One Phone Number for Multiple Google My Business Pages: Can It Cause Problems?

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I tend to suggest using a different phone number for each location of your business, but exactly what’s the downside of using the same number on all of your Google My Business pages? 

Google’s guidelines don’t tell you to use a location-specific phone number.

Merged” Google pages don’t seem to be a problem these days – and even when they were, a shared phone number probably wouldn’t have caused pages to merge.

I’ve seen businesses use one number for many locations and rank just fine – and you may have observed that, too.

Google My Business forum Top Contributors don’t indicate that a shared phone number is a big problem (though it’s “not ideal”).

Some of my fellow local-search geeks suggest using separate phone numbers – and I agree with that advice, generally.  But I haven’t seen anyone spell out exactly what might happen if you use the same number everywhere.

Here’s one possible downside: Google may not verify one or more of your pages.

That happened recently to a multi-location client of mine.  They chose to use the same phone number for their 5 (or so) Google My Business pages in different major cities across the US.  Though I’d suggested getting and using different phone numbers – one for each location – their choice also made sense in their case.  They’d had a couple of GMB pages up for a few years, and created the others in recent months.

They verified all their GMB pages without incident, except for one page.  The client got on the phone with GMB support (always a good time), and they were told that the problem was that the phone number wasn’t unique to that one location.  Of course, that was also true of the other pages, which had been verified A-OK.

After some back-and-forth and presumably a little groveling, the client got Google to wave the page through.  All’s well that ends well.

But what about your situation?  If you’re multi-location, should you use a unique number for each of your Google My Business pages?

I wouldn’t say a multi-location phone number is like giving your rankings a Kent Micronite.  If you get all your pages verified, your visibility will depend on the usual suspects.

Still, I recommend using a unique phone number, if at all possible.  You’ll make it a little more apparent to Google and to searchers that you’ve actually got people in all the places you say you do.

What’s been your experience with using the same phone number (or different numbers) on Google My Business?

Have you heard of any specific problems resulting from using the same number across the board – or heard any strong advice?

Any questions?

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Comments

  1. Good topic, Phil. One I may be writing about myself in the near future as well.
    One thing I can contribute here: if you’re using citation management SaaS and aren’t using a unique phone number for multi-location businesses, some of the majors may not accept your provider’s data feed, because the phone number is one of the signals they look at for uniqueness. So, coupled with your experience with Google, and Google’s guidelines specifying their preference for numbers that connect as directly as possible to locations, I’d strongly emphasize the implementation of a unique number for each branch of a multi-location business model.

  2. Hey Phil,
    I can’t say for sure. What I’ve shared is what I’ve learned from smart folks at Moz, but I’d expect it would be the same regardless of the provider, and in fact, likely regardless of whether one is building listings manually or via automation. If a location data platform (lets say Infogroup or YP) sees phone numbers as a signal of uniqueness, then, my best guess is that they see it that way, period, regardless of the source of the data they’re receiving. It would be cool to see a further study of the topic you’ve written about. From what I’ve seen, shared phone numbers are a digital marketing liability. Like I mentioned, I may be writing about this in future.

  3. avatar Joe LaBarre says:

    I had exactly the same experience using the same phone number for a multi-location service business. I must not have been as persuasive as your guy was with the GMB people because they wouldn’t verify the listing until I replaced the number. Chicago area.

  4. Hi Phil,
    Google’s guidelines say “Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible”. Whilst I agree with you that this stops short of specifying that the number must be dedicated and/or unique to that location, my interpretation is that that’s the general thrust of the meaning i.e. it’s desirable and that Google’s wording is allowing for those circumstances where it may just not be possible. To use the same number for more than one location could result in not “connecting as directly as possible”. However, I can’t say what difference it might make if you don’t!

  5. Maybe there could be a domino effect as with these ones near me in Kingston-upon-Thames 🙂
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7ECZ30FaKzg/TFrVwrkHilI/AAAAAAAAAFo/rd9HajFnZIo/s1600/Kingston+phone+boxes+too.jpg

  6. Here’s what i think-
    1. People would trust local numbers more than an unique numbers. Local numbers indicates you are a local business.
    2. With the different address and phone number it is easier to promote/advertise locally like Google Adwords Express Ads, Local directory business listings, Reviews…
    3. By using an unique number can cause issues to get listed on different local directory sites. and local directory listings are so important for Local SEO/Maps Ranking.

  7. Oh typical Google, keeping things vague and confusing! I think if possible, a distinct # for each location is best. Seems to be what’s preferred.

  8. I agree with most of the parties here that I’d recommend unique numbers but it’d be interesting to see an actual case study on this. Unless your locations were for some reason close enough in proximity to perhaps be filtered out by Possum would there actually be any implications from a search perspective?

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