Google’s efforts in the past few years have centered around pushing local SEO results to the forefront. While local SEO is important for your business, there can be a downside. We all want our businesses noticed and listed on Google, but what happens when your company appears multiple times?
Oversaturating your online presence with duplicate accounts is counterproductive and even harmful in the long run. However, there is also the issue of maintaining balance with real profiles you do wish to keep.
How do you ensure that you’re not overstepping your bounds, while also keeping your name out there? Here are some helpful suggestions for handling multiple Google listings.
Why It Matters
While we’d all love an increased online presence, duplicates are not the way to go. Misinformation, decreased consumer trust, and a negative impact on local SEO are all possible outcomes of having too many listings.
Regarding local SEO, multiple listings may seem like a good idea to increase your reach. However, what they do is spread your presence thinly. Additionally, they are a violation of Google’s guidelines for business listings and you may risk penalties by intentionally creating multiple pages.
Another poor effect is on customer service. Customers want to engage with your verified listing. Naturally, you will want to be able to view and respond to their feedback, even and especially if it’s negative. If you have multiple listings, customers may find themselves interacting with one that you aren’t paying attention to, or may not even have access to.
This can give the impression that your company does not take feedback seriously. It may also look as though no one is paying attention. Negative feedback may pile up and without any recourse, your company reputation may suffer.
What Counts as “Duplicate” Accounts?
You likely have multiple listings for your business. This may include an official company website, a specific store, social media profiles, and more. In accordance with SEO best practices, the general rule should be as follows:
One listing per platform per location. This means if you have one store in a specific city, it’s okay for that store to have its own website, Facebook page, Yelp page, GMB page, etc. It is likewise okay for specific departments within that store to have their own pages provided they are forward-facing departments with their own practices.
Where do Duplicates Come From?
There are several reasons why duplicate GMB pages might exist. Automation is one such reason. Google itself, as well as other services may occasionally create pages for local businesses that they feel do not already exist.
In our previous article, we discussed the importance of consistency when building local SEO. To refresh, it is important that your business is listed and described consistently across all platforms. This includes the name and formatting of the physical address and phone number.
“ABC Corp” is NOT the same thing as “The ABC Corp,” or “ABC Corporation.” It’s a slight difference, and in popular usage most people would understand that these three terms refer to the same business. However, automated software does not always make the distinction.
As a result, you may wind up with duplicate listings based on these slight differences.
Accidental creation, or creation due to company changes are also common. For example, a large retailer may sell items in multiple categories and believe they are extending their reach by creating multiple pages for these categories. However, a department store would be better served creating one page and list it as a “department store” rather than multiple listings such as “men’s clothing,” “women’s clothing,” “furniture store,” etc.
This not only helps your SEO (rather than hurt it), it is in keeping with Google’s own guidelines which prohibit you from attempting to list a single business across multiple categories.
Getting Rid of Multiple Listings
If you find yourself with multiple listing, you will want to clean them up. First, Google will require that you have ownership of the listings. If you have ownership already, then merging them into one page is simple.
If you do not, you must first claim ownership which will have to be verified with company information. Once you have ownership, merge them and manage the single listing.
Take It to the Maps
Occasionally, a duplicate listing may be difficult to gain control of. One way to circumnavigate stubborn duplicates is to head to their Google Map listing. Users are now able, and encouraged, to update local business information.
On the Google Map listing, you can choose to “suggest an edit” to the company’s information. These options include “place is permanently closed or never existed,” or “duplicate.”
If you are unable to gain control of the duplicate page, having it shut down is the next best thing. If the listing is owned by someone other than yourself, Google will reach out to the individual to confirm whether the business is no longer in that location. However, it will at least put the company in contact with the false owner who will be unable to verify their ownership of the business.
Where Do I Begin?
Because Google is aware that duplicate listing will occur, they have already taken steps to make finding duplicates simple. Just log into your Google My Business account and there is a setting labeled “Duplicate Locations” under your account summary.
Clicking this link will then display duplicate listings, allowing you to weed them out in one convenient location. They’ll even let you remove these duplicates with the menu button next to them.
Take Your GMB To the Next Level
If you find yourself with multiple Google listings, the above information will help get a handle on things. Centralizing your Google presence in accordance with Google’s own guidelines will help customers find you more efficiently while boosting your SEO more effectively.