Dealing With Duplicates: Google and Bing Local Listings

May 26, 2016 by BizTraffic Team

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When conducting a review of your business's online presence, you might find that your business has multiple listings on Google+ or Bing Places.

At first this might seem like a good thing - more listings means more SEO juice and a greater chance of being seen, right?

Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. Having multiple listings is bad for SEO, bad for your customers, and bad for your business.

Why Does My Business Need to Be on Google+ or Bing Places?

Your business absolutely needs Google+ and Bing Places listings. If you have multiple locations, then you need an individual listing for each location on each platform. Both of these sites are crucial to your company’s online presence.

There are two basic reasons for this. First, listing your company on these platforms helps search engines find information about your business. Second, it helps your customers find your business.

But having duplicate listings on these platforms can confuse search engines and your customers.

Listing your business in Google+ and Bing Places provides search engines with the information they display on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), and making sure your business is listed properly on these platforms improves your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

It’s not all about search engines and SEO, however. People looking for your business use these sites to connect with your business, learn your location and phone number, see reviews, and get directions (among other things).

Making sure your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) info is correct on these sites will help your customers find you on and offline.

For a more complete explanation of the importance of NAP info and listing directories, read this blog.

Duplicate Listings Hurt Your Business

Duplicate Bing and Google Plus Listings

When your business has multiple locations listed, the chances are good that there is incorrect info somewhere on one or more of these listings. This incorrect info is hurting your SEO and SERP ranking.

When there are multiple listings for your business that have incorrect NAP info, search engines get confused about which listing is correct. This can lead to incorrect info being listed about your business on a search engine.

Customers can be provided with the wrong phone number or wrong address, or any of the other info about your business could be wrong. Of course this is the opposite of what you want - information about your business should be both accurate and easy to find.

Duplicate Listings Hurt Your SEO

Both Google+ and Bing Places provide the opportunity for customers to leave reviews about your business. If you have duplicate listings on these sites, it becomes harder to manage these reviews.

Good reviews may be wasted on the wrong listing, or bad reviews left on the wrong listing may go unanswered. Both of these options can hurt your SEO.

Search engines use reviews as a ranking factor, so it’s important to be managing your listings and making the most of good reviews while mitigating the damage from bad ones.

Good reviews should be promoted on your website and on a SERP (using schema markup code).

Adding good customer reviews to your site adds to your credibility, letting visitors know that your product is a good choice.

Adding reviews to your SERP listing helps your listing stand out visually, making it more likely that viewers will click on it.

Alternatively, bad reviews should be answered and appropriate responses should be considered. It’s always possible to turn a bad reviewer into a loyal customer if the situation is handled correctly. In addition, spam bad reviews can be reported to Google for review.

Neither of these options is possible if you’re not monitoring the listings - something that can be made even more difficult if there are multiple versions of a listing on a platform.

The solution is simple - duplicate listings on Google+ and Bing Places should be removed or merged.

Wait, What’s the Difference Between Google+ and Google My Business?

Google Plus or Google My Business Listings

Sometimes Google doesn’t make things easy for us, so we’ll take a moment here to explain the difference between Google+ and Google My Business (GMB).

They are both the same thing - the only difference is that a business uses GMB to access their Business’s Google+ page(s) instead of going directly through Google+.

When we say Google+ we are referring to the general site, and when we say Google My Business we are referring to the access point for businesses.

Why Does Google Do This?

Google My Business provides a way for business owners to manage multiple locations or businesses through one dashboard. For someone’s personal Google+ account, they only have the one listing, so there doesn’t need to be a dashboard interface to deal with multiple locations or businesses.

It’s a little more complicated for a business that has multiple locations or a business owner with multiple businesses. Business owners (or social media management teams) needed a way to interact with every listing in one convenient place. Google My Business is that place.

So in an effort to make things easier for everybody, Google ended up confusing the heck out of us all.

Hopefully things are slightly clearer now.

