Google Maps: New Guidelines for Dealing with Multiple Listings & Duplicate Listing Removal

Barry at SEORountable has just posted that Google is changing their recommended practice for removing duplicate listings of your business from Maps.

Here are the new guidelines from the Google Places Help (bolds in body are mine):

Duplicate listings for my business

Duplicates listings for a single business are often issues in both Google Maps search results as well as within a user’s account. Since there should only be one listing per business represented in one’s account and on Maps, we recommend the steps below to rectify the duplicates.

Do multiple results for your business appear in Google Maps search results

If so, you can fix it by following these steps:

  1. Make sure you’ve claimed one of the listings in Google Places. Verify that there’s only one active listing in your account by logging in to your Google Places account.
    1. If there’s more than one listing in your account for the same business, you’ll first need to fix that problem by following the steps in the section below.
    2. If you don’t have a listing for it at all, you should claim your business.
  2. For every extra result for your business, go to its Place Page, click the Report A Problem link, and select “Place has another listing”. If you can, include a link to your claimed place page in the comments section.
  3. Google will review these reports and fix duplicate business listings.

Are there multiple listings in your Google Places account for the same business location?

When you log in to your Google Places account, if you have multiple listings for the same location, that can be a violation of the content guidelines. You should avoid having duplicates in your account. Here’s how to ensure you have only one listing per business location:

  1. Choose the listing that you’d prefer to keep in your account.
    1. Make sure that you have all your enhanced content (photos, business hours, description) attached to this listing.
    2. Make sure that its status is “active”.
  2. Delete all other listings for the same business from your account. Choose the “Remove this listing from my Google Places account” option
  3. These changes can take several weeks to appear in search results
  4. If there are multiple results for your business in Google’s search results, follow the instructions above.

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Google’s new recommended practice for removing duplicates are in strong contrast to the duplicate removal methods previously recommended by them.

Obviously, Google is attempting to make a clear statement that having multiple listings in your account, even if they are there from having following the de-duping process and carry exactly the same information, you run the risk of some violation. It seems clear from this communication that having multiples even for the benign reason of not wanting to risk weird Map behaviors if selected the “delete” option that Google will ,at some point if not already, impose a penalty. Hopefully Google will provide some reasonable window to allow those accounts with listings that are duplicates for benign reasons, some time to adjust their listings.

Given the vagaries and problems that people have experienced in “delete” behaviors and the absolutely terrible wording of the options it is incumbent on Google to both reword and perhaps rework the process & language within the Places Management area. The wrong step and all of your listings are suspended. The correct step seems counterintuitive and have left users feeling that they now have more listings than before.

The change makes sense of an otherwise confusing aspect of Google’s technology, their clustering behavior. How long it will take for a dupe to be removed remains to be seen. Hopefully Google will invest the minimal resources necessary to fix the atrocious interface that is currently associated with the “delete” option.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: New Guidelines for Dealing with Multiple Listings & Duplicate Listing Removal by

17 thoughts on “Google Maps: New Guidelines for Dealing with Multiple Listings & Duplicate Listing Removal”

  1. In light of how duplicates can occur “naturally” the new guidelines, and, in particular, the penalties, seem rather silly.

    Much like the new rules and penalties on re-using category keywords within your listing text, it’s like Google wants to punish everybody, spammer or not, for the shortcomings of its own algorithm and clustering technology rather than improve the system from within. I’ve been seeing the threads in the help forums from baffled people with suspended accounts as well as dealing with a client that got the “we currently do not support this location” penalty. Imagine the numbers of confused small business owners that don’t even find their way to the help forums.

    Is there something about the month of May that is turning Places into a gong show? Google’s cutbacks on free meals for employees must be turning the Places team into grumpy tyrants or something.

  2. Question?

    In November 2009 I battled the duplicate listing issue for a client I have. I was successful in claiming BOTH listings, then I suspended 1 of the listings in my Google Places Dashboard.

    The site currently ranks fairly well for targeted keywords right now.

    My question is…..

