides being nefarious. For instance, to do call tracking.

So, would you also explain the theory behind why these would be penalized?
FWIW, I use a Google Voice number for my business, and it doesn't seem to hurt my rankings.

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