How to Deal With Duplicate Google+ Listings

There are almost as many different circumstances as there are businesses, but here we’re going to discuss the most common. If you have an issue that we don’t cover here, try searching Google My Business Help and hopefully you’ll find the answer to your problem.

Of course, you can always contact us, and we’ll be happy to help you with whatever digital marketing or website related issues you have.

How to Gain Control of an Unverified GMB Listing

If you’ve found a listing for your business on Google+ that is unclaimed, then the process is fairly simple. You will have several verification options:

Get Verification Code for Google Plus Listing

  • Claim by postcard
    • Sign in to Google My Business
    • Find the business’s listing
    • Click the “Claim this business” button on the listing
    • Make sure your address is listed correctly (if it isn’t, then edit the address)
    • Click “Send postcard”
    • Wait for 5 days while an internet based company sends you snail mail
    • Sign in to Google My Business
    • Select the location (if there are multiple locations)
    • Click the “Enter code” button at the top of the page
    • Enter the 5 digit code
    • Click “Submit”
  • Claim by phone (this option may not be available)
    • Sign in to Google My Business
    • Find the business’s listing
    • Click the “Claim this business” button on the listing
    • Click “Verify now”
    • Make sure you can answer the business phone number listed on the site.
    • Click “Verify by phone” to have an automated Google message call you with a verification code
    • Enter the code from the message
  • Claim by email
    • Sign in to Google My Business
    • Find the business’s listing
    • Click the “Claim this business” button on the listing
    • Click “Verify now”
    • Click “Email”
    • Check your email
    • Click the “Verify” button in the email or enter the code from the email in Google My Business
  • Instantly verify a listing
    • If you have previously verified your business’s website with Google Search Console (you should go ahead and do this anyway), your business may qualify for this option
    • If your business qualifies and you’re signed into the correct GMB account, this may be an option available to you (not all businesses are eligible)

How to Gain Control of a GMB Listing Verified by Someone Else

Request Ownership of Listing on Google Plus

There can be many reasons for a listing for your business to be verified by someone else, from third party social media management to previous owners to shenanigans.

If you find a listing for your business that is controlled by someone else, don’t panic! Just follow these steps:

  • Sign in to Google My Business
  • Enter your business’s name and address to find the listing
  • Select your business from the results
  • Fill out the form for claiming the listing - the current listing owner may need to contact you, so sharing contact info is required here
  • Submit the form
  • You should receive a confirmation email
  • The current listing owner has 7 days to contact you (the link in the confirmation email will allow you to check on the status)
  • If you’ve not heard back in 7 days, you can verify your ownership of the business and gain control of the listing

Once you have control over the duplicate listing(s), you can then decide what action to take.

How to Merge or Delete a Duplicate GMB Listing for a Brick-and-Mortar Location

By brick-and-mortar location, we mean any business that serves customers at that location. If there are duplicate listings for your business then you can either delete the duplicates or merge them with the correct listing, depending on the circumstances.

  • If the address is an exact match
  • If the business never existed in that location (address error)
    • Delete the location
      • Sign in to Google My Business
      • Make sure you’re using List View (click this iconList View Icon Google Plus Listings )
      • Select the boxes next to the listing(s) you’d like removed
      • Click the three dot menu Menu Icon Google Plus
      • Click “Remove”
      • Review the information on the page that appears
      • Click “Delete account”
      • This won’t delete your GMB account, only the specified location(s)!
    • If the incorrect location is listed on Google Maps, go to the Maps listing and delete it
Google Maps Delete a Listing 
  • Make sure you’re signed in to Google
  • Find the location on Google Maps
  • Click “Suggest an edit”
  • Next to “Place is permanently closed or has never existed”, slide the bar to the right to remove it from Maps
  • Click “Submit”

It may be possible to transfer any reviews from the incorrect site to the correct site. Contact Google and see if your page qualifies.

