duplicate-business-listingsYou may think that Local SEO experts spend their days involved with the most complex of issues, analyzing what could possibly be the world’s fastest-moving industries and all…and you would be right on many days. However, when it comes to fixing duplicate business listings, it sometimes feels as though our world consists of the most mundane operations ever.

Duplicate Business Listings: What’s the Issue?

The local search world draws its data from the dozens of business directories, databases, and even governmental agencies, all pooling together to make your business data available on the Web. Some of the sources are user-entered info and others are data aggregators. Whatever the source of business info, it’s very common that duplicates exist because of inconsistencies across all these data sources.

The problem is, sometimes they’ve got the wrong data…whether there was a typo somewhere along the way in a source database, or your address has changed but not all the directories know about the new address. When that happens, you get duplicate entries in the directories since they think that now there is more than one instance of your business.

Sometimes it’s because your business name doesn’t match other listings, for whatever reason. Other times you’ve got a local phone number listed on one source, but an 0800 toll-free number listed elsewhere.

How Do the Directory Sites Deal With Inconsistent Data?

What do the directory sites do? They don’t stop to ask questions, that’s for sure. They simply print a duplicate listing and move on.

What do search engines do? The get incredibly confused and punish you for it by ranking your business lower or (worse) not at all. Your site could simply disappear from the rankings altogether. That means your business can be losing money.

Sometimes the directories rate the source of information: data from the Companies House is more reliable than user-submitted info, for example. They take all this into account and create a “snapshot” of your data…and that’s what will appear on their particular business listing directory.

The minute you try and correct an error with your own data, that snapshot (and all the snapshots of your listing across the web) changes next time the directory runs its algorithm.

Why Correcting Your Business Data Doesn’t Always Work

If you try and correct all the errors concerning your business info online, you’ll have a few issues at hand.

  1. it’s incredibly time-consuming and horribly annoying work, as well
  2. if you miss even just one source of info, the error from that source will keep popping its head up, causing sites to publish duplicates again and again, in a vicious circle. So if you don’t fix every last error, the problem will grow back like a weed.
  3. some errors are easier to fix than others. If you decide to go this route, plan for a huge project, because that’s what it is!

Take a look at the state of affairs for your business in the local search results. Then go to some of the directories and examine your data- chances are you’ll find something that needs fixing.

 

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