Attorney Practitioner Duplicate Problems on Google Local


Linda Buquet

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Here is a good thread at the Google Business forum which gets into several issue around practitioner dupes.

In one thread we cover the issue of how/why practitioner dupes are created, why you can't delete them, what happens when a practitioner leaves and the best way to deal with practitioner dupes.

Note the part about closed practitioner dupes seemingly hurting the practice ranking. This is something Joy and I have noticed. If there is ANY closed listings due to a move, rebranding or practitioner leaving, it often seems to suppress the main listing's ranking.

<a href="https://productforums.google.com/d/msg/business/CLky0t_-g8k/hEVas82OzTsJ">Individual Practitioners are Not Public Facing and Want Removed</a>

Link to your local Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/116662971526317241769/about

Google has created (or I assume it is google, the individual practitioners never created these pages) Google Map and Google + pages for 7 individual attorneys in my firm. They are not public facing attorneys with their own clients. I want to have the individual practitioner pages deleted so the firm has one google + page - Olenn & Penza, LLP and one Google Maps listing for the law firm.

Google will not allow me to do this even though the individual practitioners do not meet the guidelines for requiring an individual page. Moreover, the guidelines state that they should not have the business name in them, yet they do and still won't delete. Google has been extremely unhelpful and I found their customer service to be extremely rude. Google told me that Google Maps is for the customers - so now the customers look at 8 listings for one business. Very confusing to customers and some of them aren't in the right location.

Any ideas on how to correct this? What happens if I mark the pages as closed? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
My replies:

John, treebles is correct.

In a nutshell Google scrapes information from other sites and 3rd party directories. If it finds atty listings on other sites, G+ Local listings will often but not always be created. Many attys don't show because they don't have profiles other places of if they do, Google has not found them yet.

You can't really control the process or delete listings. If they are in public records anywhere, Google wants to show them.

You said: "so now the customers look at 8 listings for one business."

So you know, there are really 15 listings associated with your phone #.
Here they all are:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/local/united states/s/(401) 737-3700

FYI the proper procedure for an atty that's no longer there is to mark the listing as closed.

However myself and another Google Top Contributor have noticed dozens of cases where marking a listing closed at your address and phone, hurts ranking for the main practice. It's almost like if there is a closed listing at that address and phone, it suppresses the ranking for the main practice listing. Should not, but often seems to when in many cases we've worked on where we've been asked to troubleshoot ranking problems.

AND you already have one of those that's marked permanently closed.

For the attys that ARE still with you, here is a strategy I came up with to minimize those listings so they won't rank as well and won't compete with the practice listing and pull down it's rankings. It essentially makes them a little less discoverable in search too.

Overcoming Google Practitioner Duplicate Listing Problems for Dentists, Attorneys
(So since you can't delete them, you minimize them.)

Let me know if it seems that could potentially help or if you have any questions.

You have several other issues with your listings as well including the fact that you main practice listing does not appear to be claimed or at least is not optimized. So, with 15 total listings that need to be dealt with, you might want to enlist the aid of someone to help you deal with all the issues.

What do you think??? Any questions?

Or any other issues you would have brought up?
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Andrew,

That language is carried over from the days when Google WOULD delete practitioner listings as dupes.

Practitioner dupes meaning additional listings at the same address and phone.

Duplicate listings at the same address and phone hurt ranking even if they are practitioner listings.

So in my mind there are duplicate listings for this phone #: https://plus.google.com/u/0/local/united states/s/(401) 737-3700 (15 listings) In this case there is only one for the practice and the rest are practitioner listings.

In some other cases when we are searching for dupes there may be a regular dupe (with same NAP) AND a listing with same name at an old location AND 4 practitioner listings AND a listing with a keyword stuffed name at same address. A mish mash of different types of problem listings. I don't know of a single word descriptor to call all those various types of listings for the same # other than dupes. And they are duplicate listings for that same phone #.

I think most here that follow me know what I mean and realize they aren't technically dupes. It's just one of those phases that has stuck with me, kinda like Google Places. But I guess I should try to be more technically correct for those that don't know what I mean.

But I always end up writing a book to explain stuff as it is, and have carpal problems, so sometimes I use Linda shorthand and assume folks will know what I mean.
 
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Linda, this is quite fascinating:

"However myself and another Google Top Contributor have noticed dozens of cases where marking a listing closed at your address and phone, hurts ranking for the main practice. It's almost like if there is a closed listing at that address and phone, it suppresses the ranking for the main practice listing. "

One of the most interesting local observations I've heard in recent times.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Miriam, great to hear from you!

When Joy and I have been troubleshooting ranking drops or disconnected listings we often have noticed closed listings that appear to be the problem. (Closed due to either a move, rebranding or practitioners no longer at that location.) If listing has same phone # and especially same address and phone, it appears as if the closed listing suppresses the main listing in question.

