Does your business need multiple Google Business Profiles (formerly known as Google My Business listings) for locations with more than one department, such as auto dealers, retailers, and hospitals? If so, how should you go about it?
More brands are asking those questions. A Business Profile has the most impact on a location’s visibility when people do “near me” searches online according to the annual Moz Local Search Rankings study. Moz says that their influence is growing.
Having multiple departmental Profiles can indeed create advantages for businesses that provide distinct services under one roof. But it’s important that businesses manage them carefully to avoid creating branding and visibility problems.
Departments within businesses, universities, hospitals, and government institutions should have their own separate Profiles. In fact, Google encourages the practice for publicly-facing departments that operate as distinct entities. Stipulations include:
- The exact name of each department must be different from that of the main business and other departments.
- Departments that have a separate customer entrance and should each have distinct categories.
- Their hours may sometimes differ from those of the main business.
For example, these kinds of departments should have their own Profiles because they operate as distinct services:
- Walmart Vision Center
- Sears Auto Center
- Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Dermatology
They exist along with the Profiles for the main businesses at each location:
- Massachusetts General Hospital
In the above examples, each type of Profile aligns more accurately with how people search online. For example, the main Profile, “Walmart,” should appear as a result for people doing a “retailer near me” search. However, “Walmart Vision Center” is a much more relevant result for someone searching for vision care. Google wants to return quality results, which is why it permits multiple Profiles for a single location.
Related: What is a Google Business Profile?
On the other hand, these are not acceptable to publish as distinct Profiles:
- The Apple products section of Best Buy
- The hot food bar inside Whole Foods Market
Google also says that each department’s specific category must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments. Examples include:
- The main business “Wells Fargo” has the category “Bank” whereas the department “Wells Fargo Advisors” has the category “Financial Consultant.”
- The main business “South Bay Toyota” has the category “Toyota Dealer” whereas the “South Bay Toyota Service & Parts” has the category “Auto Repair Shop” (plus the category “Auto Parts Store”)
- The main business “GetGo” has the category “Convenience Store” (plus the category “Sandwich Shop”) whereas the department “GetGo Fuel” has the category “Gas Station,” and the department “WetGo” has the category “Car Wash”
Automotive dealerships are a good example of departmental Profiles in action. According to Google, dealerships can have one Profile for each brand for which it sells new cars. In addition, dealerships can have separate Profiles for their sales, service, or parts departments. Before multiple Profiles were widely permitted for dealerships,
Reputation worked with Google and one of our automobile clients on a pilot project. For 20 locations, we created separate Profiles for sales, service and parts.
For a period of five months, we compared organic results for those locations versus the rest of the client’s locations that had a single Profile for each location. The pilot group outperformed the non-enrolled dealers in every conceivable category. That includes clicks, which are a measure of purchase intent.
Automotive dealerships and healthcare have their own distinct requirements. Google provides more insight for both automotive dealerships and healthcare organizations. In addition, we’ve discussed special considerations and tips for auto dealers.
Google also permits individual practitioners affiliated with other businesses, such as physicians and insurance agents, to create their own Profiles.
Departmental Google Business Profiles offer the following benefits:
- More visibility on Google
- Easier for customers to find reviews about your business
- Effective online reputation management
- A more accurate representation of your location’s hours and contact information
Your locations are more visible on Google. Multiple Profiles means that each location attracts more searches appropriate for your main business as well as the services you provide. That’s because each departmental Profile has the potential to attract searches that pertain to the service it provides.
For instance, an auto dealership with multiple departmental Profiles may attract searches for “auto parts near me,” “auto repair near me,” “car dealers near me” and so on. This is especially important because 65 percent of searches do not result in a click on a website. Instead, Google sites such as Profiles capture that traffic.
