the latest from 2am Media

25 Mar

How to deal with duplicate Google Maps listings


Google Maps can be very important to your business, especially if you target a local market. The only problem is Google Maps and its integration with Google Local Business Listings is a bit of a hack, in fact in software terms you could call it a dog.

The data available for a local listing in Google Maps is brought in from two sources:

  1. Google Local Business Listing
  2. All other data sources

Google Local Business Listing

By logging into your Google Local Business Listings account you can modify and make changes to a core set of information about your business.  Variables such as categories, description, location, pictures, videos etc can be edited. All of these have an impact on how your listing will display in the Google Maps section.

How Does Google find other data sources for maps?

This is where things get a bit tricky and grey, Google pulls in all kinds of information about your business from a variety of sources, basically anywhere on the net that reviews a number of listings could be included here, especially if they offer reviews about your products or services. This information also has an effect on how your listing is ranked – the problem with this being the information out there is largely out of your control.

Google also uses these data sources to create business listings that don’t already appear in its Local Business Directory – this is where the problems normally start.

Why are there duplicate listings in Maps?

Google wants to make their Local Business Listings as comprehensive as possible, they also want the process to be as automated as possible. You can’t speak to anyone at Google to get added and they don’t have a help desk you can call up to discuss any issues. So Google’s algorithm scours the net to find businesses that don’t already appear in it’s listing.

Google often comes across information about businesses that is slightly different to the information it has in its listing already. Google has to make the following decision: “is this the same business or a different one,” if it decides the business information is different it’s likely it’s going to create a duplicate listing.

Worse still a duplicate listing shares the potency of your account and often Google will split your reviews and send them through to the new listing – deciding that they are more applicable to that listing. This has a damaging effect on both listings – Google’s index doesn’t know which way to turn.

How to deal with a duplicate listing

First of all have a read of Google’s advice about duplicate listings; basically there are five steps:

  1. Choose the listing that you’d prefer to keep in your account. Make sure that you have all your enhanced content (photos, business hours, description) attached to this listing and this listing only.
  2. For duplicates of this listing in your account (the ones you want to remove), remove all enhanced information. Keep only required information, like the business title, address, and one phone number.
  3. Submit these changes and verify as necessary.
  4. Now, sit tight for a couple of weeks – just for good measure.
  5. Delete the duplicates from your account, choosing Remove this listing from my Local Business Centre account.

How long does it take for a Google Local Business Listing to Merge?

You’ve got to be prepared to play the long game; we are talking weeks if not months to get these issues sorted out properly. I’d say it could take a few weeks to merge the accounts and get your listing back up where it should be.

You’ve got to be vigilant, find anything that could contribute towards the account being merged with another one or split up again in the future. It could be a rogue link to a frame on your domain, an old listing that is sending data to Google, or even an unscrupulous competitor adding a listing to Google that is so similar to yours that it merges with your account and drives traffic away.

Can you rely on Google Maps?

As with all search marketing techniques it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket, a search engine can make a change or a tweak at any time and the effects can be disastrous to your business.

If you have problems with Google’s Local Business Listing they can take ages to be worked out and you have to weigh up whether the implications of losing that marketing channel would have on your business, don’t rest on your laurels!

More and more businesses are going to experience the problems of merging results –because more and more data is being added to Google’s Local Business Listing on a daily basis.

I think Google would be the first to admit that the software running Google’s Local Business Listing and their integration with Maps isn’t 100% – it’s good but it’s not great and it throws out errors and produces some problems. But it can also deliver some serious traffic – and that’s what we need to focus on, the potential for it to really help your business grow.

Remember, if you are struggling with duplicate listings you’re not the only one, check out Google Maps’ Forum; there are literally thousands of people struggling with maps and just as many people willing to help you out, alternatively give us a call, at 2am we’ve dealt with the problems of duplicate listings several times.

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