Google Maps: How to Remove Duplicate Records in the Local Business Center

It is not uncommon in Google Maps for one business location to have multiple business listings. They come from Google’s many data providers, readers who create new records before checking for existing records and from the Local Business Center itself.

There has always been confusion about how to handle these duplicate records as the wrong click could remove the business from Maps completely. Even though you thought you were suspending the duplicate you might be suspending all of your records. The process is counter intuitive to the point that in the past even Google has had trouble describing the process of duplicate record removal.

Google has now published an authoritative description of the duplicate removal process (updated 5/9):

Disclaimer: Before you get started, it’s important to remember that a listing contains information merged from multiple sources. Suspending a duplicate listing could cause the original listing to be removed from Maps, because all sources of information for both the original and the duplicate might be suppressed.

  1. Choose the listing that you’d prefer to keep in your account. Make sure that you have all your enhanced content (photos, business hours, description) attached to this listing and this listing only.
  2. For duplicates of this listing in your account (the ones you want to remove), remove all enhanced information. Keep only required information, like the business title, address, and onephone number.
  3. Submit these changes and verify as necessary.
  4. Now, sit tight for a couple of weeks – just for good measure.
  5. Delete the duplicates from your account, choosing Remove this listing from my Local Business Center account.

That’s it! Now you should only have one entry to control the details of your business listing. Be patient with updating certain kinds of information, like pictures — they should eventually appear in Maps.

Kudos to Google and Joel for posting this instruction.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: How to Remove Duplicate Records in the Local Business Center by

76 thoughts on “Google Maps: How to Remove Duplicate Records in the Local Business Center”

  1. Important and good information. The only issue I’m concerned about is that Google has evidently suspended phone confirmation for the time being.

    The advice includes the suggestion of sitting back and waiting.

    What happens if the move backfires and all records are suspended.

    Boom, boom, boom. All your records are lost. How do you get the info back? How do you do it quickly?

    It seems businesses are again at the mercy of Google’s methodology, and in that visibility w/in Maps has become so significantly used by the public…businesses are vulnerable to Google’s whims.

    Come on Big G. Get on the ball. Good work on explaining how to correct records. Now assist people on getting this done quickly.

  2. Wait a minute! I can’t join you in giving kudos for an instruction like “sit tight for a couple of weeks.” Until when? Until what happens? What??? How do I know when the ‘couple of weeks’ is over? Is this literally 14 days, 10 days, 17 days? Will there be some change in my record, some mystical sign I will suddenly perceive?

    Sorry, Mike, but we’re still in vague land with this as far as I can see, though steps are being outlined.

    BTW, hello there. Great to see a post from you. It’s been a little while.

  3. @Miriam

    “sit tight for a couple of weeks.” – Thats an engineering phrase …. so you English majors might have trouble with it. 🙂

    Hey the whole process is counterintuitive…sending the extra listings back into Maps to remove them is the opposite of what one might think. I used to think that you wanted to have 1 active and suspend the balance.

    It would make sense to claim them and then be given a merge function in the LBC. Once merged the extra copy would disappear from the main part of your LBC. Gosh it might even include clues where it came from so you could track down any erroneous data.

    That being said the description is significantly more authoritative than the previous description.

    Mike

  4. @Miriam

    I wonder what happens if after you “Remove this listing from the Local Business Center account” and it goes, even if briefly into the general pool and someone community edits it in such a way that it doesn’t get merged?

  5. I hadn’t even thought of that, Mike (the community edit). Wonder if Google has.

    I agree, the new directions are clearer than what was there before. It still seems to me like the languages is intentionally vague. Why the lack of clarity and transparency? Ho hum…just one of those chronic frustrations with Google’s way of doing business, I guess.

  6. Just in case someone from Google reads the comments in this post, I’ll post a list of issues I’d like to see addressed:

    I manage thousands of locations for various corporations and would love to see Google add the following features.

    1) When I download my data file, I wish Google would add a column indicating the status of the individual listing – Active; Rejected; Awaiting Next Update; Suspended; Marked for Suspension, etc.

    2) I wish we could have a new kind of upload. Currently we can add new listings (Addition), delete listings from maps but not from our account (Deletion), and completely replace our data with new data (Complete).

    I would like to be able to upload an edit file where we include the unique store identifier and only the data to be replaced. For example, if a phone number changes, we would include the id and the new phone number.