    Both the Suspended and active listing show up in Google Places account, if I click to “Delete” the suspended listing the next screen says

    Remove this listing from my Google Places account.
    Select this option if you mistakenly associated the listing with your account. This listing may continue to display on Google Maps if provided by other sources.

    Since the other sources (Iyp, InfoUSA, Anxiom etc) may or may not be up to date as quickly then it is possible this listing could re-appear as duplicate.

    I am hesitant to Delete the listing as I rank well, I will try deleting the listing however if I notice a penalty due to the new Duplicate listing guidelines

  3. So we are no longer dealing with the ‘wait 2 weeks’ thing? This is big news, and I wish I had heard it 3 days ago before I started a wait 2 weeks thing for a new client. Arggg.

  4. @Miriam

    Actually it could be wait 3 weeks…it depends on the staff that they are assigning to the case. There is no telling at this point how long it will take.

    And the new,big problem is you won’t be notified in any way that the merge has taken place. It won’t be as easy as the occasional look,see in your LBC.

  5. Hi Again, Mike,
    When I said wait 2 weeks I was referring to the practice of deleting everything from a listing but the address/phone/title, and then waiting two weeks to finally delete the listing, as was indicated by Google. It looks like this is now no longer necessary, correct? But what is this about 3 weeks?

  6. Yes I understood that. The practice that Google suggests, if it involves staff intervention could take that long or longer (thus the 3 week guess)….but it will in affect be blind to the business. They will have to go in and search out the record, find the right one, and guess what actually has been done to it.

    So while the process is “simpler” there is no visible accountability nor exact timeframe for its resolution.

    My thinking is that in the end, it will make the process easier to do but more difficult to track

  7. I understand the need to remove duplicate listings in locals or google places, however, what if my business has multiple locations? How do we handle that?

    Most recently, Google has removed on its own one of my listings. I am an attorney with multiple offices throughout So. California.

    Now, as opposed to my three offices showing up, I only have one – how does one handle this scenario?

  8. Hi Mike,

    I had sought your help with multiple listings way back when for a hotel client. There were so many random listings out there, and every time I tried to verify one, Google would create another one. I finally was able to verify all and create each one with the exact same info. In total I believe I had 16 listings, which Google combined on their end in maps / 7 pack into one, but the 16 remained in my LBC / GP account. Well now my account is suspended, and my only option is to request a review. The request is a joke as they merely tell me that I have multiple listings. I know I do, but I can’t gain access to consolidate now. The merry-go-round continues with no hope of being able to log back in. My only consolation is that the hotel listing is still visible in maps. Of course I expect this to be deleted eventually since I can’t login to fix the multiple listings problem. It is nice to see Google taking a shot at fixing this wide spread issue, but not being allowed the option to fix the issue for legitimate listings is soul crushing for those that finally got LBC to work correctly.

    Lauren

  9. Hi Mike,

    Hope you’re well…Can I please clarify to process for duplicate listings? It used to be that you would have to claim each duplicate listing in one LBC. You would have to beef up the one you wanted to keep which would be the one that had the reviews, pictures, etc….all of the other duplicates, you would have to make them all have the same exact basic information, but strip out the rest. So, we no longer do this if there are duplicates? From some of the explanations, am I understanding correctly that you claim the one listing you want to keep, then report a problem with all of the other duplicates so we don’t have to go through the merging ourselves? Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

    Thank you so much!

  10. What confuses me is it sounds like some people have had actual real results (or should i say luck?) in removing duplicates. I’ve been fighting a duplicate for a year now and can’t get it removed. I sent them probably 500 “problem reports”, I’ve used the forum…i’ve tried divorcing the dang listing from my account.

    It just drives me nuts because their algorithm always uses the duplicate to update my real listing and it has more citations than my real listing and has screwed up my rankings.

  11. @Stephen

    The best bet, long haul, is to get the erroneous duplicate changed at the source so that it feeds Google the correct information. Google apparently trusts the source for this listing and thus doesn’t think that it should be eliminated.

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