You make it easier for customers to find reviews relevant to their needs. For example, a banking customer can leave a review of your mortgage lending department on its own Profile rather than on the bank’s general branch Profile. This makes it easier for potential customers to find those reviews and evaluate your individual departments. When those reviews are all mixed together with reviews of your business in general, it’s harder for other customers to find them.
A business can more effectively execute its online reputation management strategy. For instance, a business can understand customer sentiment for each of its brands and departments at a more detailed level. If a dealership’s sales department is doing an outstanding job but its service department is stumbling, the dealership can flag problems and identify strengths more easily. In turn, that can help businesses better manage their online reputation.
In addition, negative reviews for the service department are less likely to hurt the dealership’s sales team because the reviews are being left on different Profiles. Perhaps most importantly, multiple Profiles give a business more ways to encourage customer reviews, since they’ll be able to leave specific feedback for specific services — that means more visibility on search.
Multiple Profiles more accurately reflect your location’s hours of operation and contact information. A retail store’s pharmacy might operate with different hours and phone number than the general business. The sales and service departments at an automotive dealership might keep different hours and phone numbers, too. Separating these departments into individual Profiles ensures each department’s accurate set of hours/contact information will appear in search.
Some of the pitfalls of having multiple Google Business Profiles include the fact that reviews can become diluted, Profiles may be flagged as duplicates, and multiple Profiles may cause confusion for customers. Here’s a closer look at those points:
- Your reviews can become diluted. Having more reviews on a Profile improves visibility for that Profile. All else being equal, the number of reviews will be lower for each separate Profile than for a “combined” Profile. It is easier to build a large volume of reviews using one Profile rather than many. This risk can be mitigated by having an automated review requesting strategy that increases the number of reviews, especially for a separate Profile.
- You run the risk of Profiles being flagged as duplicates unless you set them up properly. Google’s duplicate suppression algorithms might flag separate Profiles as duplicates. Once a Profile has been marked as duplicate, it will not be displayed on Google Maps. Instead, it will direct to the “main” listing of the location.
- Multiple Profiles can create confusion for your customers unless you set them up correctly. If your departmental Profiles all look too similar, you confuse people searching for products and services. That subverts the reason for having multiple Profiles in the first place. Make sure you avoid having multiple Profiles targeting the same searches.
In order to maximize the benefits and mitigate the risks associated with separate Profiles, consider auditing all of your Profiles, having a content strategy in place, allocating resources to managing listings, automating your review request strategy, and more. Here’s a closer look at our recommended best practices:
- Audit all your Profiles. First identify all the potential departmental Profiles your business might want to operate. Which ones exist already? Where do you lack listings that should have them?
- Have a content strategy in place. Set yourself up for success by mapping out how you will create and manage content so that those Profiles act as mini websites. Each Profile should stand apart with its own descriptions, data, visual imagery, and so on. Your strategy should also include how you will assign different names, categories, business hours, and phone numbers for the different Profiles whenever you can. Carefully distinguishing each Profile with different descriptions and attributes will mitigate against them being marked as duplicates.
- Dedicate resources to manage listings properly or find a partner who has them. This is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. Publishing and managing Profiles takes work and time. Don’t go down this path unless you have resources or access to them from a partner, like Reputation.
- Mind the basics. Follow carefully Google’s instructions for creating a Profile, requesting ownership of a Profile, having your service department listed separately, and reviewing your verification options.
- After you claim and verify your Profiles, inform Google when creating separate Profiles. Request written confirmation that these Profiles abide by platform guidelines. This is an extra safety step to ensure documentation in case of issues. Reputation has a trusted partnership with the Google team and takes care of this step for our customers.
- Automate your review requesting strategy by integrating your customer relationship management to your review requesting platform. Doing so will result in a higher volume of review for all Profiles. You’ll also lessen the risk of the reviews being left on the wrong listing.
To build your reputation online and drive more sales, contact Reputation. Outrank your competition in local search and win customers with accurate business listings, consistently great reviews and high star ratings. The Reputation platform brings it all together on one scalable dashboard.