    3) Another feature that could be improved is the Deletion upload. When I upload a deletion file, the listings are removed from Maps, but they remain in my Local Business Center. So, when I download all data to synchronize it with my accurate data offline, the deleted locations are still there. That could be fixed by my suggestion #1 – the deleted listings could be marked as deleted, or it could be fixed by removing deleted listings from my Local Business Center. Currently, I have to manually select individual locations to remove them from my Local Business Center, a process which takes hours.

    4) I would also like to be able to upload images by providing a link to the image to be used.

    5) Because of the way Google gathers data about individual locations, there are many, many problems with accuracy. I would love to be able to certify my authority for specific corporations so that I can post accurate information and have the data I post take priority over the many inaccurate sources out there. Basically a trusted feed service where companies certify their data and ensure that it is accurate. That’s good for everyone.

    6) Another feature which would help bulk managers like myself is an additional sort field in the Local Business Center. Currently I can sort by “All listings” or by “Rejected/Flagged listings.” I would like to be able to sort by all states of a listing: Active; Awaiting next update; Rejected; Suspended, etc.

    I would also like to be able to sort locations in my Local Business Center by Store Code; Business; and Statistics ascending or descending to more easily be able to find a specific location to edit.

    Another feature request: In the Local Business Center, it would be very helpful to have the option to list more than 50 locations/page, just like “Preferences” in normal search.

  7. @C.J.

    Great comments, the mess that is in the listings in LBC can be overwhelming and only more so if you are dealing with thousands of listings.

    @Miriam
    English is an imprecise language, when layered over an imprecise product and a lack of documentation, clarity is not the outcome.

  8. I recently noticed that my hotel (in England) had dropped off the ‘Top 10’ list of hotels in my town, when searching on “[Town name] hotels”. For months prior to this, the hotel was consistently listed in the Top 10.

    I then realised that there is now a duplicate listing of the hotel. The result of this seems to be that Google has split my customer reviews between the two listings. I assume that this is why the hotel is no longer in the top 10 – because neither of the two listings has the requisite number of reviews to warrant a top 10 listing.

    I have now claimed the duplicate listing and carried out Google’s recommended steps 1-3 (above).

    Does anyone know whether Google is likely to merge the two listings and therefore restore my customer reviews to their original level? I don’t want to carry out Google’s step 5 (i.e. delete the duplicate), in case I permanently lose the valuable reviews attached to it.

    Any comments / thoughts are welcome.

  9. They will in fact merge them if they are identical. When that is done hopefully all of the reviews will be in one record.

    Be patient

  10. Success!

    Further to my post of May 28, I’ve just checked and my two listings have been merged into one and my customer reviews are all still there.

    Thanks for your guidance.

  11. I have a client who is listed 5 times on Google, all with different phone numbers and addresses and some very random placement of flags on the map itself.

    Looking in their LBC, I can see they have one listing but its says “Verification failed” and cannot be edited. Therefore I do not think any of the 5 listings are related to this.

    However when IO try the advice above and try to claim the other listings, it doesn’t seem to work- all I get presented with is the listing with verification failed.

    Questions:
    1) Can I delete this failed entry? (although concerned as it wants verification to delete it)
    2) How can I then claim the other 5 entries to combine them into one?

    I assume I’ll have to set up a new entry maybe? However one of the other entries has some good reviews so don’t want to lose all that goodness.

    Any help much appreciated.
    2)

    1. Google gathers their information from upstream data suppliers. Its sounds like the client has either errors or multiple entries from previous locations and or phone numbers that are still in the system.

      I would go to the sources of Google’s information and get the records cleaned up their first. Claiming the ones in Maps will be difficult unless you have access to the postal address and or phone number for the spurious listings.

      1)Get upstream data squared a away
      2)Create good verified listing
      3)Attempt to claim the spurious lisitngs (if you can verify).
      4)Change to correct information and wait for merge

  12. This is very confusing as I reclaimed one of listings i.e. I added a duplicate listing to reclaim a hijacked one last week and a couple of hours after this I saw my new advert in google maps and also my other 5 listings (using same webpage) have now dissapeared from google top 10 pack but if you click on maps you can actually see they are still in the top 10 result on that view. I’m wondering why this is happening … does google suspend all listings using same webpage if it finds a duplicate entry and is in the merge process? Its so bizarre and also I’m annoyed that my listing got hijacked in the first place!!! Any thoughts???

  13. The indexes in Maps and the main search results are separate. If you deprecated the wrong listing (ie the one with the most strength) it will take some time for its benefits to flow to the new dominant listing in the cluster.

    I would wait 4 to 6 weeks to see the final result of where you will likely stand.