So that's a standard part of our troubleshooting checklist now is deep dupe research to try to uncover closed listings. (I have a new post about dupe research coming on Tues.)
 
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This concept of closed practitioner listings hurting the rankings of the main location is new to me. Thanks for sharing Linda. Super valuable and important info!
 

Linda Buquet

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This concept of closed practitioner listings hurting the rankings of the main location is new to me. Thanks for sharing Linda. Super valuable and important info!
Darren, not just closed practitioner listings either. ANY closed listing.

So if they rebranded and have an old closed listing at same address and phone for example.

Now this is all hypothesis and LOTS of listings we've seen this come up on. We've asked Google what's up and they said it should not be happening and does not as far as they know. Should not be happening but seems to often, so worth checking.

OH AND SOME PROOF - kinda, sorta - as much proof as you can get in local.

Joy a couple times has re-opened the closed listings to make an edit, because you can't edit a closed listing. The main listing would then pop right back into the pack! Then she would edit, I presume to "minimize" the listing so it would not conflict so much and re-close.

I'll start a new thread on this phenom in more detail and ask Joy to weigh in because she's dealt with and experimented with these cases the most.

I have a semi-related post coming out tomorrow with the best way to find these.
 

cdawg2610

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Hi Miriam, great to hear from you!

When Joy and I have been troubleshooting ranking drops or disconnected listings we often have noticed closed listings that appear to be the problem. (Closed due to either a move, rebranding or practitioners no longer at that location.) If listing has same phone # and especially same address and phone, it appears as if the closed listing suppresses the main listing in question.

So that's a standard part of our troubleshooting checklist now is deep dupe research to try to uncover closed listings. (I have a new post about dupe research coming on Tues.)
I have a closed listing suppressing a verified, active page right now so I totally buy into this
 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry to hear cdawg, but good to know you can relate.

We actually will have 2 big posts coming out about this tomorrow.
So stay tuned to the Local Search channel! :)
 

Brian Barwig

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Ive also noticed several times that closed listings seem to suppress open, verified listings. In addition, there seem to be newly created listings which Google created that are appearing in Map Packs above verified pages of the same listing. How and why this happens, I havent tested yet. Ive only noticed that a few times but it is perplexing.
 

Phil Rozek

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Interesting possibility. Not convinced quite yet, though. For a few reasons:

1. We'd need to draw a distinction between (a) practitioner listings that use the same phone number as the main practice and (b) practitioner listings that use a different phone number. I imagine practitioner dupes that share a phone number would have more of an effect on the main practice's rankings, if they have any effect at all. I also think we'd need to look at how many practitioner dupes there are (i.e. more than 3, which would be a violation of Google's rules), and again whether they all use the same phone number.

2. Tons of practices will have this problem. Doctors and lawyers and insurance agents and so forth come and go every day. As we know, Google already handles practitioner listings uniquely, so I'd have a hard time believing they don't take churn into account.

3. Listings marked as "closed" seem to stick around forever before Google actually purges them. (Speaking of which, I've always been unclear on exactly what has to happen for Google to remove the listing entirely.) If Google whacks practices for having practitioners' listings marked as closed, then it seems they're creating a disincentive for people to self-report - to mark their own listings as closed. Not good for data-hygiene.​

I could be totally wrong, but my semi-educated guess tells me Google doesn't whack practices when a practitioner moves on.
 

Linda Buquet

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As we know, Google already handles practitioner listings uniquely, so I'd have a hard time believing they don't take churn into account.

I could be totally wrong, but my semi-educated guess tells me Google doesn't whack practices when a practitioner moves on.
No Phil we are not saying Google whacks them on purpose. My feeling is it's an unintended consequence or bug they have not dealt with. Like many bugs before them.


3. Listings marked as "closed" seem to stick around forever before Google actually purges them. (Speaking of which, I've always been unclear on exactly what has to happen for Google to remove the listing entirely.)
Google won't remove listings as long as there are citations for that location. And I think part of the reason they don't purge is that if there are lots of citations for that location, when they scrape they'll end up just creating new listings anyway. So the key is to clean up all the old citations.

Again this issue is not just about practitioners...

Same problem comes up for rebranding. Lets say one business buys out another. Old listing closed. New listing with new name, same address and phone. Same problem.

Joy will have several examples of different scenarios to share tomorrow.
 

Phil Rozek

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@Linda

Then in that case, I still have a hard time believing that Google even unintentionally penalizes for cruft. But I look forward to seeing what you and Joy have dug up.
 

Linda Buquet

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Phil, Darren, Miriam and all... Here is that huge post, well actually 3 of them about this problem of closed dupes hurting ranking with lots of corroboration.

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/google-local-important/27109-can-closed-google-local-listings-kill-ranking-important-new-troubleshooting-tip.html">Can "Closed" Google Local Listings Kill Ranking? Important New Troubleshooting Tip</a>
 

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