Duplicate listings can very easily turn into the plague of the online marketing of every local business. They not only often feature old or incorrect and misleading information, but could also potentially “transmit” this information to other sites, thus spreading it throughout the whole ecosystem and ultimately reaching Google’s local data cluster, which could be devastating for business’s local search rankings. Unfortunately, getting rid of such duplicates has proven to be more difficult than any other process related to local listings – adding, claiming, or editing them. Additionally, there is currently no automated service that deals with this problem, so manual clean-up is the only way to go.
Why removing duplicates is so difficult?
There are a few main reasons for this:
1) Making it easy for people and businesses to remove listings from a business directory could very easily backfire and cause the loss of data that has been paid for. Therefore, it is not of the websites’ own interest to offer such a service.
2) Many business directories lack the technology to solve complicated problems with business data and prefer to ignore them rather than invest into trying to fix them (Google itself is an example of a company that has been ignoring the importance and complexity of the problem for way too long).
3) While websites might lack the technology to solve the problem with duplicate listings, they might also lack the human resources to maintain the process via some sort of customer service.
These, together with the fact that many websites are left without (almost) any editorial backing make the process tedious and frustrating. I myself am dealing with it daily and I have a list of good practices for removing duplicate listings on a number of the most important business directories on the web and as I know many others share the same burden I am sharing a few tips here.
Which websites am I covering here and why?
I will definitely not cover the whole list of business directories (note: this article covers predominantly US business directories), but just the ones I consider to be of the highest importance and at the same time have a rather troublesome process of listings removal, plus the ones where I normally find the highest numbers of duplicate listings.
The site is notorious for the problems it causes to businesses when they want to remove their listings, usually for the purpose of getting their negative reviews gone, too. In the majority of the cases the answer coming from Yelp is “No”. However, there is a mechanism to get this done in the cases when the listing is a duplicate. You simply have to go to the contact form and choose “Duplicate business listing” from the drop-down menu. After this you’d need to use the search option to locate the two listings – the original one you’d want to keep, and the duplicate one and select them. Normally these get solved within 1-2 weeks.
The site, while hosting one of the largest business databases, has no official system for getting duplicates removed. The fastest way to deal with the problem would be to send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, answers are not regular and frequent, so it might take some time and a few attempts to get this done. Another way, which is unofficial and might take you to a sales agent rather than to the desired destination (hopefully a customer service rep or a tech), is to call the company’s phone number 800-611-4827.
Similarly to Citysearch, Superpages does not have a system in place to get duplicate listings removed. The best way I’ve found to get this resolved is by calling the customer service phone number: 800-428-8722.
Yahoo’s mechanism is pretty clear when it comes to listing removal (unlike the mechanism for getting a listing verified). You have to go to the Local Listing Removal Request Form, choose “Business Moved” from the drop-down menu, and fill in the form. Then it usually takes about 2-4 weeks for the listings to be taken down.
The process is again rather simple (once you discover where to start, of course): simply go to the Report an Issue page, tick “Business Listing/Location Issue” and describe the problem in the box at the bottom.
To get a listing “closed” you’d first need to verify your ownership over it. After you are done with that, you’d need to go to the “Manage Listings” dashboard and under “More Actions”, click on “Close Listing”:
This one is a bit more complicated. You’d need to locate the duplicate listing and click on “Help us make it right” at the bottom of the page (note that you’d first need to register to the website, because you will be practically sending a user edit). On the next page, scroll to the bottom and click on “Submit corrections” and a window will be prompted asking if you are the business owner. Answer with a “No”. At the next page choose “Duplicate” from the drop-down and in “Reason for change” box fill in the URL to the original, correct listing.
This is my “favorite” in terms of number of duplicate listings. This is one of the reasons why I was so amazed to see it topping this research by Yext. The mechanism for removing those is, however, relatively easy. You have to go to the Remove a Business Listing, search for the duplicate(s), and after this simply mark them and send them for deletion. All this seems fine, but unfortunately, according to my experience the site is very slow at taking action on these reports and at the same time they are virtually unreachable via phone or email.
The mechanism for removing a listing is very well outlined in the FAQ of the site, so I will just cite it here:
“If you do want to leave though, login and click on ‘My account’ once you’ve logged into the dashboard. From there click on ‘Remove your free profile’ and follow the instructions.”
Therefore, you’d need to first have the listing claimed before being able to delete it.
The site does not have a system in place for removing duplicates, but calling customer service at 877-416-2378 and looking for Denise has proven to be a very nice and easy way to solve one’s problems.
Ones I haven’t Discovered Solution for
Besides these there are a couple of more websites, which often feature incorrect duplicate listings – Citysquares.com and GetFave.com. Unfortunately, my attempts to find a solution to this problem have always failed up to now. It appears that the easiest way to get this issue fixed is by simply editing the duplicate(s), including the correct information in each of them.
Have you had problems with removing a listing from some of these websites, or from other ones? Have you solved them in some more effective ways?
*Note: Our Citation Building Guide features more information, tips, and tactics on how to deal with duplicate listings and data consistency.