Google Places: Another Reason to Move to Canada; Duplicate Listing Removal

I can think of several reasons one might want to move to Canada: they have single payer health care that every citizen receives and they usually are not using unmanned drones to shoot people in Pakistan and Yemen. I have found a third reason: the duplicate removal procedure in Google Places.

In the U.S., the current duplicate removal procedure is to use the “Report a Problem” link at the bottom of the Places page of the duplicate. It would be wonderful if it worked but the process now is to “Report a Problem”, pray aggressively, wait 8 weeks and then try again. It is an endless cycle of frustration that as often as not does not result in the removal of the dupe.

It appears though, that in Canada, where the “Report a Problem” link doesn’t exist, Google suggests that “since Report a Problem is not live in Canada, the user should go ahead and claim the listing to remove it”. Once again they can use of the “claim the dupe, strip any enhanced content, wait for the merge, delete the listing from Places” procedure.

This is a process that actually works. It is a process that many in the US have reverted to using because the “Report a Problem” link doesn’t work.

Maybe we should once again start a campaign to make Canada the 51st state. We could end up with a single payer health care AND a dupe removal process that works…

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Places: Another Reason to Move to Canada; Duplicate Listing Removal by

28 thoughts on “Google Places: Another Reason to Move to Canada; Duplicate Listing Removal”

  1. I think it may have something to do with the fact that Yellow Pages Group in Canada is the sole provider of listings for Canadian Google places. YPG -www.ypg.com – does not allow duplicate listings to be printed in Directories across Canada, therefore it is unlikely for dupes to appear.

    (LOL at your humorous comments. I live in Canada)

  2. I’ve just had all my reviews taken off my listing, I think it’s something to do with the hreview markup I just put on my website – basically I changed the “guestbook” section to hreview mark up and a few days later all my reviews have dissapeared!!!!!!

  3. @Bob
    Thanks

    @John
    Google has been having massive problems with both Google reviews missing as well as reviews of 3rd party review sites… whether that is a function of the many updates they have done or whether there is some new review of reviews algo in place that punishes fake reviews or both is unclear.

    It is incredibly unlikely that your use of hReview to mark up your testimonial and Google’s actions are in any way related.

  4. WooHOO!!!! @Mike wants to make us the 51st State!!

    er…wait…will that mean that our beer will disappear…hmmmm….

    LOL!

    that all said, yes, this procedure does work at least it did back in mid-October for a client of ours…at least they claim it did and we do see the changes….so far anyways….

    and reviews? g.ca still shows ALL of our various client ones….and yes, sigh…it still shows all the spammy ones in various channels like car dealerships, plumbers and lawyers too….

    dunno “when” G will address this…but hopefully soon, eh!

    :-)

    Jim

  5. Mike,
    I think you’ve got it backwards. Let’s not make Canada our 51st state. Let’s have Canada make us their new province. I would vote for this. For one thing, we’d get more ice skating rinks. Just the other day I read that while Canada has the population of California, it has 3000 ice rinks. That’s so awesome!

    Jim, do you think you could talk to some officials about this?

  6. Mike,
    I was so excited that I would not have to go through the original duplicate removal process (claim the listing, wait for merge, delete) once Google came out with “Report a Problem.” Until, that is, I tried to use “Report a Problem” for several of our customers. Not one duplicate has been removed with this process. With one client, I even had a NEW, MISSPELLED business name (Bolulder Auto instead of Bolder Auto) appear after reporting the problem of the duplicate listing. Reporting that problem has not fixed that issue either.

    Anyway, I am all for the Canadian merger!! Bring it on….

  7. Claiming, merging, then deleting duplicates works, but can be risky. Make sure to delete the damn things as soon as you’re sure they’ve merged. Keeping dups in your account for too long can get you penalized where G thinks you’re the one creating the un-needed dups like a spammer would.

    And yeah, Canada kinda rocks. But we tend not to brag about it too much.

  8. I’m happy to report that the Report a Problem procedure works in New Zealand as well. At least it did for me last month after a wait of only 14 days or so. Could it be that this was orchestrated by Google’s NZ office and being a small jurisdiction they don’t have the massive backlog found in bigger markets?

  9. I can totally relate to the beer conversation having consumed several Moosehead Lager Special Edition’s this past Saturday…

    Anyway, what would be a safe time to delete the duplicate listing after claiming it?

    Claim them, strip them down to 1 category, remove the desciption, no hours etc?

    –Dennis
    ps Conan is rocking out w/Jack White

  10. @Dennis,

    I’ve not done a merge in a while, but it generally takes a couple, or few, weeks for the merge to happen. Log into the account every few days and look. Once the reported impression and action stats for each listing are identical you know the merge has happened. Then go and delete. Use the remove from this account option, not the remove from Google maps option when deleting. Doing the remove from maps, once merged, could cause problems with the listing you wanted to keep.

