How do we consider a listing a duplicate?
When a local business has more than one listing for a single physical location or a business phone number in an online directory, these other listings are considered duplicates. Remember, there should only be:
- One listing per business location.
- A unique phone number and website for each location.
Below is an example of business having two listings in a single location:
Why removing duplicates is important?
- Duplicate Google My Business listings can be one of the greatest threats to any local SEO campaign. A variety of negative outcomes can arise from the presence of duplicate listings, detracting from your local business’s ability to rank well and win customers.
- If you have duplicates, one of the listings might outrank the others. You may end up ranking the one with an outdated address, a wrong phone number or other issues showing up for your searches instead of your approved, authoritative listing. This may mislead your new customers, causing you to lose business.
- Reviews will be split amongst several listings including duplicates. Instead of having a single profile with 30 positive reviews, you may end up having some of those under the duplicates. If the duplicate listing with only few reviews shows up under the search results, the great reputation you are building will be invisible to your potential customers.
- One duplicate listing with bad data can be replicated across multiple platforms. Old listings with incorrect information can end up creating new listings with duplicated errors.
- Duplicates will confuse Google as to which of your listings to trust. It is essential for business owners to send a single, clear signal about their business to the search engines from each place it is listed.
- In updating information, you may end up editing the duplicate listings. Your changes may never appear live because you are not updating the correct one that the search engine has decided to be the most authoritative for your business.
How to remove duplicates?
- Check Google Thoroughly
- See if an existing GMB page is already set up. It’s best to claim an existing one. Pick the strongest one to optimize based on ranking factors & NAP integrity and remove the rest. Make sure it’s claimed, managed and verified. The best place to check for duplicates is now in Google Maps. Google Map Maker was the best place to do duplicate search, but unfortunately, the editing service was officially closed on March 31, 2017. Many of its features are being slowly integrated into Google Maps.
- How to check for duplicates:
- Open your Google Maps
- Start by searching for your Phone Number + Business Name.
- Search also for tightest version of Business Name + City.
- Check main category and tightest version of address with no suite.
- Then zoom out 3 cities wide and search just for shortest version of the name. (Especially important with attorneys who often set up multiple satellite offices that are in violation.)
Note: Before doing anything listed below, always make sure you check all the listings to see if there are reviews that need to be moved to the one that you should be keeping.
What are the types duplicates?
1. Listings for Businesses at Physical Locations:
a) Two listings for the same business at the same address
What to do:
- If they are both verified, you will first need to make sure that you have the management for both listings. Follow the steps in this support page, if you need to request for management. As soon as you have the access to both listings, contact Google My Business support and ask them to merge both listings for you.
- If only one is verified, go into Google Maps and get the short URL of both listings and write them down (save this somewhere).
- Make sure that you have management of the verified listing. The verified listing should be the one that you should keep. To remove the unverified listing, you can either report them to Google support or use the Suggest Edit option on the listing page.
- Reaching out to Google support is much faster. Make sure that you point out the URL of the listing that you would like to keep and the unverified listing that you would like to be removed.
- You can also use the Suggest Edit option on the listing page. Click Suggest an Edit and switch the bar for “Place is permanently closed or has never existed” to Yes. Choose “Duplicate” as the reason and click Submit. This will submit a report to Google which will be under review.
b) Two listings for the same business at different addresses
What to do:
- If the incorrect address is an old address of the business (they were there at some point in time), contact Google My Business support or reach out to them via Twitter Support (@googlemybiz). Ask them to mark the old listing as moved.
- If the incorrect address is one that the business has never existed at, use the Suggest Edit option on the listing page and switch the bar for “Place is permanently closed or has never existed” to Yes. Choose “Never Existed” as the reason and click Submit.
2. Listings for Service Area Businesses (SAB) without storefronts / Virtual offices
a) Two listings for the same business at the same address or different addresses
What to do:
- If they are both verified, you will first need to make sure that you have the management for both listings. Follow the steps in this support page, if you need to request for management. As soon as you have the access to both listings, contact Google and ask them to merge both listings for you.
Note: Unverified listings for SABs should never be marked as closed. They should always be deleted.
3. Professional/Practitioner Duplicates
As much as possible, we need to avoid creating practitioner listings. Overall, it won’t really help with the rankings. There’s even a high chance that it would compete with the main practice listing that you’re trying to rank if it gets more authority through split reviews.
What To Do:
- For unverified practitioner listings who no longer works at your location, but did at some point, contact Google My Business support and ask them to mark the listing as moved. In order to accomplish this, the practitioner listing *must* be unverified. If it’s currently verified you need to get access to it first and delete it from your Google My Business dashboard to make it unverified.
- If a listing exists for an employee who never worked at that address, use the Suggest Edit option on the listing page and switch the bar for “Place is permanently closed or has never existed” to Yes. Choose “Never Existed” as the reason and click Submit.
- In optimizing attorney listings, refrain from claiming the page and do suggest edits instead. Explain the situation in your edit notes without talking about the ranking issue. So explain there is already a practice listing and since this is just an individual attorney listing, the most relevant page is the practice page.
- For already claimed practitioner listings, avoid using accurate categories of your practice. If possible use a more generalize category. This is necessary to reduce potential chance of hurting the rankings for the main practice listing.
- Make sure that the page links to the practitioner bio page and not the business home page. Add an image and description to highlight the practitioner, not the practice or main keywords.