  • If the listing is for a previous location
    • Update the listing, do not create a new listing and/or mark the old listing as “Permanently closed”
    • If you have already created a new listing, you should have read this blog first. After taking a few moments to recover from that mistake, you need to do one of two things:
      • Update the old address and then merge the two locations (if you want to keep the listings followers and reviews)
      • Delete either the old or the new location (follow above instructions)
    • If the old location is listed on Google Maps, delete the listing (follow above instructions)

How to Merge a Duplicate GMB Listing for a Service Area Business

If your business doesn’t serve customers at a specific location, then the process is much simpler. Once you’ve gained control over the duplicate listing(s),  contact Google to request that the listings be merged.

Click here to see our blog on knowing which type of page is right for your business.

Manage a GMB Listing Marked “Permanently Closed”

If your business has former locations listed on Google Maps that have changed locations but are marked as permanently closed, you need to take action. Permanently closed listings look bad to consumers and negatively affect SEO.

In order to remove the label:

  • Claim the listing (if the listing is already claimed by you, skip this step)
  • Remove the old location (follow instructions above in the “Brick-and-Mortar” section)
  • Contact Google and request that they mark the location as moved to the new location

How to Deal With Duplicate Bing Places Listings

Bing Places is actually much simpler to deal with, mostly because Bing has customer support that is not only accessible but is also promoted by Bing. Make sure you’re sitting down before you read this next part - Bing actually wants you to contact them!

If you need additional support, all you need to do is contact Bing and they’ll help you out! Make sure you have your business info and contact email ready before you call.

Not only do they actually want to talk to you, Bing automates the process of merging pages as well, so dealing with Bing Places duplicates is much easier.

How to Gain Control of an Unverified Bing Places Listing

Much like Google+, you’ll need to create a Microsoft account in order to access Bing Places. Once this is done all you need to do is follow these steps:

  • Sign in to Bing Places
  • Search for your business by phone number, address, and name
Bing Places Search for Listing
    • Search old numbers, addresses, and names as well to make sure you find all the listings
    • Once you’ve found your business, click “Claim Business”
    • Update or verify your business info on the next screen
    • Click “Next”
    • Verify your business’s location on the map
    • Update or enter additional information
    • Verify your business
      • Verify by email
        • Enter your email address
        • Check your email
        • Enter the verification code you received in the email in the pop-up box
      • Verify by phone
        • Enter your phone number
        • Answer your phone
        • Write down your verification code (or try to remember it before calling back)
        • Enter the verification code you received in the call in the pop-up box
      • Verify by text
        • Enter your phone number
        • Check your texts
        • Get the verification code
        • Enter the verification code you received in the text in the pop-up box
      • Verify by web
        • Bing will ask you 5 questions that only the business owner is expected to know. If you get all 5 correct, your business will be instantly verified. If you miss even one, Bing will instantly own your business (ok, that’s not really true)
      • Verify by mail
        • Enter your address (verify your address first!)
        • Wait for 3-5 days while an internet based company sends you snail mail
        • Log back in and enter the verification code

How to Merge Duplicate Bing Places Listings

Here’s where Bing really shines. Bing actually does this automatically in about 10 days. If your duplicate listings info is the same, then all you need to do is wait.

If your duplicate listings have different info, make sure the listings are claimed by you and then edit the info to match the correct listing. After that you just need to wait.

How to Delete a Bing Places Listing

Delete Bing Places Listing

Deleting is easy on Bing Places as well. All you need to do is:

  • Sign in to Bing Places
  • Select the listing you want to delete
  • Click “Delete”

Wasn’t that easy?

Conclusion

It’s important to have your business listed in Google+ and Bing Places, but it’s just as important to make sure that there is only one listing per location and that the info in that listing is correct.

Making sure your Google+ and Bing Places listings are properly curated can add SEO value to your business and it can help your customers engage with you.

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Filed Under: Business listings, local listings, Google, local search, local business, Bing