  11. Being the humble Canadian that I am, I still must protest at becoming a Yank. I have enough trouble getting around Canada with the lack of JOAN GO THIS WAY signs. In the states it’s even worse! ACK.

    And yes, the beer would be watered down til it was almost unrecognizable & then the football and well ya’ll have already pretty much taken over the hockey….

    However; on the topic of dup listings… Canada still has it’s challenges. I’ve tried and tried and tried with one of our clients with a errand listing in Fort Saskatechawan AB, to rid them of that pesky listing, but to no avail. I claimed that listing it wasn’t a dup, but it had wrong info. So rather than make a new one, I thought EDIT !! It didn’t work. I have done it three separate times and it’s hasn’t changed at all.

    As for deleting dups in Canada – I like the fact we claim then empty. I have yet to see it work at any rate of knotts… but there you go.
    I ususally do the same for the US listings. I gave up on Report A Problem about a week after it came out.
    I guess I’m not trusting enough. Eh?

    J

  12. Mike:

    I strongly suspect that Google Places Personnel read through this blog. I hope they pay attention to this comment.

    Mike: Thanks for updating on this issue. I have an account in the US with 2 duplicate listings. I left them alone far too long. The main listing was strong and the dups didn’t interfere for virtually all searches.

    Over time at least one dup has gained strength while the main listing has weakened. I reported a problem MANY TIMES. I reported it as a duplicate REPEATEDLY. NOTHING HAPPENED .

    I looked to remove the dups around the time the report a problem methodology became the preferred method and the removal process in the US was changed from that which still exists in Canada and elsewhere. That was many months ago!!! Many months.

    Since that time the account has suffered from the “phantom duplicate” account–in which exact duplicates were being shown (BOTH WITH TAGS).

    The listing recently lost 10 of 13 reviews on Google–All from other/outside review sources–(even a negative one placed on Yelp (which we believe was planted by a competitor)).

    I repeat–the original and claimed listing has simply lost strength. It appears that the dup is gaining strength. The cluster algo seems to be spreading strength amongst records over time.

    Its as if the cluster algo is gradually weakening the record. This is all occurring during a period in which Google has told us to…..

    Report a Problem Who cares if you report a problem endlessly and it is never corrected.

    The combination of repeated algo problems within the cluster–and a current Google methodology for dup removal that is simply ignored by Google is a waste of time and a problem for us and consumers.

    We have customers finding the wrong address through the dup record. Its interesting…..the situation is worse than it was. While the repeated reports that state it is a dup listing have not been responded to….on a different approach….after additional repeated efforts…..the dup listing now states.. “This Place is Permantly Closed” Followed by a link asking if this is true or not.

    OMG. Google not only hasn’t removed the dup via its suggested method…but it has worsened the problem in two horrible ways:

    1. The dup listing gets stronger and shows more often
    2. The dup listing states that the business is permantly closed.

    What could be worse?

    (on a side note a couple of years I tried to assist a business wherein old, and inaccurate address information was showing in a prominent “plus box”. Repeatedly customers were driving to a wrong address. Unanimously customers who were lost and misdirected blamed it on Google. What was ironic and problematic about that issue was that after reporting the problem in the Google forums a Google employee said they would address the problem……..

    NINE months followed. No Google employee ever addressed the problem despite the promise in the Google forum. (oh yeah….babies were conceived and born during that time period).

    Somehow, the plusbox issue was corrected across the board. I recall, outsiders such as yourself making signals that you had discovered the issue and problem and were going to announce it.)

    Meanwhile over 9 months many customers simply got lost based on Google’s misinformation—and it never did get back to that business as it had promised.)

    (END DIGRESSION)

    (BACK TO CURRENT ISSUE)

    An actual places link for the real business; the singular accurate places page is:

    http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&gl=us&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=bartending+school&fb=1&gl=us&hq=bartending+school&hnear=Arlington,+VA&cid=4951708620084155678&ei=

    The business is the Professional Bartending School 2440 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va. 22201.

    The dup record….which represents an address from which we relocated 6 years ago is:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&expIds=17259,18168,24472,25907,26637,27147,27404,27459&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=Professional+bartending+school+arlington+va&cp=13&qe

    (To add misery to this situation….Google is now reporting that the place is closed)–woe to us and consumers that might land on that record…In fact worse than the business that had Google send people to the wrong address for 9 months)

    I know Google employees read these blog pieces. I know these pieces get wide exposure.

