google practitioner listing graphic

What comes first — the practice or the practitioner? When you're crafting your Google My Business optimization strategy for local search, it might be difficult to know which to prioritize. 

That's because Google allows individual practitioners — defined as "public-facing professionals" such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners, and insurance or real estate agents — to claim their own GMB listings that may (and probably do) share a lot of the same information as the practice itself. However, Google does not consider these practitioner listings duplicates — it will not remove or merge them unless requested by their owners. 

While this might seem to create a local SEO conflict of interest, if leveraged correctly, they're more likely to be in your best interests. Let's sort through it.

Who can claim an individual practitioner listing?

Google defines an individual practitioner as a "public-facing professional" that clients can directly contact at a specified location during an established set of hours. To date, the following are eligible to claim a Google My Business practitioner listing:

How should I set up my GMB practitioner listing?

If you own and operate the business solo

If your name and the name on the practice are one and the same, it may actually not benefit you to create a separate practitioner listing. One of the main reasons for this is Google My Business reviews — if they are split between two different profiles, it dilutes their rank-boosting power. The exception would be if you live in smaller town — as either listing could appear in the Google Pack (highly improbable in larger cities where there is more competition)

Your GMB profile should contain the following essential information:

  • Company name (Most likely containing your name)
  • Location address
  • Main Phone Number
  • Website URL (the homepage or location page)
  • General business category/main area of practice

If you own and operate a practice as an affiliate of a larger organization

When you own and operate a practice or agency in affiliation with a larger organization or system, follow the same guidelines as the previous section, except format the company name like so: [Brand or company name]: [Practitioner's name]

If your practice employs one or more additional practitioners

In this scenario, you will want to create (or encourage your partners to create) individual practitioner listings, especially if they have niches or specialties that might bring your website traffic or generate more leads for different keywords. 

Their GMB listing should contain the following:

  • Practitioner's name (title and credentials, such as MD, DO, or esq.)
  • Location they operate out of
  • Unique phone number (distinct from the location's main line)
  • Practitioner's web page URL (such as an bio page or the main subpage for their department)
  • A category describing the practitioner's specialty (NOT the same as the one you used for the practice)

How to leverage practitioner listings

As the practice owner

As a practice owner, the practice listing should be your first priority. Try to funnel client reviews and feedback there, as that has the potential to increase leads for everyone. If your individual practitioner listing outranks the practice's, you can either redirect your focus there or ask Google to merge them. 

If an associated practitioner's listing ranks higher, it might not necessarily be a bad thing — especially if it's high enough to be visible in the all-important Google Local Pack. Your partners may boast diversified or specialized skill sets, which may allow you to target more keywords and  attract traffic from more directions (different search queries) — and give more chances to appear in the Google Local Pack as previously discussed. 

As a practitioner

As an individual practitioner, your aims may be different, especially if you are not planning to stay with a practice long-term. One thing you will want to make sure you have the right to is your practitioner listing, so absolutely claim it if you can — that way, any accrued reviews or ratings will follow along with you wherever you go. Another thing that can smooth your transition is citation building, or sharing your information through various professional directories. 

Why GMB practitioner listings matter

Fields like dentistry, real estate, and law are among the most competitive in the local SEO arena. To stand out, Google My Business optimization is critical — when utilized correctly, practitioner listings can help you branch out and create more opportunities for yourself to do just that.

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