Doctor Listings: Individual Practitioners on Google My Business
Google My Business Practitioner Listings - Should your Doctors, Specialists or Therapists have their own listing?
It's a scary thought - an individual practitioner at your medical clinic appearing higher on Google than your actual practice or clinic listing. Individual doctor listings... has it happened to you?
This is something we've come across on a few occasions and there's different ways to approach it. Before we outline some common medical practitioner listing issues and their solutions, let's take a look at what practitioner listings are, when they are allowed and how you and your practitioners can make the most of them.
What is a practitioner listing?
A practitioner listing refers to a public facing professional e.g. a doctor, specialist, therapist, dentist being allowed their own listing separate from the clinic or practice they work for. Practitioner listings appear similar to other Google My Business listings, although they focus on the individual, rather than the location they work at.
According to Google:
An individual practitioner is a public-facing professional, typically with their own customer base. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners, and insurance or real estate agents are all individual practitioners. Listings for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).
As I mentioned above, many practices initially view individual doctor listings as a threat, however if you have an open mind these can be of benefit to your practice and your practitioners.
When are individual specialist or doctor listings allowed?
Here’s some checks to help decide whether a practitioner listing is allowed:
Does the practitioner have a direct relationship with patients / customers?
Do patients 'book in' with that specific practitioner? Are practitioners contactable during opening hours? Nurses, support staff and reception team wouldn't be applicable here.
Do they have operating hours that can vary from the usual hours of the practice?
Perhaps the practitioner only works Monday - Thursday but the clinic is open Monday to Saturday.
Is there a business category in Google My Business that fits what they do?
Let's say the clinic's primary category is a Medical Clinic, and the practitioner only works with children, therefore they claim the category 'Paediatrician'.
Solo Practitioner listings
If you’re a solo practitioner, Google’s recommendation is you have 1 listing that combines the practice name and practitioner name. For example, the name in Google My Business would be something like..
General Medical Sydney: Jack Smith.
Interestingly, it’s not (currently) in violation of GMB guidelines to have a separate listing for the practice and practitioner. An instance where you might like to apply this to your business is if you operate across more than 1 main category. An example here might be a Specialist who is a Gynaecologist and Obstetrician. Or an Orthopaedic Surgeon who specialises as a Hand Surgeon. There's potential opportunities to broaden your visibility depending on what you do and the available categories in GMB.
Let’s say your practice has many practitioners and Google has spontaneously created some individual specialist or doctor listings.
The important step here is taking ownership of these listings and setting them up in a way that they don’t compete with your practice listing.
The title of the listing for the practitioner should include only the name of the practitioner, and shouldn’t include the name of the organization.
A strategy here could be similar to the solo practitioner example above, where you could focus different practitioners on different categories that are relevant to their areas of expertise or special interests. Bear in mind here that each GMB listing you have should link to a different page on your website though. You don’t want all your practitioner listings linking to your practice home page.
If you have multi-practitioners that work at multiple locations, this article by Whitespark has detailed info that will help.
What happens when practitioners leave?
A potential frustration that can arise is having medical practitioner or doctor listings for practitioners who no longer work at your practice. Keep in mind that the GMB listing belongs to the practitioner - not the practice.
If a practitioner leaves your practice, their GMB profile goes with them too. So your practice may lose the enquiries that were coming through related to the main category on the practitioner's GMB profile.
Here’s what you can do if you have access to the listing:
- Mark the listing as closed - but risk patients thinking your business is closed too (not recommended)
- Update the listing with the practitioner's new location
If you don’t have access to the listing or have any other troubles, you've got 2 options:
- Find the listing on Google maps and submit a change as a user
- Prepare some proof of the practitioners new location e.g. a screenshot from their new practice website and contact Google My Business to inform them
What happens if a practitioner retires - or passes away?
If a practitioner retires or is deceased, here's what you can do. The best option here is to contact GMB support and ask them to remove the listing.
It may be detrimental to the practice to mark the listing as closed in case patients mistake the business being closed too, so avoid doing that.
I hope this information has been helpful and has shed some light on a topic that I know many practices struggle with.
Top Tip: Any time you contact GMB Support, have your proof ready e.g. screenshots or links. This helps Google to understand why you want to make updates and confirms you’re telling the truth.