Duplicate Listing Issues
Let's start with a quick definition. When a local business has more than one listing for a single physical location in an online directory, these other listings are considered duplicates. A variety of negative outcomes can arise from the presence of duplicate listings, detracting from your local business's ability to rank well and win customers.
The Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines speak in very plain language about the number of listings your business can have:
Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.
There are some exceptions to this, as in the case of multi-partner legal firms or multi-practitioner medical offices, but in most cases, failure to comply with the above rule may result in any or all of the following:
In the duplicate listing scenario, you never know which of your listings will outrank the others. You may end up with a highly visible listing with an outdated address, a wrong phone number or other issues showing up for your searches instead of your approved, authoritative listing. New customers may be misdirected by the bad data, causing you to lose business.
Your review equity may be split up amongst the different listings. Instead of having a single profile with 20 great reviews, you may have one listing with five reviews and another with 15. If the listing with only five reviews is the one that shows up, the great reputation you are building will be invisible to your potential customers.
Major search engines like Google will not know which of your listings to trust, whether within their own index or within other indexes they rely on for data. You always want to send a single, clear signal about your business to the search engines from each place it is listed.
Because of the way that data is fed from one local business index to another on the Internet, even one duplicate listing with bad data can be replicated across multiple platforms. Old listings with incorrect information can end up creating new listings with duplicated errors.
Management of a single listing on a variety of platforms can be challenging enough. If your business needs to update information, you may end up editing the wrong listings if they are duplicates. Your changes may never appear live because you are not editing the listing the search engine or index has decided is most authoritative for your business.
Duplicate listings are not always your fault! While some local business owners may intentionally create more than one listing for a physical location because they mistakenly believe it will help their rankings, very often, duplicates may arise out of automated activity on the part of search engines or directories. But, regardless of how duplicate listings are created, it is always a best practice to try to get them removed.