Did you know that a lot of time is spent in the local SEO world trying to fix duplicate listings? Like a lot of time – try months. Duplicate listings could potentially cause a loss of business, as well as turn out unrealistic Google rankings. The problem is that no matter how hard you try to eliminate or recover from dupes that seem to appear very innocently – they never go away and will inevitably always come back to haunt you.
2 Main Types of Duplicate Listings
- Google My Business Duplicate Listings
- Citation/Directory Duplicate Listings
Technically, all of the above are considered citations. A citation is any instance online of your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number). Think of citations as thousands of online phonebooks. Google My Business duplicates are separated out because they are especially important for ranking on Google.
Why Are Google My Business Duplicates Important?
Shedding the internet of duplicates is so important. Why? Well, it’s over 20% of the reason you rank on Google. So if you want to rank on Google and get more business, invest time in removing, combining, and taking care of business with duplicates.
Can’t I just leave the duplicate up online? It doesn’t seem to be hurting my business and I’m still getting phone calls. The Answer: No, you can’t just ignore duplicates.
You'll be in trouble if:
Potential problems with ignoring duplicates:
- Reviews could be split among 2 listings
- Google My Business Listing is trusted. Therefore, other citations trust Google. Therefore, they trust and copy information from your listing.
- GMB is one of the largest data aggregators – that’s fancy speak for all the other citations or “online phonebooks” will copy the data (NAP). If it’s the wrong data copied from the duplicate listing, you will spend countless hours or your intern will spend countless hours trying to fix the magnified problem.
- Humans Use It! Yes, real humans use data from your GMB listing to find your website, call you, and read reviews. Make sure it’s the right listing showing up and that there’s only 1 out there you control!
- If someone else controls the duplicate listings, you can’t respond to bad reviews, change out old pictures, correct business hours, and more. Maybe one of your old employees has control of the listing? …time to get out the rolodex and call them.
Inconsistencies in Duplicates
Most of the large local search publishers collect business listings from a variety of sources… some use as many as 50. The sources vary from small ma and pa shops to the huge government arena, from web crawling data to user-submitted data, and so on. The “source pool” is a bottomless pit that is filled with inconsistent data entries.
These inconsistencies creates a huge problem of clumsy housekeeping due to slight variations in business names or multiple phone numbers or addresses for one business.
Great example you don’t want to miss on duplicates…
Something as simple as an attorney office listing of 1) James Smith, PPC that innocently also found its way to the web as 2) James Smith, Attorney at Law or even 3) James Smith PPC without the comma. All of these are completely different in Google’s eyes. Same with old phone numbers, former addresses, and the wrong suite numbers.
Although this is the same firm listed with a minor difference, it potentially can create a duplicate listing. Regardless of how minor the difference it will easily be overlooked and will not be recognized as being the same firm. Now we just shifted from viewing the minor discrepancy to being a major nightmare.
How To Fix The Duplicate Listings Problem
WARNING: Frustration May Occur. Keep at it!
- Don’t create a duplicate in the first place – check if you have duplicates first by visiting GYBO.com, call Google phone support by logging in to your listing at google.com/business or running a citation report (ask your web developer or attend Awesome Dynamic’s 100% FREE webinar. If you are not sure if you already have a GMB listing or not, type your business name and city into GYBO.com under the green “check my business” button in the top right corner. Instructions will follow.
- Once you have identified duplicate and incorrect listings, get rid of them. Here’s how: identify who has control over each listing and the URL of each listing. First, ask everyone in the office, check your old email accounts, ask former employees. You can try GYBO.com and it may give you a hint to what the e-mail address is that controls the listing. On all other citations, follow the same process or use their help and contact page. Each citation is different.
- Create a support ticket on GMB through e-mail or by phone support. This is found by logging into your Gmail account of the page listing and describing the problem in 1000 characters or less. The help menu can be found by logging in and clicking the menu located in the top right hand corner of the screen (it looks like 3 horizontal lines). Scroll down and click the help/support menu.
- If you have control of all of your GMB accounts, you can simply consolidate all the duplicate listings into 1 account within 24 hours and combine or delete the other listings. Here’s duplicate listing instructions on how to do that.
- If you do not have ownership of the listings, you will have to request ownership. This can take a minimum of 2 weeks. Here’s how. The entire process of eliminating GMB duplicates could potentially take 24 hours – 2 months with the potential for duplicates to return.
Duplicate Listings: The New Zombies
The true issue here is that if there was just one mistake, the next time a citation website runs its program, a new duplicate can be created, which will start appearing and haunting the Google rankings again.
Duplicates Won’t Die! Keep Shooting Them in the Head Though:
For example, if you fix your Yelp listing but it’s still out there online, it could show up again. Or if you have a magazine subscription and multiple utility bills in the wrong company name, data companies buy that information and put it in online directories. Or you gave out handouts and business cards at your last networking meeting. Suzy Q receptionist forgot her glasses that day and takes those vital pieces of information and puts them online but types in the phone number incorrectly. Again, more incorrect duplicates that you need to fix in order to rank on Google.
What Does This All Mean? Is There Hope?
Well, you could end up right back where you started if just one of those sources publishes new data that causes a dupe. The dupes will then flow back up to the publisher. It is a never ending cycle that floats around like a ghost of yesterday’s past.
Although this does not offer a real solution besides driving yourself crazy, it does, at best, give you that know of why it always seems calm before a new exorcism is required. The current search engine optimization solution is to fix as many as you can and Google will see you are making an effort. If you can get the majority of online directories fixed, you will be in good shape and lightyears ahead of your competitors.