The Proper Way To Deal with Duplicates in Google My Business [2021 Edition]
Posted by Joy Hawkins
In the local SEO world, we frequently run across different scenarios in Google My Business (GMB) that involve duplicate listings.
Why Should You Care About Duplicate GMB Listings?
Contrary to what you might have heard, duplicate listings are no longer “ranking killers” for SEO. They used to have a negative impact on ranking when I first started in this industry over a decade ago which is why it was important to know how to remove a business listing from google but currently, they are mostly an issue because duplicate listings filter each other due to the Possum update so having multiple listings means that they are competing for the same spot and Google might not choose the one you want to show to the user.
The most common use case I see for why duplicate listings are problematic is when Google is ranking one listing that is pretty blank and has no reviews and is filtering out the listing that has tons of reviews and other Knowledge Panel features, this will affect your local SEO strategies significantly. Although you’d still rank, the loss of reviews on the listing could have a negative impact on how many potential customers actually call you.
Before doing anything listed below, always make sure you check both listings to see if there are reviews that need to be moved.
Merge 2 Google My Business Listings
Here’s how to merge 2 Google My Business listings: You first have to figure out which types of duplicate listings they are before you can ask Google to combine the two. Google will perform different actions based on the type of duplicate in order to join or combine the two listings.
- Duplicate listings for storefronts
- Duplicate listings for service area businesses
- Duplicate practitioner listings
Listings for Businesses at Physical Locations (Have Storefronts):
2 GMB Listings for the same business at the same address:
- If they are both verified, and you are the owner of both, you need to unverify the listing you want to merge. Google My Business cannot merge 2 verified listings.
- If they are both verified and you only have ownership of one, you will first need to get ownership of both before they can be merged. To start this process, try and claim the listing you do not have control over and it will prompt you on how you can get control from the existing owner.
- If only one is verified, go into Google Maps and get the URL for both the verified and the unverified one and write them down (save this somewhere). Reach out to Google My Business and ask them to merge the 2.
Pro-Tip: If you don’t know your login to access your main GMB or the GMB you identified as a duplicate, check out this video on “What to do When You Don’t Know Your Login for Google My Business”
2 GMB Listings for the same business at different addresses:
- If the incorrect address is an old address of the business whether nearby or not (they were there at some point in time):
- If the incorrect address is one that the business has never existed at:
- Go into Google Maps, select “Suggest an Edit”, switch the toggle beside “Place is permanently closed” to “yes”, select “Never Existed” as the reason, and press submit. *Note: if there are reviews on the listing, you should get them transferred before doing this.
Listings for Service Area Businesses (SAB)s Without Storefronts:
2 Listings for the same business at the same address or different addresses
- If they are both verified, you will first need to contact Google My Business (GMB) to get ownership of both before they can be merged. The GMB team will have to merge the 2 for you.
- If only one is verified, go into Google Maps and pull up the unverified listing. Select “Suggest an Edit”, switch the toggle beside “Place is permanently closed” to “yes”, select “Private” as the reason, and press submit.
*Note: if there are reviews on the listing, you should get them transferred before doing this
- *Important Note: Unverified listings for SABs should never be marked closed, they should always be removed since they are for private addresses (home addresses) which are not allowed on the map unless they are verified through Google My Business. Check out this Local Search Forum thread for more detail on that.
Listings for Professionals/Practitioners
- Public-Facing professionals (doctors, lawyers, dentists, realtors etc) are allowed their own listings separate from the office they work for unless they are the only public-facing professional at that office. In that case, there should only be one listing formatted as “Business Name: Professional Name”
- If you find an unverified listing for a public-facing professional who no longer works at your location but did at some point, you need to contact GMB to get the listing updated if the person now works elsewhere. For professional/practitioner listings, the real owner of the listing is the individual, not the company they work for. Therefore, you cannot transfer reviews or other information from a practitioner listing to the practice listing.
- If a listing exists for an employee who is not public-facing or someone who never worked at that address, you should go into Google Maps, select “Suggest an Edit”, switch the toggle beside “Place is permanently closed” to “yes”, and select “Never Existed”.
What’s the Difference Between Merging A GMB Listing & Moving A GMB Listing?
A merge is when Google takes 2 listings and mashes them together. They usually default to this when the addresses & names on the listings are the same.
A move is when Google takes a listing and points it to another listing, like a 302 redirect. Doing this causes the first listing to vanish from the search results.
Here’s a quick video overview where I go some live scenarios that I highlighted above.
Did I miss any scenarios you have come across in your local SEO industry travels? Tell me about it in the comments.
If you’re a local business that needs help ranking on Google in either the 3-pack or organically, at Sterling Sky we can help. We offer SEO audits, consulting, or monthly local SEO services. Contact our office today for more information.
Check out what Ryan had to say about our local SEO services on Google.
“I’ve been in and around marketing my entire business career. I value great marketers. Joy and her team at Sterling Sky are AMAZING at their job. I think what I love most about them is they’re genuine honest approach on marketing. So many marketing companies are great at the sales process but once they get you, the results aren’t nearly the level the expectations were set. I value Sterling Sky because they are honest, hard working, and they actually care. The passion they have for marketing is one I share with them and these are the type of people you want to help your business grow. Thank you Joy for your time and energy helping me and so many others!”
October 15, 2020