There’s something insidious happening on the internet right now, and it’s affecting your business and your bottom line. You may be aware of it but haven’t found the time or the means to make it stop. Meanwhile, every day that it continues, you are losing business. This sinister beast is the duplication of your business data on business listing platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, Superpages, as well as on social media, maps, and apps.
What are duplicates and how do they happen IN YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS LISTING?
Duplicate listings are simply more than one listing of any single business on any one platform. You may not have listed your business twice, but thanks to the wonders of algorithms and the way internet data is transferred, it may be listed twice anyway. If your listing has not yet been claimed, data aggregators actively search for and find data about your business from hundreds, even thousands of sources. Then they assemble the data in a listing that may not be accurate. Once that information is published online, the incorrect information is again taken by others in search of data and the problem is compounded again and again.
You may also have registered your business twice for a number of reasons. For example, your business moved to a new location, so you created a new listing rather than changing the original listing. Or you didn’t know that someone else already listed your business and you went ahead and did it again. Then there are those who are not well-informed about the rules of the listing game, who purposely create a second listing hoping for better local online visibility.
A more malicious occurrence is when someone unrelated to your business (i.e., competitors or someone with a grudge) creates a listing without your knowledge or permission and uses incorrect information with the intent to harm your business.
Are duplicate listings really so bad for your online business listing?
An incorrect listing on one of a hundred business listing websites might not seem like an earth-shaking problem, but when listings have incorrect information, one of the golden rules of search engine optimization has been broken. That golden rule is consistency. If you are concerned about your local ranking in web searches (and who isn’t?), the consistency of your name, address, and phone (NAP) citations is critical.
In fact, even if both listings on a site are correct, just having more than one on a single platform can have a negative effect on your ranking. In short, multiple listings confuse web crawlers, the cyber critters that find and send search results to search engines like Google. As a result, potential customers can be misdirected, and you lose out. When duplicate listings are different, the results are similar because customers don’t know what information is correct, so they move along to the next possibility. Or worse yet, they trust the wrong information, let’s say your hours of operation, and arrive to find you’re closed. They won’t be angry with the website, but they will be angry with you.
Another important aspect to consider is that multiple listings on a platform can divide your ranking strength between the listings, making it weaker for each listing, rather than being concentrated on one. The same is true for your review equity.
But all of this will be moot if your duplicates cause your listings to be removed all together. This can be triggered by complaints from consumers (or competitors) or for breaking the rules of the listing site. Google My Business, for example, may find multiple listings and remove them because they have a rule prohibiting businesses from having multiple listings unless the business meets the description of a multi-practitioner or multi-department company.
What’s the fix?
The fix is duplicate suppression (aka de-duping) — the deactivation of all duplicate listings on each business website where you are listed on the internet.
Before you begin the actual duplicate suppression process on each site, you will want to review the rules for that site to determine what you can and cannot do, how to do what you can, and what happens when you do it. You may need to fill out a form, call the company, or send an email, so be prepared.
As you go about completing your mission according to the rules, be sure to check the Google ranking of each listing on each site, including for both brand queries (searches using a keyword associated with your brand) and high-value commercial queries (searches focused on commercial intent such as buy, product, etc.). What? Yes, this is techie territory and you will need to pay attention to such details .
Also, check customer reviews on each listing to determine which are the best. You will likely want to make the best listing the sole or “authoritative” listing that will contain all your correct information for that platform.
Sadly, even if you manage to manually eliminate every duplicate on every platform, there is no guarantee they won’t reoccur. It’s the nature of the beast we call the internet and it’s complicated and never ending.
But there is a forever fix.
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to take on the beast, contact InVerve Marketing & Web. We can help you clean up all of your listings on more than a hundred platforms at one time. Not only that, we will keep them clean, updated, locked, and totally under your control.