Duplicate business listings:
how not to allow them to lower your ranking in local search results
Imagine how devastating it is to invest a lot of money and time in your local SEO and find it inefficient. In order to avoid such a bitter scenario, you should know what factors can potentially lead to these consequences. So, what to be aware of?
There are some ranking factors that can kill your local SEO efforts: inconsistent NAP (name, address, phone number), lack of Google My Business (GMB) signals, too few reviews, an abundance of negative feedback. However, there is one more, which we are going to elaborate on in this article – duplicate business listings.

Duplicate listing – is a listing with the same address of any of your location, often with the identical name or almost identical name/content. Every time you find a few listings of your single store or office in GMB, Facebook, or other resources – it means that you've found duplicates.
Sometimes, you can also find fake listings — they look like duplicates, the only difference is that they match one of your company names but doesn't match any of your company's addresses.

Every time you find a listing with your company's alternative name in GMB and its address doesn't match any of your company's real addresses – it means that you've found a fake listing.
These are the most frequent explanations for duplicate and fake business listings.
How Duplicate Business Listings Appear?
To make your life easier, you can simply avoid situations where you need to deal with a duplicate business listing. Here are four ways how the duplicates may appear:
1
You accidentally add a listing
Here, we mean someone from your company or an agency who works with your local SEO. For example, your colleague may forget where he has already created a listing and add one more. This can also happen if you delegate the task to a person who hasn't dealt with it before.
2
You create several listings for different categories
    Suppose you are a café owner and want to promote your takeaway and dine-in services separately. Those responsible for this can create two different business listings with different categories believing that it enhances online visibility. What is wrong with that?

    Having several listings can be defined by the system as duplicates and may result in a total collapse of your local SEO campaign.
    3
    Another listing sites aggregate your data
      If you have inconsistent NAP (name, address, phone number) around the web, you may fall into this trap. Some listing sites aggregate the data from the world wide web. So, if the system finds your data presented differently in several places, it may create several listings for you.
      4
      You can't update an old listing
        You created a business listing several years ago. Now your data has changed (e.g. you have a different phone number) and you have to update it. But, unfortunately, you have forgotten the password and can't access the account. As a result, you create another account with up-to-date information.
        How Duplicate Business Listings Affect Your Brand
        Even if you personally don't see anything bad in creating several business listings, the industry directories sure do. For example, they are strictly prohibited on Google My Business.

        Here, we present three potential consequences that you may encounter if you don't abandon duplicate business listings.
        1
        Poor Local SEO results
          This is probably the most petrifying thing that can happen because of duplicate business listings. Yes, poor Local SEO results can be the consequence of owning several business listings. It means that in an attempt to increase your online presence, you will merely waste the budget.

          Why does this happen? Because it leads to NAP inconsistencies that are trouble for Google. If Google finds repeated information about your listings with the same address, it doesn't know which one to believe. In this regard, the system lowers these listings in local search results. The same thing can happen with fake listings.
          2
          Loss of consumers' trust
            Okay, it's clear with Google. But why may customers not like duplicate business listings? Because of the same reason as Google: people find them suspicious and confusing. According to the data revealed in the Local Citations Trust Report, the majority of consumers get frustrated by incorrect information in an online directory.

            The frustration, obviously, has its consequences. People lose trust, and statistics back it up: 80% of consumers agree that they will stop trusting a brand if its business name or the contact information is incorrect.

            Considering that consumers predominantly look up a business online before visiting a store, confusing business listings can cost a company too much. As a brand owner, you can push people to choose your competitors that have crystal clear information.
            3
            Account suspension
              This is the third and last negative consequence that you may encounter, and it's intertwined with the previous point. If consumers find your data conflicting, many will start sending complaints or reporting the data. This will invite attention from the business directory that can suspend an account or erase your listings.

              What does this mean for your business performance? That you have dug a grave for your online presence with your own hands. Basically, you would be making a huge gift for your competitors that now can reach far more potential clients than you.

              Of course, if your account was suspended, you can recover it. But it's not quick or simple. Most likely, you will have to devote a lot of time and money to regain your positions.
              How to Get Rid of Duplicate Business Listings
              Now that you are aware of how harmful duplicate business listings can be, you need to know how to remove them. The process can be divided into two stages.
              Stage 1 – Search
              Searching for duplicate business listings should become your regular task. Never underestimate the importance of always making sure there are no duplicates. Otherwise, you can forget about high-performing local SEO.

              There are several ways to find duplicate business listings.

              • Check Search Engine manually
              A good old manual search for duplicates is the first thing many people do. Of course, what can be more obvious than to just google? However, if you are an advocate of the old-fashioned methods, prepare to spend a lot of time.

              Basically, the task is simple: you google your business and identify all the business listings. Then, you need to choose the correct one and delete the others. This should be done regularly. That's why you might need to set up a reminder. You can track progress in a worksheet to understand where you are standing.

              • Check business listings sites manually
              Another manual way to spot a duplicate has the same principle. Identify the list of the sites with your business listings and start searching for your brand's name:

              — You google your business name to find all the mentions on a particular listing site. For this, you can use the following command: "site:listingssite.com yourbusinessname".
              — After that, you investigate the results and mark all the duplicates.

              Once you are done, don't forget to make a notification to include the task in your regular agenda.

              • Rely on special platforms as RocketData
              To avoid all this headache and to save your time, use RocketData's automatic duplicates search. RocketData searches for your locations by name, alternative names + by address, and coordinates within the city. Even if the location has incorrect coordinates (e.g. another part of the city), RocketData will still find a duplicate location.
              Stage 2 – Remove
              Once you have found all the duplicate business listings, it's time to remove them. The removal procedure depends on each directory. Since all sites have different interfaces, there is no universal solution. Typically, the process looks like this:

              • Log in
              • Claim a listing
              • Edit or delete it

              Normally, all of the directories offer assistance or a step-by-step guide on how to remove/edit/claim/report a duplicate business listing.
              While removing listings sounds simple, in reality, it may cost you precious time. In this case, you can turn to RocketData.

              After RocketData automatically finds your duplicate or fake listings on Google, the software generates a report with the results, which is available to your personal manager. Your manager uploads a file with duplicates/fakes and sends a request to Google to delete or merge them.

              In this case, you don't need to do anything by yourself. Sounds good?
              Which method to choose — manual or automatic — is up to you. You can take a traditional way, save money but pay with your time. Or you go for a more advanced method, pay a fee but get much better results and avoid wasting your working day on manual tasks.
              Summing Up
              Duplicate or fake business listings don't only undermine all your efforts to build a strong Local SEO campaign but also affect consumers' trust. Both people and Google get confused by inconsistent data. Therefore, they deem a brand suspicious.

              Luckily, there are many simple ways to deal with the problem. You can either find and delete a duplicate manually or delegate all the hard work to a RocketData. Whichever you choose, the efforts are worth it: you don't need to worry that your online presence will become destructive to your business.
              Want to save your time and be sure that there no duplicate business listings of your company? RocketData is here for your business to take everything under control — book a demo to find out more.
              Get a free report on the online-presence of your locations.

              Find out where you don't have listings, where the data is incomplete or mistaken