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The Proper Way To Deal with Duplicates in Google My Business

Last Updated:September 7th, 2016 and last modified on September 5th, 2016. 36 Comments
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Screenshot 2015-09-27 at 8.46.50 PM

Updated: September 7, 2016 – Duplicates in MapMaker should be reported, not deleted.  Updated what to do with old practitioner listings.

Updated: March 4, 2016 – Added process for marking an old location as moved.

There are so many different scenarios that could exist in the Google My Business (GMB) world when it comes to duplicate listings. The approach you take with them could mean the difference between ranking and not ranking.

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, 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 MapMaker and get the URL for both the verified and the unverified one and write them down (save this somewhere). Go to the unverified listing and click the little drop-down beside the title and select “report this”. For the reason, select “Duplicate Exists” and in the remarks section, clarify that there is a verified duplicate that exists for the business and include a link to the verified listing.
  • 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)
      • Contact Google My Business through Twitter Support (@googlemybiz) and ask them to mark the old listing as moved.
    • If the incorrect address is one that the business has never existed at, go into MapMaker and select “delete this” and then “place does not exist”.

 

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 MapMaker and pull up the unverified listing. The verified one shouldn’t show up in MapMaker if the address is properly hidden.  Go to the unverified listing and click the little drop-down beside the title and select “delete this”. For the reason, select “place does not exist” and clarify that this is a service area business and they are not permitted to be listed on the map.

 

*Important Note: Unverified listings for SABs should never be marked closed, they should always be deleted.

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, contact GMB support and ask them to mark the listing for the professional that no longer works there as moved to the practice listing. In order to accomplish this, the practitioner listing *must* be unverified. If it’s currently verified you need to get access to it first and delete it from your Google My Business dashboard to make it unverified.  For more details on why it absolutely must be done this way, read my case study here.
  • If a listing exists for an employee who is not public-facing (ex: a hygienist, nurse, or paralegal) or someone who never worked at that address, you should go into MapMaker and select “delete this” and then “other”. In the notes explain why you are deleting it so the person reviewing it can verify the information.

 

Did I miss any scenarios you have come across? Tell me about it in the comments.

 


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About the author

Joy Hawkins is a Local SEO expert who is a part of Google's Top Contributor program & MapMaker Regional Leads program. She regularly contributes to many online communities in the Local SEO world, including the Google My Business forum (Top Contributor), the Local Search Forum (Top Contributor), and the Local University Forum (Moderator). She is also a contributor to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors survey, a columnist for Search Engine Land, and speaker at marketing conferences including SMX and LocalU. Joy currently works as a product consultant at Imprezzio Marketing in Toronto.

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Great post Joy! This definitely helpful for dealing with duplicates in GMB. Many businesses either forget or are totally unaware you can actually call the My Business support folks.

    Joy Hawkins

    The ironic thing is that calling GMB is actually my last resort. I only listed it as the preferred method for instances where both listings are verified OR if you’re dealing with 1 verified listing + an unverified closed listing (in which case GMB’s method is better for ranking than MapMaker’s method).

    Personally, I’ve found dealing with duplicates within MapMaker as the best option for most cases.

Helmut Geissler

great post Joy

Hope I can remember it if come across next tim users with duplicates listings

Joy…you say you mostly use MapMaker. How would you use MapMaker to merge two listings at the same address that are both verified by the owner? Or do these require a phone call to Google?

Travis

    Joy Hawkins

    Hey Travis,

    For verified listings I would call GMB. Unless it is a verified listing that is pure spam 😉

Dwight Walker

I had problems because Google did not recognise that a company with Pty Ltd or P/L ending were the same company not 2 companies. My new address was still being listed in my old address on Google Maps. That was fixed by calling Google. Also Google wanted to delete Google+ personal account of myself where I said I worked for my own business andkeep only the business listing not my personal listing on Google+ which I blocked. I am still waiting to see if I can add a category to my business without having to close my Google+ account for myself. This is extreme for 1 person companies like mine.

John Taylor

run a therapy business from two different locations, based from rooms I rent at private clinics. The clinics both have several therapists working from that address. I myself have several ‘brands, so to speak, offering different services to clients with different needs, for example a stop smoking service, a weight loss service, etc… all from the same address. I have created a Google+ Brand page for each of these, and Google+ Location page for each. The reason I want them separate is that the therapies and approaches are not related. They are different techniques that are not necessarily related, and are marketed differently to different audiences. I would like to make sure that I will not be penalised for having several ‘businesses’ running form the same address details. Can someone please advise or point me in the right direction for policy? Many thanks

    Joy Hawkins

    John,
    That’s tricky because from the sounds of it you are not eligible for separate pages. If you really wanted to separate it you could set up professional listings for each of the therapists but this is not generally a good practice if you want to rank well in the 3-pack (more listings is rarely better). I would defer to the quality guidelines: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en.

