The Proper Way To Deal with Duplicates in Google My Business [2020 Edition]
Posted by Joy Hawkins
There are so many different scenarios that could exist in the Google My Business (GMB) world when it comes to duplicate listings.
Why Should You Care About Duplicate Listings?
Contrary to what you might have heard, duplicate listings are no longer “ranking killers”. They used to have a negative impact on ranking when I first started in this industry over a decade ago 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. 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.
Listings for Businesses at Physical Locations (Have Storefronts):
2 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 Listings for the same business at different addresses:
- If the incorrect address is an old address of the business (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 a Merge and a Move?
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.
If you’re looking for more information about how to find and report duplicate listings, my advanced Local SEO training currently has 22 pages on this topic. If you want to get a sneak peek at what type of content is in the guide, you can download a free sample here.
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? Tell me about it in the comments.
- How to Get a Place Label on Google Maps - October 20, 2020
- When Can Service-Based Businesses Have Multiple Google My Business Listings? - October 6, 2020
- Google My Business Updates the Guidelines for Service Area Businesses & Virtual Offices - September 18, 2020