Jun 12, 2014
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I recently reread the GMB guidelines and came across an interesting section about departments within businesses. This caught my attention because I am currently strategizing how to promote one business and one section of the same business at the same address without violating any guidelines. At first glance, this is clearly against GMB guidelines, but after taking a closer look, I think I may have a case.

Main Client: Desert Hills Plastic Surgery | Dr. Hayley Brown GMB Listing

Sub Client: HairTransplant Vegas/NeoGraft Nevada | Dr. Steven Brown -- their site and gmb listing is incorrect and does not state the suite, however, he does in fact, work out of the same suite. GMB Listing

This is a husband/wife duo -- the wife is a plastic surgeon and the husband does solely hair restoration, and has his own client base. There are still some decisions to be made about business names and branding, so please dismiss all inconsistencies with both businesses as my main question is regarding how Google distinguishes 'departments' and what's acceptable and what's not. The guidelines are pretty bland and do not offer much as far as strict regulations, so I was hoping to get your insight.

The reason I think I have a case here is because of the first line in the below guidelines; Publicly-facing departments that operate as distinct entities should have their own page.


Here are some of the main questions I have after reading this:

Does a 'Department' need a unique phone number?

I researched sears vs a sears auto center listing and below you can see that they do have a unique phone number, domain and category (which is stated in the guidelines) But, must they have a separate phone number?


How different does the name of the department vs. the actual business name need to be?

-- Although outlined in the guidelines as "The exact name of each department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments," the acceptable options Google uses as examples include: Walmart Vision Center, Sears Auto Center, Wells Fargo Advisors -- To me, this isn't different, they just include the business/brand name and throw in what that area of business does. So, does there need to be a distinct brand or can it be completely different than the name of the main business?

Should a 'Department' have a separate domain? -- From the Sears example, this tells me yes, however, I have seen others that simply link to an internal landing page from the same domain -- which is better?

I realize I could just create a practitioner listing using Dr. Steven's website URL, but I'm afraid if I include his business name, this may be seen as a descriptor or spammy technique by Goog. (Even though he already has a GMB listing for his business, which was created prior coming to us)

I may be over analyzing this, but before I start cleaning everything up, I wanted to get some advice. All thoughts welcome! Thanks in advance!


Mar 27, 2015
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How different does the name of the department vs. the actual business name need to be?

Each department should be specific and have its own unique name, phone and the URL for GMB. I would Also use Json LD for the business so you can mention each department in your code. This will help google understant youy site better and each department.

Like so:

Department One
Name: Grenley Plastic Surgery: Reconsturction
Unique Number: 222-222-2222

Department Two
Grenley Palstic Surgery: Cosmetic
Unique Number: 333-333-3333

Department Three
Grenley Palstic Surgery: Laser
Unique Number: 444-444-4444

so, does there need to be a distinct brand or can it be completely different than the name of the main business?
If they are two diffrent businesses with same address but two diffrent departments then make sure you have a GMB set up for both. Make sure the URL and number go to the correct department. Each GMB must have a unique number. If you need another line check out google voice.

Should a 'Department' have a separate domain? -- From the Sears example, this tells me yes, however, I have seen others that simply link to an internal landing page from the same domain -- which is better?
They dont need to have seprate domains, but they should have different landing pages. If you want to have two domains u can but then it will be double the work for marketing.

Hope that helps!



LocalU Faculty
Top Poster Of Month
Jul 18, 2012
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When it comes to GMB, more is not always better. I would say that if you don't have a unique phone number, don't do it. It will most likely just cause confusion with the main listing. I think departments normally applies to things like universities or hospitals where users will be searching for the business name + department on Google. Sears would also be a great example like you mentioned.

I don't think your example would qualify as a department. The algo would probably pick it up and think it's a violation of the guidelines since they say not to list a new page for each service you offer. It's a grey area but my vote is don't do it.

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Haha, I meant to answer over weekend.

Glad I saved some typing because my answer would have been almost word for word, what Joy said. great minds...

If it was totally different industries, maybe would have a chance, but these are too close and I agree the aglo or a human reviewer at Google would likely see this as an additional service.

Which it really seems to be. Hayley on her site lists hair restoration as one of her services. On hubby's site he mentions the cosmetic services Hayley does and lists her as one of his Drs. So there is total cross over and mushiness between the two.

(Mushiness, new GMB tech term: Too much gray area or cross over.) :p


Jan 4, 2013
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I love Joys answer. I would add that I believe it was ment for situations like toyota and toyota parts department. Calling for the dealership for sales or parts. Two different businesses, operations, employees, need types by customer.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
Jun 12, 2014
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Totally agree with you, Joy, Linda and Cody! That is ideally what I would like to do, and what I have suggested, however, I wanted to make sure I looked into all my options. I don't work with hospitals or universities, or organizations that would typically have departments, so I wanted to ask to see what sort of feedback I'd received. Can't say I'm surprised -- I appreciate all the input and confirmation!
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