What are duplicate listings and how are they created?
A duplicate local listing is when a directory has two or more listings for one business. Duplicate listings are created when different variations of a business’ name, address or phone number exist across online directories. The most common reason duplicate listings are created is when a business publishes a call tracking phone number that changes over time.
The History of Duplicate Listings
Google, Facebook, Bing and Apple are the largest local search directories, and have developed advanced duplicate prevention technologies to identify duplicate listings and prevent future duplicates. Even with this technology in place, duplicate listings can appear.
Why are duplicate listings bad?
Duplicate listings are problematic because they spread the user engagement across multiple listings, so instead of having one listing ranking well in the search results, there may be several listings all with poor visibility. In addition, duplicate listings can contain incorrect location information, causing a bad user experience.
The Location3 Approach: Duplicate Removal
If a duplicate listing exists, Location3 works directly with the local search site to permanently delete or remove the listing from their online directory. Location3 also leverages various technologies to proactively identify and remove duplicates ongoing.
This duplicate removal process is part of the active management Location3 provides for local listing clients.
The Approach of Other Providers: Duplicate Suppression
Other providers position their duplicate suppression tool as the best solution, but major problems exist with this process. The term “suppression” accurately describes what their process does to duplicates, it suppresses or hides the duplicate listings. The duplicate listings continue to exist and are not removed, rather they are hidden behind a newly created temporary listing, all of which holds true only while the client is under contract. The duplicate suppression is only available on select in-network directories, many of which are small and unknown sites, and the suppression is not guaranteed to work.
When the contract expires, the temporary listings disappear, and the duplicate listings reappear. This leaves the client worse off than when they originally started, because no one has taken care of any duplicate listings, they were just hidden.
In addition, these providers tout the SEO benefits of creating a temporary listing and redirecting the hidden duplicate listing traffic to the newly created listing. The major problem with this is that when the contract ends and the newly created listings go away, the redirects now go nowhere, creating widespread 404 server errors. The client is left with no listing and therefore no SEO value, just server errors. A better solution would be to manage and update the organic listings for long-term SEO value, not create temporary paid listings that are removed at the end of the contract.
Without prior knowledge of this duplicate suppression process and the temporary nature of these things, clients are left surprised and panicked when they see the state of their local listings after parting ways with one of these providers:
What Does the Future Hold for Duplicate Listings?
The major players in local search including Google, Facebook, Apple and Bing continue to invest in duplicate prevention systems and focused on providing brands with information and processes to remove duplicates in a timely manner. Platforms like Google My Business have already done this, while also relying almost exclusively on brands for listing updates. These directories are moving away from ingesting listing data across the web, rather they are focused on collecting updates directly from brands or long-time listing managers like Location3.