    Mike

  14. How does one delete a duplicate listing thats not theirs? I have a business whose 4th on the list of business results, but one company is taking up 2 spots. IF they can delete the duplicate listing, then I’ll be on the top 3 listings and wouldn’t have to go to a click thru page to see my listing. Anyone have any thoughts?

    1. @Kate
      If the second listing has not been claimed, you can edit the listing via the community edit feature. There you can indicate to Google that they should remove the listing by virtue of it being a duplicate of another place.

      If the removal request is legitimate it can still take several months for the listing to disappear.

  15. ok fair enough about that but why does all my other listings only appear in the maps and not the google search 10 or 3 pack any more. These werent changed so not sure why they only appear in maps?

  16. yes fair comment but why did they originally appear in the google results and now all of a sudden just appear in the map index one at top? Regardless how do I get my site to be trusted by google what can I do please?

  17. What determines Google’s trust of a listing is not totally clear, but it they suspect violation of their guidelines or attempts at manipulation then it appears that they will removed from 10 pack

    Here are some possibilities that I theorized might cause a loss of trust:

    1)Only one listing per business location
    2)Listing name matches legal name
    3)Listing name matches domain registrar
    4)Phone numbers match known phone numbers
    5)Violation of the guidelines as to categorization, naming etc

  18. How about a circumstance where there are 2 duplicate listings and only one of them is found in your account while the other listing is inaccessible?

  19. Hi again Mike,

    I am having major issues with our customers that have multiple listings. I have lots of them that have more than 5 duplicate listings. I have a screenshot that I really want to email you so I can explain it to you. I just know that when we get to the 5th, sometimes 6th, sometimes 3rd Google listing, add it into the LBC, then press submit after adding it when editing the business information, it then gives me an error that says The information provided isn’t eligible for verification. So therefore, it will never merge because it won’t get validated. All 6 business read the same business name now, with same addresses and phone numbers now, with only one that is beefed up. Let me know how I can send you a screenshot. This happens with many of my customers

    Thanks,
    Maricar

  20. Here is my issue and hopefully someone can help me find an easy solution.

    I work for an assisted/senior living company who has 125+ communities across the country. Obviously this makes it difficult to claim the communities 1 by 1 through the phone/mail. So I uploaded the info to google and the updated the listings.

    Here’s the issues:
    1. Some of the information didn’t update – I.E. phone #’s, photos, websites
    2. It appears that Google is giving the Superpages listings preferential treatment above my listing info (the Superpages info is often times inaccurate, and not representative of our brand’s mission).
    3. Re-claiming each listing would be tedious and duplicate the work I’ve already done, and I don’t have faith that it would remove the innacurate information from the listings

    Here are some examples:
    search in gmaps: Atria Elizabethtown – More info (Should have website of “www.atriaelizabethtown.com,” superpages info is listed first and incorrect info)
    search in gmaps: Atria Glen Cove – More info (doesn’t list a website at all)
    The list goes on.

    What I’d like to do is have Google merge the multiple listings for all of my communities/listings in my Local Business Account, with the information I uploaded superceding any info submitted by other sources (I.E. superpages, yellowpages). Any additional information would be merged into my listing for review and editing.

    Please advise. Thanks!

    1. Not sure about easy but…

      1)Get approved under Google’s Whitelisting program so that they are verified and not open to community edits.

      2)Edit Superpage listings in community edit to mirror correctly uploaded ones in the LBC and wait for them to ulitmately merge

      3)Correct the listings at Superpages and other upstream sites so that Google is receiving consistent info

  21. Hey I appreciate the help. I figured it wouldn’t be super easy, but that seems much more consistent for our purposes.

    Can you provide the links for these tools? I think I found the comm edits you mentioned but I am having trouble finding the “Whitelisting” program.

    Thanks again for the help!

  22. Great post as this can potentially be a disaster for local companies.

    This reinforces how important it is to take control of your Internet presence – not just on Google but everywhere. Google Alert is a good way of keeping track when you have it cleaned up. Set up alerts for your address, telephone and company name.

    Thanks

  23. Just out of interest I have listed 4 different businesses for my customers one for cars, holidays, dating and coach travel and not one of them appears in google. It used to appear straight away I can see it in my local center when you click look at my listing but when I do a search for the business name or categorisation etc it is nowhere to be found. This has only started happening in past couple of weeks and not sure what the problem is. Anyone else getting this? Or could they do this to certain IP addresses etc?

  24. It is likely that time for records to go live Maps are based on Google’s industry specific trust and independent verification by them of business name, address, phone & URL. The lower the trust and the less the verifiable info the slower it is to show.