Reid Bandremer

This has been helpful. Thanks Joy. How would you recommend proceeding if:
If there are to GMB accounts for a business with a physical location, but only 1 is verified, and only 1 listing shows up in Map Maker?

Is it safe to ignore this…?

    Joy Hawkins

    Hey Reid,
    I’m not really sure what you’re describing is possible unless one is a Brand page or you have your address hidden. Would you be able to list the 2 pages?

Thanks for the post Joy.
Here’s my issue – I’ve got a Google Business page (call it PageA) that is verified, has about 100 followers and connected to my youtube channel. However it doesn’t show in the map results.
Another Google Business page for my company (call it PageB) shows up very high in the map results – and I’ve just claimed ownership and awaiting the verification card. However this page has no followers and is not connected to my youtube channel.

Once verified do I:
a) keep both pages
b) Make PageA a duplicate, remove it, lose followers and connect my youtube channel to PageB
c) Make PageB (the one that is good in the map results) a duplicate, remove it – and hope PageA starts showing well in the map results.

If you have any advice on this would be appreciated.

Jerod Horch

google has made this easier now. create a store code for each within the google my business center. no need to call anymore

    Joy Hawkins

    Hey Jerod,

    I’m not sure I understand. How do store codes relate to duplicate listings?

Robert

Hi Joy, can you share how to handle if you do in fact have multiple businesses at the same address?

    Joy Hawkins

    Robert,

    It’s okay for there to be multiple businesses at the same address. You often find Starbucks inside Target, for example. When it becomes very problematic is when they are a similar type of business. You wouldn’t want the business categories they are using to be related at all.

Pilott

Awesome article but question. My competitor who runs a face painting business as a service she doesn’t have a brick and motor. The catch is she currently created multiple business pages on Google. She used her 3 friends addresses 1) doctor office, 2. Amusement office, 3) friend location.

Her pages has the same number on all of them, but hides the address and changed her business name on each page. Nky and Cincinnati face painting , balloons and face painting Cincinnati, fabulous faces, henna art Cincinnati.

Is it against Google guidelines to do this? Even her links are different on the Google page but redirects to her main page.

Thanks

    Joy Hawkins

    Yes this is definitely against Google’s guidelines. She is only 1 business and is only allowed 1 page.

Isma

Hi Joy!

I’m a little bit confused with the practitioner profiles. I have an active listing for the business, then i found a practitioner profile for the business owner (not verified).

He’s not the only lawyer at the firm, so i’m assuming GMB team won’t merge or remove the practitioner profile for me.

Talking about ranking, will this be an issue?

Joy, excellent post – It certainly helped me to nail down some of my issues. But turns out the best way to solve the issue is to contact Google Advertisers community. I documented my findings here: http://persistlocalmarketing.com/merge-duplicate-google-local-business-listings/ Please feel free to use the info in your post if you find it useful

    Joy Hawkins

    Erkan,

    Yes, the GMB forum is another awesome way to get help. Part of why I’m a Top Contributor over there 🙂

This is a very thorough and informative article. We have contacted google today and hope that our google maps nightmare will now come to an end. Thank you so much for this updated article. There are so many dated article that really offer no help at all. It’s amazing how google does not give more credibility to articles written more recently.

Thanks for the update Joy, but I recently tried to get a retired dentist listing moved to the new practice that took over but googlemybiz twitter support refused, saying that if he doesn’t work there, they won’t move it.

I’m guessing twitter support is now run by the former phone support “specialists” 🙂

    Joy Hawkins

    Tony,

    Can you clarify what you mean by the “new practice”. In the examples I’ve done, it was a retired practitioner and we moved it to the practice that he worked for before he retired (and no longer did).

The “new practice” bought the old one and kept same phone#/address, but changed the name. Even had the old domain forward to the new one. When you search the old name, the new practice shows in the knowledge panel.

But when you search the old dr + city, the knowledge panel shows “old practice:old dr” listing. That’s the listing I was trying to get moved, which Google refused.

In this case, I don’t think it’s hurting his ranking (which is lousy, but for other reasons), so I don’t know that it’s a big deal. They’re just hoping to catch old patients that may want to reconnect. I believe he retired 3 years ago, but if it were more recent I might be worried.

So I guess this doesn’t exactly fit the scenarios you talked about. I was just surprised they wouldn’t mark it as moved. I suppose the “exception” they made in your example is easier to justify than the “exception” I was hoping for.

    Joy Hawkins

    That one is tricky! Did the old practice have its own listing or did you claim it and update it to have the new practice info?

bog

how long does it typically take to get the duplicate deleted after you’ve reported it to mapmaker?

    Joy Hawkins

    Duplicates don’t get deleted, they get merged. You can get it accomplished faster by calling GMB. Reporting via MapMaker generally means you are waiting 4-10 weeks.