Duplicate listings are one of the biggest negative ranking factors in Local SEO. Knowing if your business has duplicates out there that need to be resolved is very important for ranking success in the 3-pack. Often, duplicate listings get overlooked because they are so hard to find. This article will go through the process I use to discover duplicates and organize them so they don’t have a negative impact on ranking.
For this example, we’ll be using a plastic surgery business in Phoenix, AZ: Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery.
(Disclaimer: This business is not a client of mine, but rather the client of a professional connection of mine at another agency. I have used this example with their permission.)
Going through the steps above, I was able to identify three separate listings for Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery. One was a listing for the practice itself, and two were listings for individual doctors within the practice.
Now that you have your list of duplicates, here are some best practices for how to handle them:
General Best Practices For Cleaning Up Your Listings
The business name should follow Google’s guidelines and should not contain any keyword stuffing. Any phone numbers listed on Google should match what’s on the website. In the example above, there was a phone number on the two doctor listings which is not present on the website footer or contact page. This is problematic.
The street address should be formatted properly and, like the phone number, should also be consistent across all professional listings. In this example, one of the doctors didn’t have the street number on his listing, which is a problem.
Suite numbers are not necessary and don’t seem to impact ranking much. It’s usually best for the user if you include it, but if the listings don’t all have the suite number, it’s not a problem worth stressing over. The city and ZIP code, on the other hand, should absolutely be present (and the same) across all listings. If it’s not, you should investigate why Google Maps isn’t sure about the city.
Usually, it’s best if you don’t overlap categories whenever possible. You should use the least amount of categories possible on the listings you are trying to minimize. Don’t ever use categories if they don’t actually apply to the business. Always remember to look at what categories competitors are using to see if you are forgetting/missing any that apply.
Controlling Which Listing Ranks Among Many Duplicates
Professional/practitioner listings are not considered duplicates, and Google will not remove them. You should pick which one you want to rank (ideally, the one with the most/best reviews) and minimize the others. You don’t want these competing against each other.
If you want to control which listing Google shows in the 3-pack, you should be very careful about what website URL you use on each listing. You want to use the strongest URL on the listing you want Google to rank.
In this example, we most likely want the practice listing (rather than the individual doctor listings) to rank. In order to achieve that, we should be linking it to the homepage, since that is what ranks highest organically for “plastic surgeon phoenix.” It would be best if the two doctor listings linked to a weaker page, such as http://www.mosharrafa.com/about/.
Currently, one of the doctor listings goes to http://experiencethebestofyou.com/, which is actually a forwarding URL (301 redirect) which is against Google’s guidelines and can result in the page getting suspended.
Best Practices For Handling Technical Issues
Now that the duplicate research is done, the next phase is to start hammering away at the issues you discovered along with all the other factors that influence ranking in Local SEO.
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