    If in the end, the listings do not pass trust muster, they don’t show. This process likely occurs at multiple levels of the LBC, Maps, Main search with the main search results requiring the highest level of confidence.

  25. I had to deal with this about 4 months back – my client had 8 different listings on google maps for his company. (he bought out 4 or 5 competitors in neighboring cities and modified their maps listing info a year or so ago before they moved out of their office. He kept their phone numbers also)

    Long story short, we wound up deleting 6 of them, leaving 1 for his main office and 1 for an office in another county. It comes down to 2 things – verification of your address through outside data providers, like InfoUSA, etc. and proper categorization of services. Of course if all your competitors are on there already, there might be a little tweaking here and there to push yourself into the spot.

    He now appears for his 3 BIG keyword search queries – and gets around 100 visits per week from just that maps listing during his peak months.

  26. I wish the merged listings in your LBC would disappear once merged. I don’t like the claiming, merging & deleting. It would make sense that once they have merged then Google just lists one in your LBC.

    Nonetheless, this is so common. I almost never have a client where at some point I don’t have to do a merge. Crazy! What does that say in itself!

  27. So I’ve gone into the LBC and claimed all my duplicated listings. I’ve stripped down all the spurious listings to just the basic information and left my main listing with all the pictures, reviews, videos, etc. It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve done this. How can I tell if the listings have “merged”? Do I just now go into the LBC and remove the duplicate listings?

    My main listing has 34 reviews, one duplicate has 15. I want these two to merge. Are they merged once my reviews eqaul 49? Or do I have to remove the one with 15 reviews from my LBC account? Here are my listings…

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=az+bounce+pro&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hl=en&hq=bounce+pro&hnear=Arizona&ll=33.893217,-111.785889&spn=0.905094,2.546082&z=9

  28. @Nate

    Sorry for the late reply. You can tell that the listings have merged when the statistitics (impressions and views) are exactly the same.

  29. We’ve got a client with two sites, that need two separate listings on Google but share the same web address. It seems Google has decided to merge the two into one listing so although they show on the map individually when you click on either you get the same amalgamated info box with the incorrect address details.

    Is there any way of preventing this? Would independent URLs re-directing to main site be a solution? Can listings be split if details are changed?

  30. @Mike

    Thanks Mike. I am patiently waiting for this to happen. It’s been about 3 weeks, so hopefully soon!

  31. You have NO idea how glad I am to find this post and all the comments. Glad I’m not the only one that has a problem and SO thankful Mike has the answers!

    I have a client with all kinds of problems. Chiropractic practice that has numerous LBC listings – none of them claimed – under various iterations of the practice name. (XYZ Medical Center, XYZ Chiropractic, Dr. XYZ, etc.) Then they also have various iterations of the practice name of course all over the place in the upstream data provider listings. None of the names are the exact practice name (XYZ Medical & Chiropractic) and some listing have different phone numbers.

    I coined a phrase – feel free to use it. In trying to explain this all to the Chiropractors I told them they had a “FRACTURED business identity” on the web. They laughed and said – “why are we talking to you then, sounds like we need to call in the ortho specialist!”

    So anyway, now I have a better idea how to try to fix this mess for them. Thanks again, Mike!

  32. Mike, do we know if using a cell number that has the local area code as our business number is any kind of a problem for google ranking?

    1. @Patrick

      I have used a cell phone and it didn’t have any impact on ranking. My gut says there won’t be if there are enough other signals.

      Certainly there is a trust factor that will likely force you to post card verification and possible dupes in the index later on.

      Google certainly knows which phones are landlines, cell, business lines and home as to exactly how they use it, is unclear.

  33. Yes the post card is a problem, what if you start with a landline and get phone verification, then change telephone number to cell number is that a hard hit when google see’s that?

  34. @Patrick

    Same deal, if you change the phone number, Google is likely to want to post card verify. It is obviously intended to keep spam and bogus listings out of the system.

  35. Hi, I’m working with a client who has two listings and both of them are verified. The problem is that they have absolutely no clue who verified them and do not have access to them (I’ve tried every single account they can think of). One of the listings is a for a store that they have closed and I need to delete it. I really would like to have control of both locations, however since they have already been verified I have no clue how to go about this. Please help.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. There is little to be done other than create new, verified, accurate listing of the current business. On the closed business you can only use the “report a problem” link if you can’t locate the LBC account

  36. Mike, Thank You for your knowlwedge
    I have another question about phone numbers, if you use a land line at your home as your phone number, but your office address that you input into google places/ google local business has a different number or numbers is that a issue?

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