Google Practitioner Listings: What are they and why should you care? - Splat, Inc.

Google Practitioner Listings: What are they and why should you care?


We’ve written a lot over the years about Local SEO and our longstanding belief that it offers one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ opportunities for business’ to show up in organic search. Our obsession also is self-interested: many of our clients are professional service firms, with physical locations that allow them to maximize the opportunities offered by local search.

Most of the articles on the web offering guidance about local search offer a one-size-fits-all approach to creating a Google Business profile. We’ve written many of these posts over the years.

This post is different.

Specifically, this post addresses a little known edge offered to professional services providers–typically Doctors, Lawyers, personal care providers and others. This unique category of Google Business Profile is called an individual practitioner listing. 

Hold on to your seats, everyone, because we’re about to take a dive into what these are and why you should care.

What are Google Practitioner Listings and Why Should I Care?

If you’re reading this post, you probably are already familiar with a vanilla Google Business Profile. If you’re not, you can see our post about local SEO for Law Firms or take a look at the introductory material from Google itself.

Individual practitioner listings were invented by Google to function in circumstances where certain types of businesses contain (usually) licensed professionals in various disciplines.

Quoting Google directly

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. Business profiles for practitioners may include title or degree certification (for example Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).

Other distinguishing features of practitioners might be that they keep their own hours, have a distinct business category (a specialty, for instance, which might differ from that of the larger practice), or may work out of different locations.

Professionals Eligible for Google Practitioner Listings

The following is the current list of professionals who can create individual practitioner listings. (Thanks to these folks, for the list.) Disclaimer: we have not been able to confirm the veracity of this list from Google.

  • Attorneys
  • Doctors – any type such as physicians, dentists, chiropractors, therapists, etc.
  • Hairdressers (note: Google also said it’s fine for them to work out of their houses).
  • Insurance Agents/Brokers
  • Mortgage Brokers
  • Music instructors
  • Personal trainers
  • Realtors
  • Soft medicine practitioners such as massage therapists, dental hygienists, and registered nurses
  • Tattoo artists
  • Tutors

So, when and by whom should practitioner listings be created?

As we’ve seen, professional service providers are typical candidates for practitioner listings. But when and how are the best ways to implement their creation? Let’s talk about the two most common scenarios.

A solo practitioner’s office

A solo practitioner is the principal and only practitioner within an office. Law is one field featuring a large number of solo practitioners. This situation presents a conundrum. Ordinarily, the business itself would have a Google Business Profile. For instance, “The Law Firm of Jane Smith.” But, as we’ve just learned, Jane Smith herself could create an additional practitioner listing for herself, as well.

Should she? In other words…

Should solo practitioners have two Google business profiles or just one?

The official answer to this, according to Google, is “one.”

If a practitioner is the only public-facing practitioner at a location and represents a branded organization, it’s best for the practitioner to share a Business Profile with the organization.

Specifically, Google recommends creating a single Google Business Profile, in the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name]. So, for instance, “The Law Firm of Jane Smith: Jane Smith” would satisfy these criteria.

That’s interesting, but what about firms or practices with more than one practitioner, in different areas of service?

Where practitioner listings get especially interesting is within the context of a larger business. 

Let’s take a couple of theoretical examples. In the medical world, for instance,  it is not at all uncommon to find many different types of licensed professionals, all working from one location but performing different roles. For instance, many doctors who specialize in orthopedics or physical rehabilitation work in interdisciplinary environments where their services are supplemented by the work of, say, physical therapists, occupational therapists, or massage therapists. In this type of work environment, each practitioner is both working on a team but, also, providing a unique skill. A massage therapist, for instance, might begin a relationship with a client as a referral from the orthopedist. But, a year later when the same patient is no longer rehabbing an injury but begins experiencing cramping or muscle tightness, they might just want to reach out again to the therapist, rather than anyone else at the firm. 

If we think about it, then, we can easily see why practitioner listings can work so well in professional environments such as this. In theory, it should be possible, for instance, to rank for all the disciplines offered within a professional service office, not just the generic “main” category of services.

If we think of the interconnectedness of all these listings, we realize that the practitioner listings are associated and are supportive of the main listing. This listing, when created, must choose a single business category, to describe itself. For instance, in the category above, that might be “orthopedic clinic” or “orthopedic surgeon.”

Google Business Profile Diagram for Practitioners

But what about all the other professional categories which are represented within our hypothetical office? Turns out that there are many other categories within Google which this office might be able to rank for. For instance, “physical therapist,” “massage therapist,” and “occupational therapist” are just three categories which might also be represented, and there could be even more.

This typical situation–found in medicine, law, engineering and many other fields–points us to a strategy for the use of practitioner listings.

If each individual practitioner within our practice makes a practitioner listing for themselves–and uses their respective professional category–the likelihood that their office will rank for multiple business categories goes  way, way up.

Now you understand the power of practitioner listings and how medium and larger professional service firms can leverage their value.

A few caveats and suggestions

Hopefully, you now understand the value of practitioner listings in Google Business. Before we go, take note of the following, final caveats and suggestions.

  • Using practitioner listings to expand the group of keywords a profile can rank for relies on only using each category once. There should be a primary category chosen for the main business profile. Additionally, each represented specialty should have only one profile created, devoted to it. Which means, by extension, that in the event that a business has more than one practitioner in a given category, only one should be allowed to make a practitioner listing.
  • Each business profile created should link to a discipline-specific landing page. To increase the likelihood of ranking for multiple categories, each practitioner should link to a page on the organization’s website devoted to their specialty. In our example above, the Orthopedist should link either to the homepage for the organization or the main topic page devoted to orthopedics. Likewise, the physical therapist should link their profile to a page devoted to physical therapy, etc.
  • The title of the Business Profile for practitioners should include only the name of the practitioner and not include the business name.
  • When creating practitioner listings, the organization itself should control the practitioner listing and be able to remove it, as staff leaves. This is an important point. Practitioner listings can get very messy for organizations who allow individual practitioners to control/create the listing and, in almost all circumstances, the organization should control its creation and maintenance.

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