How to Fix Duplicate Listings
More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to online listings. Having multiple listings for a single business location can make it harder for customers to find the business and negatively impact search engine rankings. In some cases, publishers like Google may even penalize businesses in the form of suspensions if they discover duplicate listings during routine reviews.
Duplicate listings are a common occurrence in online directories. When businesses have more than one listing, whether claimed (managed) or unclaimed, for the same business name, address, and phone number, that is usually referred to as a duplicate listing. This is different from listings that occupy the same physical space, but have separate names and phone numbers. These are not considered duplicate listings by most platforms.
As a best practice, you should not assume that your business doesn’t have any duplicate listings just because you have only “claimed” one listing on each of the directories. Duplicate listings with the same business name, address, and phone number can be added to these platforms at any time, and they’re almost always unmanaged by the business.
Sometimes they occur because the data used to populate the directory is scraped by an aggregator. Other times they occur because customers have inadvertently created their own listings when they “checked in” to the business on platforms like Facebook or Foursquare. Regardless of the cause, duplicate listings can be a thorn in the side of local business owners.
Here is what to do if you find yourself with duplicate listings in online directories:
Suppression vs Merging
Business owners who want to fix duplicate listings will have to decide which course of action to take–suppression, merging, or removal.
Suppressing duplicate listings involves masking the duplicate data for a certain period of time. Suppression is often considered the “Band-Aid solution.” The process doesn’t actually remove the duplicate listing, but it does “hide” it for a certain number of weeks or months. Some companies will charge businesses for products, and they will suppress duplicate listings while the business is purchasing the product. However, the duplicate listings will return when the paid relationship ends. SOCi does not consider this to be a suitable solution.
Merging duplicate listings is a more popular approach, although there is a fair amount of manual work involved in the process. Merging duplicate listings involves combining two or more listings into a master listing to ensure that incorrect data is permanently removed from the local ecosystem and that URLs for merged listings are redirected appropriately. Merging duplicate listings can be tedious work, however this is the best long-term solution to ensure a permanent fix. SOCi recommends the permanent merging of listings to businesses with duplicate listings. When a duplicate listing is identified, SOCi connects directly with our partners at Google, Foursquare, Bing, and Yelp to permanently merge or remove the duplicate listing into the claimed listing.
Most publishing platforms have forms that businesses can fill out to request that duplicate listings be merged or removed, however the process itself can be lengthy.
Companies like SOCi help businesses expedite the merging and removal of duplicate listings by connecting directly with their own publishing and data aggregation partners. This process is done using a combination of technology and human effort to identify all duplicates, interact with entities at the multiple publishing platforms, resolve any ownership conflicts, and provide ongoing support to the business in claiming rogue listings that may appear in the future.
SOCi’s process for merging and removing duplicate listings involves the following steps:
- Identify all duplicates, claimed and free
- Contact the support of each affected platform for removal
- Expose unmergeable listings claimed by outside parties to the client for action
- Support client in efforts to obtain control of rogue listings
- Provide education to the client when a platform will not merge a listing
- Repeat this process regularly to promote the single source of truth for listings
Click here to learn more about SOCi’s approach to listing deduplication.