The Google Business Profile (GBP) is about one thing: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Business owners who care about ranking well on Google Maps know that their business location is an important ranking factor. Therefore, many people are looking for the best rental space in the center of their city to get an office.
Prime real estate is hard to come by and often that means renting office space in a building with dozens of other businesses. These are not only offices, but often all kinds of companies are operated from one location. For example, think of spas in a hotel.
If you have several companies at one address, Google Maps can become cluttered very quickly.
There are many important things to know about managing your Google Business Profiles when you have multiple businesses in one location. So the golden question is, “How do I do this?” And as we always say in SEO, “It depends.”
So I’m going to present you with some scenarios that will help you understand how Google treats businesses located at the same address. And how best to do it Manage your local business listing if it is at the same address as other companies.
Many different companies – one address
In general, verifying your Google Business Profile (GBP) is not a problem for an office building with multiple companies in it. If none of the businesses in your area belong to your industry or are in direct competition with your services, you shouldn’t have any trouble showing up on maps.
It becomes difficult when a company in your industry is a little too close to your physical address, i.e. in the same building or in an adjacent building. In this case problems could arise Google’s local filter and your listing will not rank as well as it could.
All about the local filter
We all know that the main category is one of the most important ranking factors for GBP listings Choosing the right one is extremely important.
Wait, what is the local filter?
What many people don’t know is that two businesses that are physically located at the same address and belong to the same category are affected by Google’s local filter. Before you ask, no, adding a suite number doesn’t consider it a separate address, according to Google.
Essentially, the local filter is similar to the organic filter in the sense that it filters out things it deems similar or duplicate. The local filter filters entries based on:
- main category
- URL and company name
- Address & Proximity
Google selects the listing with the highest ranking authority for that particular keyword to rank for, and then omits all other listings at that address from the ranking.
For example, there are two lawyers at one address. One of the attorneys is classified as a ‘Palmdale Personal Injury Attorney’ and the other as a ‘Palmdale Auto Accident Attorney’. However, not both will rank for the same keyword at the same time.
With each search, Google selects one entry for ranking and the other entries usually do not receive any ranking at all. Entries can be filtered by one keyword without being filtered by others and vice versa. Similar to organic search, the local filter selects the “best” listing and filters out other listings that are too similar.
What to do if affected by local filter?
To get unfiltered, you need to increase your relevance to that particular keyword. This can be done in many ways including:
- Review the categories in the corresponding ranked listings and see if you’re missing any relevant categories.
- Consolidation of duplicate entries (if any).
- Increase in the organic ranking of the entire domain for this keyword. This can have a big impact.
- Rename your business to include keywords in your company name – legally or with a DBA. This is the best way to incorporate keywords into your GBP business name without violating them Google Policies.
If none of the above works well enough and it is feasible, moving your office location is the best way to go unfiltered. Here is an example Geo Grid Rankings Results for a listing that was filtered versus rankings after the filter was unfiltered.
Are you moving your address? Make sure you avoid the filter
If you are looking to relocate your office to improve your local map ranking, I recommend taking a look at the current businesses in your potential new office building. You want to make sure that no competitor in your industry, especially if they use the same main category in their GBP, is in the same building or in an adjacent building. This way you can bypass the local filter and give your listing the best chance of maximum search visibility.
Be careful when listing practitioners
One industry that I’ve noticed has a lot of problems with the local filter, and that’s real estate. It seems every real estate agent in the industry has a list of practitioners, which is generally acceptable Google Business Profile Guidelines.
The problem is that they are usually all verified at the same address, usually the brokerage firm they work at.
I almost always recommend these brokers to create the practitioner listings at their home address and then hide the address. Likewise, I would advise those who are already registered with Maps to “relocate” to their home address and stay away from all other practitioners.
This is because if you create a series of real estate agent listings at the same address, they will all weaken each other’s authority and none of them will rank far apart.
The same applies to lawyers, financial advisors, insurance agents and other professionals who are permitted to create practitioner listings under Google’s guidelines. Quality is more important than quantity in most cases, especially when you have two business listings that are too close together – they offer you no better value than a single listing.
Are two GBP quotes better than one? Not always.
Still, a couple of times I have come across the scenario where a business owner has two separate businesses at the same address or multiple practitioners are verified at the same address. In some cases, this would be a viable strategy when the companies are in two separate industries and their services do not overlap at all.
It is also very important to ensure that two listings using the same address have legally distinct names and have proof of business showing that they are legally distinct entities. You’ll also need different phone numbers and, if possible, different websites to distinguish the two companies, thereby safeguarding against any possible action by Google merge the business listings.
word of warning
If Google thinks that two listings are too similar, even if they have different categories, Google may mark one as a duplicate and merge the listings without warning. This merge cannot be undone by Google SupportTherefore, it is crucial to take steps to prevent this from happening. If it does happen though, don’t panic, being merged isn’t always bad!
The Magic of GBP Merging!
Take this client we worked with, for example, who does HVAC and plumbing installations. When they came to us, they had a listing with “HVAC” as the main category and then another listing with “Plumber” as the main category. They hoped to rank with the HVAC list for HVAC terms and with the plumber list for plumbing terms.
But when they signed up with us, Google merged the two listings without warning since they had the same address and similar names. Surprisingly, we found that after the merge for plumbing keywords, the HVAC listing now ranked slightly better than the plumbing listing – even if it didn’t rank well before, it was a win!
Although they couldn’t use “plumbing” as the main category due to the authority of the HVAC list, they now performed better in the “plumbing” area And HVAC terms with one listing instead of two, as their rankings for “Oven Repair” and other HVAC terms increased significantly after the merge!
Take your time planning a new GBP. More is not always better!
Managing a business listing on Google Business Profile can take a lot of time and effort to rank well and perform well. When expanding into new locations or optimizing your current locations, it is crucial to plan and conduct research to ensure you are not – and will not – be negatively impacted by the local filter. If you don’t do this, your carefully optimized listings may be missing from the results of important searches.