Linda Buquet

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Andrew Shotland did a post yesterday over at Search EngineLand about a Dentist I did some troubleshooting consulting for once. And he actually called me recently for free advice on the problem he's facing. Son is joining practice so he needs to re-brand.

It's a really good topic since Google makes rebranding so dang hard!

Since Google wants businesses to represent themselves as they are in the "real" world AND since in the real world businesses move and rebrand - it would be nice if it was a little easier to move and rebrand on a Google business listing.

<a href="http://searchengineland.com/the-smb-guide-to-changing-business-names-seo-128939">The SMB Guide To Changing Business Names & SEO</a>

There are plenty of complications in changing a business’ name. Many involve filling out a lot of forms to tell the government what’s going on.

Unfortunately, the United SERPs of Google does not provide much in the way of forms. And rebranding (as we call it in the biz) can be the quickest way to destroy your search engine rankings.

Perhaps a few tips in a handy list from myself and some other notable local SEO geeks are in order to avoid the SEO equivalent of root canal:

When Geoff called me I warned him about all the potential pitfalls and offered him some suggestions to help work around Google's struggles with name changes. (Gave him some basic advice as a freebie, have not started consult to actually implement anything yet.)

This is not a critical name change that needs to happen immediately like a buyout. It's just changing practice name from Geoff's name to Bell Family Dentistry since his son is joining him.

My advice in a nutshell was don't change the name on the Place page. Go ahead and build a new site with the new domain and start building up ranking. But don't get rid of old site yet. Keep it and just add a graphic header with the new name to start rebranding for patients benefit as that's mainly what they will see. That was my initial free advice. Then I'll consult with him over the finer points of how exactly how to make it all happen.

What do you guys think? Have you had clients change their name?
Was it a bear with Google?
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: Rebranding and Names Change Problems on Google Local

FYI Dr. Bell just called and we are starting on a re-branding strategy which will be very conservative initially - to try educate patients about the changes and the addition of his son to the practice, yet will avoid any changes that could impact his rankings or cause problems with his Google Place page.
 

Nyagoslav

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I think if the business is of the likes of dental practices, who have many DBAs and in general a great variety of public representations, the problem would not be as major as in the cases of other types of businesses, whose business names are generally consistent. Why? Because Google is (hopefully) smarter than we think. They make difference (algorithmically or manually) between different verticals and the clustering is in general more flexible in some cases, because it is (supposedly) self-learning. However, as Andrew points out, re-branding is definitely one of the last things you want to do if you rely on organic search leads.
 

m_j_gregory

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Hey guys,

Thought I could offer some insight into this. I remember reading that post a couple weeks ago and completely agreeing (plus, I totally dig Mr. Shotland's writing style).

However, in my experience with the legal world (where NAP changes seem to come in through a revolving door :() we have found Google to respond pretty well with business name changes when working closely with MapMaker.

Here's what we've found to be successful:

1. Log into the account and change the business name on the Google+ Local listing.
2. (Still logged into the same account) Find the listing in MapMaker and tag the old business name to "Obscure" while adding the new business name and tagging it as "Primary".
3. Comment in the "Additional Comments" section that the firm has undergone a name change and provide a link for the reviewer to their website showing the updated name.
4. (Goes without saying I'm sure) But ensure that the name change is being updated in business directories accordingly.

Granted, this isn't a full-proof plan of attack but we have found Google to be more forgiving when utilizing these steps.

Come to think of it, it may not be a bad idea to create a page on the site saying "We have recently changed business names due to the welcoming of our new owner/partner/etc. and provide a short background or bio on WHY... just thinking out loud here.. what do you both think about that? Maybe it would even further help Google to be more 'forgiving' in the rebranding process as it pertains to citations?

If you have any questions and/or concerns or want clarification feel free to let me know. Hope this was beneficial.

Thanks,
Matt
 
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Matt:

Great step-by-step tips! Thanks for sharing.

Travis Van Slooten

Hey guys,

Thought I could offer some insight into this. I remember reading that post a couple weeks ago and completely agreeing (plus, I totally dig Mr. Shotland's writing style).

However, in my experience with the legal world (where NAP changes seem to come in through a revolving door :() we have found Google to respond pretty well with business name changes when working closely with MapMaker.

Here's what we've found to be successful:

1. Log into the account and change the business name on the Google+ Local listing.
2. (Still logged into the same account) Find the listing in MapMaker and tag the old business name to "Obscure" while adding the new business name and tagging it as "Primary".
3. Comment in the "Additional Comments" section that the firm has undergone a name change and provide a link for the reviewer to their website showing the updated name.
4. (Goes without saying I'm sure) But ensure that the name change is being updated in business directories accordingly.

Granted, this isn't a full-proof plan of attack but we have found Google to be more forgiving when utilizing these steps.

Come to think of it, it may not be a bad idea to create a page on the site saying "We have recently changed business names due to the welcoming of our new owner/partner/etc. and provide a short background or bio on WHY... just thinking out loud here.. what do you both think about that? Maybe it would even further help Google to be more 'forgiving' in the rebranding process as it pertains to citations?

If you have any questions and/or concerns or want clarification feel free to let me know. Hope this was beneficial.

Thanks,
Matt
 
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