About a month ago, Google My Business support changed the process of how they handle practitioner listings. I did announce this to my local SEO training subscribers in May but also wanted to publish a public guide on it.
If a business has multiple practitioners and has a practitioner who no longer works for them, there are 3 different scenarios that would describe why that person is now gone.
The practitioner retired
The process for this has changed. Previously, if you had a practitioner that retired, the default response you’d get from Google My Business (GMB) support would be to mark the listing as closed. This is a horrible experience for the business since many of their clients/patients would be searching and thinking the entire business is closed. Google will now entirely remove the listing from Google Maps if you specifically request that.
The practitioner is deceased
Similar to the above scenario, Google My Business would default to marking the listing as permanently closed. I personally find this messaging even more terrible for someone who is dead. No one wants to see that. In these cases, Google will now entirely remove the listing from Google Maps if you specifically request that.
The practitioner now works elsewhere
Nothing has changed for this scenario. The correct action here is still to update the listing with the new location’s information. Not exactly ideal for the business but Google My Business considers the true owner of a practitioner listing the person it names, not the business they work for.
We often run into scenarios with dentists and insurance agents where a business will purchase another business that was run by a solo-practitioner. For example, this State Farm Insurance agent took over for another State Farm agent and kept the same customers and often the same phone number or address. In these cases, Google My Business won’t update the listing for you (they can’t change a practitioner listing to another practitioner) and their default response was just to mark the listing for the old practitioner as closed. This is particularly troublesome for solo-practitioners considering they often only have 1 listing total so there isn’t a separate practice listing that they can get control of.
In these cases, Google will now entirely remove the listing from Google Maps if you specifically request that.
If you’re bringing these cases to the Google My Business support team, be aware that since this is a new process there is a possibility that they might tell you that they have to mark it closed. Feel free to reference this article if that’s the case – I’ve already had several of these successfully completed.
Personally, I’m very happy about this change and give a big kudos to the individuals over at Google that helped make it happen.