Strategies for solving the professional duplicates puzzle.

I think I figured out a couple really good solutions to the Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer Google dupe problem. Last week I blogged about Google throwing a new puzzle piece into the mix that could impact rankings and cause other problems for professional practices. In a brief nutshell, Google will no longer remove or merge practitioner duplicate listings which can hurt ranking for the main practice listing.

There will be 3 parts to this post where I will explain how to minimize Google Places practitioner duplicates, so they don’t impact ranking for your main listing.
1) Site Link 2) Categories 3) How To Options.

1st disclaimer – as with any advice about Google Places, each situation is unique. There ARE situations where I would want to optimize the practice listing AND Dr or Atty listings. There are also all types of scenarios and exceptions to what I am about to explain. But IN GENERAL the best strategy is one strong main listing and delete the rest. Which we can no longer do, so I suggest minimizing the Dr/Lawyer dupes with the techniques below.

2nd disclaimer – I’m sharing strategies and advice based on my own logic. As we all know Places is not always logical and things do not always work the way we expect them to. So as with any advice you read anywhere – always do your own due diligence before trying it yourself and when in doubt, test it out!

EXAMPLE CASE TO ILLUSTRATE THESE STRATEGIES: Let’s just use a straight forward easy case. Pretend we have a Dental Practice listing we’ve been optimizing and Google has just created a listing for the 2 Dentists as well. Google won’t remove them now. We don’t want the Dr. listings to hurt rankings for the main practice listing AND we don’t want duplicate confusion to cause Google to disconnect the web site and MAIN Place page in the search results.

NOTE: You don’t need to claim all the Dr/Lawyer listings to do the following. See “How To” at bottom for more details.

SITE LINK PROBLEM: So on your main practice Place page you likely have the site link set to the home page. If G scrapes the Dr. listings and IF she adds a site link, it’s going to go to home page too. When you have a bunch of dupes all going to the home page and G gets confused, she often just disconnects the site and Place page in the blended search results, because she’s not sure which Place page to match with the site.

SITE LINK SOLUTION – LINK TO DR PAGE NOT HOME PAGE: So on Dr dupes, I recommend changing the link on the Dentist Place pages to go to the landing page on the site that’s about that specific Dr – if there is a separate page and often there is. If not, there is usually a “Meet the Team” page or “About the Doctors” page that lists them all.

So on your Dr. dupes, change the Place page link from site.com to site.com/drjones or site.com/dentists or site.com/team or whatever page has the Dr. bio(s). This will help prevent the Dr. dupe from competing with the main practice listing in blended search which will normally link to site.com.

Additionally this will minimize the chance of the Dr. dupe ranking at all and will in effect suppress it in most cases. Since the blended algo is largely about on-site SEO and since the Dr. page is NOT normally filled with City+Dental keywords, and more so is just bio content, like education and interests – it likely won’t rank for any very important and competitive keywords. (Again you don’t need to claim all the Dr. dupes to do this.)

This strategy is very similar to what you would do with a multi-location practice where you would link each practice Place page, to the location landing page on the site, instead of the home page.

CATEGORIES: To minimize ranking impact of the Dr. dupes, select a category that won’t interfere with the main keywords you are trying to rank for on the main practice listing. This could be a little tricky in some industries like Chiropractors where there aren’t that many good default categories to choose from. BUT in my example above for Dentists, here is what I would do. For the Dentist dupes I would use the Google default category “Dental Clinic”. I never use this cat for my Dentists, because I think it tends to attract more of the low end patients searching for a low end HMO type practice. Most of my Dentists are high end and would never refer to their practice as a clinic.

So try to find some other default category to use instead of the main category “Dentist” so that the Dr. dupes don’t compete with the practice listing for the core keyword. Now this MAY be tricky because Google tends to use Dentist as the default category on all Dental listings. SO I’m not sure if she’ll listen to you if you try to delete the default Dentist cat and replace with Dental Clinic. (But it’s worth a try.)

HOW TO STRATEGY #1: I think this scenario is most common. If you aren’t getting paid big bucks to thoroughly and totally manage ALL the listings and if you aren’t charging extra per dupe – but you still NEED to manage the Dr. dupes so they don’t hurt rankings for the main listing – then I recommend not even claiming the Dr. Dupes.

Be sure you are NOT logged into the Google account the main practice listing is in. On Dr dupe, click “edit this listing”. Change site link to site.com/drpage and change the category. Be sure to select “email me” so you are notified of the change. The maps team will eval the edit, but should approve. Especially the site link, because Dr. Smith’s G+ Local page linking to site.com/drsmith is highly relevant. Last time I did a map edit this way it only took a couple days so was by far faster and easier than claim/postcard/wait/pin/edit and then wait again for the slow Places edit cycle.

HOW TO STRATEGY #2: IF you are paid enough to take a very pro-active stance on managing the clients G+ Local accounts OR if you are charging extra for each Dr. dupe OR if it’s a high profile practice, with high profile Drs that get lots of reviews and want an optimized profile – then you could claim the Dr. dupes. Add an image and description to highlight the Dr, not the practice or main keywords. Still minimize the category and link to the Dr. bio page. to reduce potential chance of hurting the rankings for the main practice listing.

What do you think? Helpful? Workable? Make sense?
Any other ideas or questions?

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