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Google My Business Changes How They Deal With Practitioner Listings

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.

Multi-Practitioner Businesses

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.


Solo-Practitioner Businesses

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.

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Joy –
    “if you specifically request that” this means I still need to contact GMB support team and request for it. Right now in the dashboard it still gives us 2 options: “Mark as permanently closed” or “Remove listing” which only remove to the dashboard.
    Right now what we still doing is report it via “Suggest an edit” link.

  2. Joy, just wondering what do you request from Google if a Dentist is selling his entire practice to another Dentist? Do you ask them to remove the current listing and replace it with your new one? What if the practice is a single practitioner do you really need to do anything in this case?

    1. Hey Ken,
      I would generally suggest you get access to it so you can keep all the reviews and history. If you don’t want to do that, or are unable to, you can ask Google to completely remove it per what this article mentions.

  3. I was excited to hear about this option as I work with a very large orthopedic practice and have to deal with physicians with popular GMB listings retiring from time to time. BUT I called GMB Support today and was told repeatedly that the only way to deal with retiring physicians is to mark the business as permanently closed, even when I explained that the physician is retiring and asked a few times if there was any possible alternative so searchers don’t see a “permanently closed” message that would make them think our entire location was closed. The support person ended the conversation by quickly mumbling something about a survey and the call cut off with no survey. -_-

    1. I’d suggest using social support (Twitter or Facebook) and even include a link to this article.

  4. Does GMB Support ever ask for any type of supporting evidence for the situations where a complete removal takes place? Obviously they can look at a website to confirm a practitioner is no longer present, but that could be the result of a practitioner simply moving to another practice… Or since this article sounds like a the ticket to get it done, maybe that’s all that’s needed.

    Also, since we know Google does not like to get rid of data, I wonder if listings that are totally removed really are… you know, actually really removed 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for this guide. How can you remove a practitioner listing for an attorney that prefers to only have the law firm listing and not individual practitioner listings? I have tried asking Google by phone and live chat to remove it, but kept getting told they won’t take it down as individuals are allowed to have their own listing. This is for a firm with more than one attorney. However, someone else submitted the request and Google merged it with the firm and the practitioner is now gone. Is there something I am missing? I am unsure how someone else was able to get it removed. I definitely want to know for this in the future if the same issue comes up.

    1. Ashley,

      My assumption would be that the other person talked to someone at Google who did it wrong. It definitely happens. Google’s policy is as they’ve told you – they won’t remove a practitioner listing that belongs to someone that currently works there.

    2. Ashley,

      My assumption would be that the other person talked to someone at Google who did it wrong. It definitely happens. Google’s policy is as they’ve told you – they won’t remove a practitioner listing that belongs to someone that currently works there.

  6. Hi Joy,
    This is the most helpful information I’ve run across! And I agree with Jared Broussard! Have there been any other updates to this information in the last year?

    1. Hey Jane. No updates that I’m aware of. We’ve had some GMB support reps tell us originally that they can’t remove the practitioner listings but once we push back and remind them that this is a policy, they remove them.

  7. Hi Joy,
    Would you mind sending me the link to Google’s policy where it says that they will remove a practitioner listing from Maps if the practitioner is deceased? After I requested Google support to remove a deceased practitioner from Google Maps and Search, they replied saying it was against their policies to do this. I would like to push back with some evidence showing that it’s not against their policies.

    1. Hey Jeffrey,

      I’ve had some GMB support reps push back as well. Normally I reference this article and it does the trick. I agree though that there should be something public in Google’s help center about this. At the moment there isn’t but I just asked them to add it so hopefully, we’ll see something in the near future. I’ll update this article if/when it gets updated.

  8. I am a physician who has left a clinic to practice at another clinic. A google search of my name has me listed at SEVERAL clinics where I no longer practice (I’ve been a doctor for over 40 years). How do I get all these removed and my correct practice address listed? When I tried to do it online, it wants me to verify by sending a text to some strange phone number (probably a clinic number) or to send video of myself at the clinic! Impossible. What can I do? I don’t want people contacting a clinic where I do not work and not being able to find where I actually am.

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