Oct 092012
 

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.

Yelp

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.

Citysearch

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 myaccount@citygridmedia.com. 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.

Superpages

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! Local

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.

MapQuest

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.

LocalEze

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”:

Yellowbot

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.

MerchantCircle

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.

HotFrog

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.

EZLocal

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.

  34 Responses to “How to Remove Duplicate Listings from Different Business Directories”

Comments (34)
  1. Awesome idea for a post and well executed! Data corruption in terms of local optimization can become the bane of your existence. Another tip from expirience, dexknows offers listings with tracking phone numbers, messing up your data not just there but on sites across the ecosystem. They say they make the listing no index and no follow…but they don’t. Look out for that one.

  2. Thanks for some great info! We’ve got an attorney client with multiple iterations of erroneous info. I’m afraid some of these issues are never going to go away. Seems in some situations the best investment of time is toward the items you can have the most impact on.

    • Thanks for the comment Bill! Attorneys are usually one of the most “infected” categories of local businesses, together with the medical industry ones. Not just in some – in many situations there is nothing that could be done, especially with the “smaller” websites which do not have any editorial control and are either working on autopilot, or are simply scraping content from other places. 100% cleanliness is rarely even possible.

  3. This is an incredibly valuable resource – thanks for taking the time to put it together Nyagoslav.

    • Sure thing, Eric! I am actually about to issue a “Citation Building Guide” and one of the “bonuses” to it will be a list very similar with the one in this article, but it will also include some “secondary” directories, as well as some niche ones for the industries that have duplicate listings problems most frequently.

  4. Superb info, Nyagoslav! Thanks for posting.

    InsiderPages has a nice system: when you search for any business, there’s the big blue “Report Duplicates” button right there on the page. That’s my favorite :)

    • Hey Phil, thanks for the compliment! I agree, InsiderPages is one of my true favorites (unlike MerchantCircle for example). ExpressUpdateUSA is also easy-going in this sense. That is the main reason why I haven’t included them here.

      • Nyagoslav, question, on my Insider Pages search results there were 5 listings. Out of these 3 had my clients exact name match and 2 of those were true bogus dupes (missing info and unclaimed). I hit the big blue button “Report Duplicates”.

        Are they good at figuring out which is the correct one? I was logged in as the client which I had already claimed one of the 3 listings for. Or is there something else I am missing.

        Thanks!!!!

  5. Hi Eric. Thanks for this very helpful and timely article. Have you any suggestions on how to deal with duplicates at Google? We’ve already submitted a delete request. What is the average wait time to see a change? And is there any harm in resubmitting your elimination request after that amount of time has passed?

  6. Great list! Nothing replaces good ‘ol fashioned leg work huh. #Feelingyourpain

    Best practices we’re figuring out…plan for discrepancies, duplicates, and client diatribes as to where their listings are and when they will be updated…

    Great link from @mblumenthal & @davidmihm last week about the update times throughout the local search ecosystem – http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/09/26/infographic-citations-time-to-live/

    • Chris, indeed manual work is still the most comprehensive and quality way to do SEO. And I suppose it will stay that way. Your plan sounds like a good one, hope this article helps in some way with its implementation.

  7. As always, great info, Nyagoslav. I have a new client who is going to be needing this over the next few months so thank you :) Im just praying he has kept his original account log in details.

  8. Brilliant post. I have a client that has multiple listings in different directories because of slight differences in the way he entered his address details. The company is based in Stratford on Avon Warwickshire, but there are duplicate listings for Stratford-on-avon and Stratford-upon-Avon.

    Because of the duplicates google places keeps creating multiple listings.

    This guide should help me clear out the duplicates ….. Thanks John

    • John, thanks for your comment! I am not too sure my guide is as useful in the UK context as it would be in the US, but I am happy to hear you find positives in it. I have the good will to write something similar for other countries, too (UK being one of them).

  9. Hi Nyagoslav,

    Could you touch upon when to choose to ‘close/delete’ a listing from a data aggregator (InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze) perspective… and when you should ‘claim or correct’ it?

    Do you only close/delete a listing only if there are duplicates within one of the 3 aggregators I listed?

    Is it better to close a listing or to claim/correct if it is a unique listing but with incorrect data in one of those 3 data aggregators?

    My concern is how the data is propagated down to the IYPs depending on the action taken … close/delete vs. claim/correct.

    I’ve seen how ‘corrected’ data from the major aggregators can propagate down nicely as well as incorrectly… sometimes causing dead pages or broken URLs… as some IYP listings seem to act as feeders or are shown as the ‘source’ listing for other IYP websites. (I’m thinking of CitySearch here.)

    Russ

  10. Use caution when closing listings on Localeze. When I’ve closed dup listings in the past, both listings ended up closed.

  11. If you’re a verified business on YellowBot, you can use the chat tool at the bottom of the page and have a customer service person help you (during business hours).

  12. This is a great article and very informative. Thanks a lot Nyagoslav.

    As a addition, let me add that I have tried to remove bad references from non-directories from all over the place. Usually I’ve gotten no response. On some very problematic sites, (that seemed to be Non Active) I’ve made offers to buy the sites. Still no action. Really terrible issue.

    In the past, before the changes that occurred in Google, with the improved customer service response that took effect during 2011, I used to find that with one of my gmail accounts in the Places Forum, I could send an email detailing the website and the problem with the bad information. Google would at times provide a “hand fix” or “point fix” on the issue. I didn’t overuse that situation.

    In sporadically reviewing problems in the forum, there are times when “hand fixes” or point fixes would be incredibly helpful. Google doesn’t seem to be providing them anymore to the outside person…but possibly TC’s are interceding and helping with that issue.

    I don’t know if that is done much now or at all. But if it were being done it would immediately clear a huge number of issues.

    Very helpful info.

    Dave

  13. Great, great post—thanks Nyagoslav. Any suggestions on how to charge a client for tackling the great unknown (manually TRYING to clean up local listings) when there’s no guarantee if can be fixed?

    • Overestimate, proceed with caution, and make no guarantees.

      I’ve been trying to manually clean up the listings for a hospital (incl. clinical locations and practitioners) and it is super slow going. Fortunately, I’m an employee, so I did not have to try and estimate beforehand, but it is far more difficult and time consuming than I’d ever imagined it would be. It’s just a big mess, given all the data there is out there, the verification issues (no way I can access all those phones), and the lack of response or ability to fix from most of the sites.

  14. Just wanted to say thanks for this excellent post. I had to spend half my day yesterday removing duplicates for a client, and this article came in super handy.

    Glad I found this blog; the tips on local are very practical.

  15. Great info. Sometimes I wonder if one if one of the listings is actually better than the other one. I guess it’s still an overall improvement to eliminate one for the sake of best practices.

  16. Any suggestions on correcting misinformation? We moved our business’ address and phone number a couple years ago and have dozens of incorrect listing floating around. I have tried deleting as many as I could but they keep reappearing…probably because they are re-entering them from old and bad information floating around in cyberspace. It seems like a never ending battle. Thanks!

  17. That is what I was wondering for a long time. I spent the last two hours trying to figure this out and you solved my problems in five minutes!

  18. *Citysearch Update*
    Called them today and they said email links to the correct listing and the duplicates to customerservice@citygrid.com
    :)

  19. You did a great job removing duplicate listings for one of my clients… Thanks for your help….

  20. The best thing to do is just let you or Whitespark clear up the listings…. My opinion.

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