    Our base record uses the actual business name. We don’t have spammy geographical names in the category section or elsewhere. We don’t use long tail phrases in a name or elsewhere. In the last 1.5 years we put tremendous energy into running and improving the business as to credibility. The business reports more graduates getting more jobs than any such business in the nation; dramatically more. We have dramatically enhanced the business operations to completely fulfill what consumers want. Its working better than ever.

    Its unfortunate that during this period we are subject to a combination of a crazy algo….and a Google methodology that simply gets ignored. Consequently less consumers get to see the information in which they are deeply interested.

    It seems to me that Google is simply CREATING PROBLEMS FOR ITSELF…and making things worse for businesses

    1. It has an algo with bugs that creates problems with duplicate listings.

    2. It installed a “method” for removing dups….AND Google doesn’t use the method

    Dups get worse/Google receives more complaints/Businesses suffer/More people become aware that Google’s power over smb’s is unmatched/Outside elements want to challenge Google’s monopolistic control over web visibility

    (hope Marissa Mayer takes note of these issues)

    Again, Mike. Thanks for highlighting this topic.

    I’m going to report the dups a couple of more times than I’m using the method available in Canada and elsewhere which seems to work.

  13. So basically what you’re saying is that it’s easy to hijack listings and make them your own? This is terrible! It seems like Google is all about making a good thing and then they just forget about it and focus on new features and monetizing it. I just don’t understand them!

  14. I’m sorry, Mike. I didn’t read the post correctly. Are you talking about businesses claiming a duplicate of their own listing? I didn’t mean to imply that you’re telling people to spam.

    Still, where is the Google web spam team? It’s like they don’t even exist anymore. I’m just so disillusioned with reviews anymore and now with the new local search being front and center, it seems like the problem is only going to get worse.

  15. @Rocky

    Yes we are talking about how to rid Google of duplicates of your own business. The process is to use the “Report a Problem” button… it sucks. The old process was to “Claim the listing and wait for a merge and then release”… it sucks but a little less.

    I have learned to take a more Zen like approach to Google….. I can’t control them, they do what they do (often bizarrely) and all I can do is go along for the ride….

  16. New client today with 2 listings, old address & new address of 2+ years, same phone # in both old & new.

    I’ve phone verified both and each show statistics with the newer showing a few more. I’ve optimized the newer and minimized the older one. Old listing did not contain Inc, new one does and left both names as is.

    Any guesses? or Beer bets?

    –Dennis

  17. I have a unique situation that google does not address, and I am not sure if I can report and wait, or if I need to merge an delete, but:

    I have two places for the same business that are both claimed.. but on different google accounts. At this moment, while they are the same business, they have different titles and different websites, but the same phone number. My citations have been split up relatively even between the two places. They are both verified.

    I have done the report and wait approach, and have waited for a few weeks. My concern is that google will ignore my requests because both listings are claimed, but they are in different google accounts… At the same time, I am hesitant to delete, because I do not want to lose the citations unless I have to.

    So I am sitting and waiting in a holding pattern, not wanting to screw anything up! Anybody have any ideas?

    Thanks
    Christian

  18. @Chris

    It is unlikely, since both are claimed that the Report a Problem will work. But having both claimed they will still merge. I would make all of the primary information (name, address, phone, web) identical and strip the least important listing of any enhanced information (everything not required like photos etc) and then wait for the two stats to become the same. That indicates a merge. Once that is done, immediately release the least important back in to the index.

    It should take about 4 weeks.

  19. Hi Mike:

    Thanks for the help. I believe my listings have merged. To “release the least important one back into the index”, is that the same as clicking on “delete -> 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.”?

    I believe they have merged, but it is odd… both accounts “show” as exactly the same, and have for a week. But once I log into the second account, and click “edit”, it is the same bare stripped example that i created pursuant to your suggestion… I assume I am in business, and can remove the bare bones one?

    Thanks again for all your help. I have a law firm with multiple lawyers. I tried to create a separate listing for one lawyer, and it screwed everything up.. I have seen people posting that Google allows that sort of thing, but it is not worth it.. I have been paying the piper for months because of that..

  20. Yes it is the same as clicking on “delete -> 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.”?

  21. Hi Mike
    I have just noticed a client has a duplicate listing – that hasn’t been owner verified. I can edit this listing with the owner verified login and password, suspend or this isn’t my listing options. Can I suspend this listing? What will happen? Or should I edit and try to claim it then delete? What’s the best thing to do here – Oh and this is a Canadian listing
    cheers

  22. If it is a duplicate then the best thing is to get it to merge with the main listing. This can be done in one of three ways:
    1)Report a problem and reference the main listing in the comment
    2)MapMaker and delete as a duplicate
    3)Claim in your Places Dashboard, make it exactly the same NAP as the main listing, add NO enhanced information and wait for the stats to be the same. When the are delete from the account

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