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Have you recently searched your company name and noticed numerous listings popping up on the same website? For those that have seen duplicate business listings on Google Maps, Yelp, or other local directories, you may be hurting your SEO efforts. No matter how awesome the rest of your SEO strategy is, a duplicate listing can sabotage your efforts.
'No matter how awesome the rest of your SEO strategy is, duplicate listings can sabotage your efforts.' - Breanna Lehane, Rank Fuse Interactive Click To Tweet
What is a Duplicate Listing?
A duplicate listing occurs when you have more than one listing on any given platform for a single business or entity. Your business should only have one listing per platform like Google My Business, Yelp, etc. When your business is listed on one of these platforms twice, you have a duplicate listing.
Knowing what a duplicate listing isn’t is equally important. Each listing should have a different name, address, and phone number. Many businesses have separate facets that should be considered when creating business listings. For example, some businesses have forward-facing departments that deserve separate listings, such as a pharmacy inside of a grocery store. Multiple listings also aren’t considered duplicate when there are different locations under one brand like a fast food chain. It makes sense for multiple branches to have their own local listings. Having a unique landing page, phone number, and address is enough for SEO
If there are multiple buildings representing one entity on the same campus, separate listings are appropriate. Consider trying to find the correct building at a hospital or on a college campus without separate business entries. It could be nearly impossible for you to find the place you need without numerous listings.
How Duplication Happens
Duplicate listings often happen when businesses change names, address, or phone numbers often referred to as NAP. These are at the core of all listing failures in regard to duplicate efforts.
With phone call tracking and local numbers vs. toll-free numbers, many businesses have several phone numbers for their business. This can create duplicate listings on sites like YP because they are a phone-based directory.
When businesses move, the post office is notified, but online, people forget about all the old location listings. These issues are often the deepest and hardest to get corrected because original incorporation documents and manual listings can be extremely difficult to update.
Have you ever “fixed” a duplicate listing only to have it come back later? This happens because data co-ops sell business listing data from one directory to the next; the directory you fixed could have purchased a fresh batch of NAP data and created a new listing with which you need to contend. For more details on these data relationships, whitespark.ca has an interactive infographic. This is why you should try to fix all your duplicate issues at once so that they don’t keep returning.
Why Duplicate Listings Negatively Affect Your Local SEO Strategy
Duplicate listings can be problematic. In fact, your local SEO strategy should include correcting wrong information, suppressing duplicate listings, and being consistent with the NAP of your business listings on all future listings. If not, you could find your SEO suffering for one of these four reasons.
Search engines build local rankings based upon trust factors in their algorithm. Google is very sensitive to spam and “tricks” that SEOs have tried in the past. Today, if Google can’t trust that your information is correct, local rankings will suffer.
When you have reviews that are split over multiple listings, you might not be getting all the credit that your company deserves. Having all your reviews in one place can make it easier for your potential customers to see what others are saying about your company and increases your review equity on the website.
Having more than one listing could prevent a local business getting the level of authority their listing deserves. Not only is Google monitoring reviews, but they could list you higher in the rankings if you consolidate driving directions and phone call request data under one listing.
Furthermore, if some of your listing a linking to an old domain, the authority of your new site could split SEO between separate listings.
Google better understands NAP info based on schema. When the schema of your website doesn’t match your Google My Business listing or directories, it gives Google one more mixed signal to deal with. Getting rid of duplicate listings eliminates schema confusion and builds confidence that you are who you say you are.
How to Solve Duplicate Listing Issues
Based on the severity and depth of your duplicate listing issues, you can choose to invest in a manual approach or purchase the power of software help.
Manually Verify the Most Important Listings
After using a listing scan tool to find your NAP issues, take the time to approach Google, Yelp, Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. These data sources are kingpins of the local data industry and deserve to be treated with individual attention.
Consider Automated Solutions
The most popular tools to help you fix local citation errors are Moz Local and YEXT. The major difference is speed! YEXT can fix things in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, Moz can’t override changes quickly. The directory has to request the Moz data, and there is no timeline on when the next data request may be pulled.
Duplicate listing suppression is something that takes time to fix. If you have a pending location move, it’s best to try to correct and fix all of the information at once to eliminate duplicate listings issues, and it ends up hurting your SEO.