How to handle 2 similar businesses operating at the same location?

Joined
Sep 8, 2016
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73
Many years ago my brother and I started a business we run out of our home offices. The official address of the business is my brother's home address plus a suite number. Because we serve an international client base, we never put any effort into local/maps search listings.

A couple years ago, we decided we wanted to create a similar business with a focus on serving organizations in our local area. We created "business 2" as a DBA rather than an independent company. We gave it a different name (branded for our location) and different phone number, but because it's a DBA, it has the same postal address as "business 1"

Our top priority is to setup, verify and optimize Business 2's local listings and start getting reviews. Eventually we also want to setup, verify and optimize Business 1's local listings and get reviews. So...

~~> What is the best way to handle the addresses of the businesses in our Google local/maps listings?
(And by best, I mean will get us the best search rankings and is within Google's TOS)

Officially they are both the same address with the same suite number. Should we just go with that? Or should we leave the suite number off one listing? Should we use a different suite number for one listing? If its best to use a different or no suite number for one of the listings, should we also make that same change to the address shown on the website?

Thanks for your insight!
 
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Sep 8, 2016
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Hi Colan, Business 1 serves clients all around the world, but I think there is potential to gain more local clients. That's why I wrote, "Eventually we also want to setup, verify and optimize Business 1's local listings and get reviews." Does that make sense?
 
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Sep 8, 2016
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Good question. I'm not sure what categories are available in Google. Both provide website development and online marketing services. I'm not sure if those are 2 different categories in Google. If they are, Business 1 should be in the website development category. Business 2 could go either way - I'd probably lean towards website development but could go online marketing if it's better to be in different categories.
 

Colan Nielsen

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Jul 19, 2012
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If they are that similar it's going to be very challenging to make it work. Google will likely see these as the same business and only show one of them in the search results. Or, you might not even be able to verify the second listing at all.

Could these businesses be merged into one since the are essentially providing the same service?
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
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As of last September at least, different suite numbers will do nothing to keep your businesses from conflicting with each other. Look at it as something to help your clients walk in the right entrance, it will do nothing to change how Google does things. Even two completely different dental offices in the same building with different suite numbers will likely get one filtered.

From the client's perspective, they won't even be seeing the suite numbers anyway, right? Both of those businesses should be service area businesses (SABs). You should only have your address publicly visible if you accept new client drop ins during stated business hours. Even if you see clients at your house, if it's by appointment only it should still be an SAB.

The real issue though, I don't think you're entitled to two listings. Looking at Google guidelines for business owners, you can see:

In order to qualify for a Google My Business listing, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.

If you never actually meet any clients face to face (even if, for example, you had a purely phone-based consulting business with all local clients) you wouldn't technically qualify for a GMB listing. In practice, I don't think it would be an issue to have a single listing for a business that mostly serves international clients, but creating two businesses doing basically the same thing, branding one differently, and then creating a GMB listing for both at the same address is a clear violation of guidelines. All it would take is one competitor deciding to report you and both would get removed for spam, flushing all your review building and hard work. Even having two, one of which is at a different address, would still be a violation, though it would admittedly be very difficult then for competition to make a case against you. My suggestion, is to use organic and paid methods to advertise your international business, and only use local methods (citation building, GMB, review building, etc) for your local branch of the business.

If it was me, I'd keep things unified as much as possible. Two websites means doubling your backlink building efforts... backlinks are a big deal for local rankings as well, and it would be a shame to have to double your work. You could have a section of your site devoted to the local side of your business and connect the GMB listing to that part of the site. That's probably what I'd try and do.
 
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Thanks James. I appreciate the insight and the recommendation. Both businesses do make in-person contact with customers during business hours, though for the international business it's usually just 1-3 face to face meetings a month.

>>
My suggestion, is to use organic and paid methods to advertise your international business, and only use local methods (citation building, GMB, review building, etc) for your local branch of the business.

The international business already has an unclaimed GMB listing. What do you suggest we do about that?
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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1,830
Thanks James. I appreciate the insight and the recommendation. Both businesses do make in-person contact with customers during business hours, though for the international business it's usually just 1-3 face to face meetings a month.

