Local search marketing relies on consistency of information as well as following the guidelines established by business listing sites like Google My Business, Bing Places and even Facebook.
A key guideline of these sites is to maintain only one profile for your business on their platform.
Duplication of listings can cause a myriad of problems, which can arise from a variety of factors. We will discuss these issues, how to prevent them and what to do in the event they arise.
What Is a Duplicate Listing?
Before we can identify how a duplicate listing is created, why we need to care or what we need to do when they come up, we need to identify what they are.
A duplicate listing happens when there are multiple sources of the same information about a business contained within a singular business directory (Google My Business, Bing Places, etc).
Why should you care?
Directories like Google My Business have community guidelines and terms of service which explicitly state that those duplicate listings are not permitted.
Violating the terms of service for these sites can cause many problems for your business:
- Listing suspension
- Falling out of verification
- Limited or delayed growth
- Lack of visibility in search results (they'll see your competition instead)
In addition to the problems duplicate listings can cause in the realm of violating guidelines and terms of service, the effects of duplicate listings on the strength of your business’s online presence can be long-lasting if you don't deal with them correctly and quickly.
Because search engines look for consistent information across multiple directories, duplicates, which may have incorrect information, can raise red flags about the business and lead to a less-effective digital presence.
In short, duplicate listings can cause your business to drop off search results, weaken your digital presence and lead customers to inaccurate information.
How Do Duplicate Listings Happen?
There are two main sources of duplicate listings: automation and manual creation.
Duplicate listings that arise from automation can come from a few different sources.
- Some sites will pull (often inaccurate) business information from public sources like Google, your website or social media activity to create a claimable listing
- Google AdWords location extensions for campaigns that are not synced/added to your Google My Business account can create duplicate listings in order to appear in the Google Maps ad space
- Some smaller business directories will pull information from larger databases or listing sites, which may not be completely accurate in the information about your business
There are multiple ways a duplicate listing can be manually created:
- Deliberate Violation - a business owner may willingly violate the terms of service or directory guidelines under the guise they can increase their visibility.
- Ignorance of Terms or Guidelines - a business owner may create a duplicate listing for different products or services they offer at the same location without realizing it's a violation of the terms or guidelines of the directory. One listing can be optimized for multiple products or services.
- Changes in Business Information - a business owner may create a duplicate listing if they change some of their business information (name, address, phone number, website, etc) instead of editing the existing listing they already own or manage. Simply change the information on your listing and follow any re-verification process that could be required.
- Accidental Creation - a business owner may create a duplicate listing if they are unaware of an existing business profile on a particular directory that is available to claim. Or the business owner has lost or forgotten their login information they use to manage the existing listing on the directory.
What to Do With a Duplicate Listing
When you discover a duplicate listing, you need to claim the profile and either delete it or contact customer support for the directory to merge it with your existing listing.
A claimable listing will usually have an “is this your business?” link to guide you through the process, which typically involves creating an account. From there you will be able to change and verify the information in the listing and monitor it for potential changes.
How to Prevent Duplicate Listings
The key to preventing duplicate listings from arising is to monitor your business information, as well as scanning directories and existing listings on a regular basis.
Because information can change over time on an unmonitored listing, duplicates with incorrect information have a high probability of arising if careful attention is not paid.
Duplicate listings are harmful to your business’s digital presence and need to be treated with high priority.
Duplicate listings can also lead to suspension, de-verification and wholly inaccurate information about your business finding its way in front of customers.
To ensure your digital presence is consistent and powerful, you need to monitor your listings and business information closely and consistently.
Suppress, claim, delete or correct the additional listings to ensure your business has the best chance to grow in its digital visibility and be seen by more customers.
Need help with duplicate listings? Let us know.