A local businesses may have a website as well as listings for people who work for the firm. Examples include, doctors, lawyers and realtors. Google allows both the business and the “individual practitioner” (a Google term) to have a local business listing and to get star ratings.

One of the questions I get asked by these clients is, “should I focus on reviews for the business or reviews for me personally?”

Both are important, but for different reasons.

  • Business Reviews – are important for people searching Google to solve a problem. The contractor who wants to set up a condo association is going to look for a law firm to help. He’s not searching for any specific lawyer. He wants a knowledgeable, reputable, local firm he can trust.
  • Personal Reviews – A friend recommends a Real Estate agent to their friend. 80% of people will Google that name before they call.

Both are important to build business depending on where the customer is in their “search journey” (marcom speak).

What Google Says

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).

An individual practitioner should create their own dedicated Business Profile if:

  • They operate in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own Business Profiles.
  • They can be contacted directly at the verified location during stated hours.

A practitioner shouldn’t have multiple Business Profiles to cover all of their specializations. Sales associates or lead generation agents for corporations aren’t individual practitioners and aren’t eligible for a Business Profile.

Multiple practitioners at one location

If the practitioner is one of several public-facing practitioners at this location:

  • The organization should create a Business Profile for this location, separate from that of the practitioner.
  • The title of the Business Profile for the practitioner should include only the name of the practitioner, and shouldn’t include the name of the organization.

Solo practitioners that belong to branded organizations

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. Create a single Business Profile, named using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].

Acceptable: “Allstate: Joe Miller” (if Joe is the sole public-facing practitioner at this Allstate-branded location)

What I Recommend

I recommend clients Google both themselves and their business monthly and see what comes up on the first page of Google. You want a solid mix of high reviews (4.8-5 star) on Google and Facebook, as well as targeted directories. For a Realtor, that means Realtor.com and Zillow.com. For an attorney, it means Findlaw.com and Lawyers.com.

Reviews, combined with a website with solid content focused on your firm’s keywords and back links from other websites are the secret sauce to building your business online, and ultimately profits. Guest articles or links to your website from other targeted industry sites are just as important too.

The reason I believe most businesses don’t work for reviews is that reviews don’t build business today – they build business in 3 months to 3 years. In the real estate world, this is called filling your pipeline. The fatter your pipeline, the more low-profit business you can turn away and the more you can charge per hour in the future. A fat pipeline means you can make more money working fewer hours on matters that interest you.

Finally, don’t believe stories about people not trusting reviews. Until something better comes along, reviews still matter.