>>
My suggestion, is to use organic and paid methods to advertise your international business, and only use local methods (citation building, GMB, review building, etc) for your local branch of the business.

The international business already has an unclaimed GMB listing. What do you suggest we do about that?
You're going to have to choose one of the businesses to market locally in SEO. The reason for this is what everyone else has said: Google will see the businesses as too similar.

Whichever business you choose to market, take the current, unclaimed page, claim it and change the name to the company you have decided to promote to Google online.

The only other option is to rent another location in the area so you can have 2 distinct GMB pages. I imagine that's not worth it to you though as it isn't to most people.

Hope that's not confusing and it helps!

P.Ss. Now, there still may be a good reason to have a GMB page for both. Maybe the one you don't choose needs to show up when people Google that name to make it to your office for a meeting. If that's the case, I wouldn't create that 2nd page maybe a year or so down the road and not until the page you first chose is ranking well and is established. Although, there is a chance after a year if someone Google's your business name you chose not to create a GMB page for, your GMB page you did choose will show up anyway. Google is good like that.

Just food for thought.
 

Timothy

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Jan 8, 2016
Messages
7
As of last September at least, different suite numbers will do nothing to keep your businesses from conflicting with each other. Look at it as something to help your clients walk in the right entrance, it will do nothing to change how Google does things. Even two completely different dental offices in the same building with different suite numbers will likely get one filtered.
Great post, James. I work with chiropractic offices, and have noticed an increasing number of these problems since August of 2016. What would you recommend doing to help the offices that are getting screwed over from their physical proximity to a competitor?

For example, I work with a client on Madison Ave, Manhattan. His office is located in a large professional building that could easily hold 50-100 suites. Despite the size of the building, I believe my client's GMB listing is not showing up due to a longstanding competitor in the same building. Luckily the competition moved down the street recently, so we are in the process of getting Google to change their address. Fingers crossed.

Another example, I work with a client in a relatively small town. They are situated in a strip mall next to another chiropractic office (totally separate business). One is in #108 and one is in #107, and they each have pretty good local ranking. Unfortunately depending on the search, Google seems to pick and display only one office per query. I don't know how to get around this issue.

Any ideas here would be very helpful. It seems wrong that two *friendly* independent businesses should suffer from halved exposure due to their proximity.
 

Tyson Downs

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Joined
Jul 29, 2013
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140
This update really is the most asinine update ever.

I've yet to see any logic that even remotely justifies filtering more than 1 business in at an address.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 12, 2012
Messages
1,830
This update really is the most asinine update ever.

I've yet to see any logic that even remotely justifies filtering more than 1 business in at an address.
Spam would be one reason but I still agree with you. It's hurting more than it's helping.
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
752
For sure, glad I could help.

What would you recommend doing to help the offices that are getting screwed over from their physical proximity to a competitor?
First, check to see if you're being filtered by possum. Do a search for a keyword you know you should be ranking for. Make sure you're doing the search from the right geographic area, I use Bright Local's tool when checking things out personally.

Now, look for your business. See it? No? Try zooming out or zooming in, or even just scrolling the map over a bit. Is it there now? If it wasn't before and it is after moving the map a bit, then you're being filtered by possum.

So what can you do about it? Seems like Google's interested in showing a wider variety of results to users, including showing locations in a larger variety of places in the city. If you're being filtered, it's because that other business in the same building (or even across the street) is showing instead. If you can climb in the rankings ahead of them, you'll likely start showing again, and they'll be the ones dropping off the map instead. I've seen plenty of cases with two similar businesses trading off showing in the results like you described, I haven't really heard of anything you can do other than work on fundamentals until you beat them out and get more than 50% of the exposure.
 

Timothy

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Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
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James, that's what I thought. I've counselled them to do exactly what you outlined. Getting more reviews, diversifying review websites, getting backlinks...

I'll be curious to see what will happen with this update in the future. Hopefully there will be a roll-back at some point once they finesse the algorithm.
 

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