“Near Me” searches have become so common, it’s a force of habit now that we turn to our mobile devices and search for things nearby to solve our immediate needs. It’s both a great opportunity and a massive challenge for brands, whose job it is to ensure that local listings are complete and accurate across hundreds or even thousands of locations.

Are your customers able to find you in their moments of need?

Duplicate listings and ownership conflicts are two of the most common issues that hinder location discoverability and searcher experience. In this post, our Local Listings team shares tips on resolving ownership conflicts and cleaning up duplicate listings. 

You’ll learn how to find, correct and optimize your local listings, better manage your Google My Business account, increase location rankings and drive more traffic in-store. In doing so, you’ll reduce the frustration experienced by customers trying to find your stores when they’re presented with inaccurate information (and the sales lost as a result).

Why Local Listings Matter

Kids need a haircut? Let’s find “hairdressers near me.”

Need gas on the way home from an out of town meeting? Where are the “gas stations near me?”

Consumers performing searches for products and services in their immediate vicinity are highly motivated and ready to spend. They expect that clicking on a local listing will offer them the information needed to complete their task, and may want to know whether the store is open or closed right now (or when they plan on visiting) and how to get there. They may want to make sure a certain product is in stock, or click-to-call and book an appointment or ask a question.

Duplicate listings impact the brand in a number of ways:

  • New listings are created often by entities outside of your own marketing ecosystem, and you’re never sure which listing a searcher will see
  • Incorrect listing information undermines search engine trust in your brand, negatively affecting your rankings
  • Business is lost at the local level both when consumers cannot find your listings and when incorrect listings information provides a poor customer experience
  • Your reviews may be split among different listings, diluting their ability to help your correct listing rank higher
  • An inaccurate duplicate listing can proliferate quickly, as indexes look to other indexes for data
  • Time wasted attempting to correct inaccurate listings, and correcting listings that should actually be merged or deleted

Where Do Duplicate Local Listings Come From?

Duplicate listings are created in a number of ways, some outside of your brand’s control:

  • Internal: Duplicate listings can be created unintentionally within the brand, when various departments manage different marketing functions. For example, your social team may submit local listings information to Facebook, while your ecommerce team submits listings information to Google. Are they submitting the same information?
  • Aggregators: In addition to verifying your location details directly, Google also receives data from third-party data sites. When this conflicts with your store data, there is a possibility of duplicate listings being published.
  • Searchers: Users may create listings when they want to check in or leave a review for one of your locations, but can’t find the listing. These often end up appearing as skeleton listings with limited data that conflicts with the data you’re publishing.

While some duplicates are flagged within your Google My Business account, it’s impossible for Google’s algorithms to find and flag every duplicate across the local search ecosystem.

Pro Local Listings Tips:

“The positive impact of local listings management can’t be overlooked. Prioritizing customer experience and search rankings via the automation of its local listings data syndication achieved a 41% increase in user sessions for one of our retailers with over 1,000 locations, for example. Automating Local Listings Management allows for the monitoring, cleansing and optimization of 1,000+ listings on a daily basis. That’s pretty powerful.” ~ Alex M., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

Resolving Ownership Conflicts to Gain Control of Your Listings

In addition to duplicates, navigating the process of resolving ownership conflicts can be just as overwhelming. We’ll review our suggestions and tips for resolving conflicts and gaining ownership to all of your locations on Google.

It’s important to own or have manager access to all of your locations on Google, even if your business is a franchise model. By managing all locations in a single account, you’ll be able to keep all location and brand details accurate and up-to-date.

Each location can have multiple Google My Business users, but only one Primary Owner. You’ll see whether a GMB listing in your company or location’s name has been claimed when you navigate to it–if you’re presented a dialog box telling you it’s already claimed, you’ll need to gain ownership.

So how was someone else able to claim your business on Google? Ownership conflicts can occur in a number of ways:

  • The listing was claimed by an owner, franchisee, manager or other person who is no longer associated with the organization.
  • The listing was claimed by a competitor of yours.
  • You claimed the listing, but no longer use the email associated with that ownership.
  • Someone otherwise unassociated with the business claimed the listing for some reason.

Google has a specific process outlined here for gaining control of your listings when they’ve been verified by others. Sometimes it’s as simple as requesting access and waiting out the 7-day timeframe the owner has to respond. For some, asking the person to transfer primary ownership of the listing is successful. If the current verified owner is unresponsive or uncooperative, Google will request brand credentials (such as a domain email address) and will use that the release their access to the location. From there, you can claim and verify the location under your account.

Pro Tips for Resolving Ownership Conflicts

“Ownership conflicts are common in industries like healthcare, where you have multiple departments and professionals located at the same address. There is no automated process to resolving these, you just have to be proactive and persistent.” Alex P., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

“It’s vital to maintain ownership of all of your locations, even for franchise businesses. This way, you have the control to make essential updates to your locations on Google such as setting holiday hours.” -Axel A., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

Other Expert Tips to Keep Your GMB Listings Accurate & Ranking Their Best

Local listings management doesn’t have to become another full-time task for each of your locations, but it deserves prioritization. Here are a few tips to help your brand get in front of your listings issues for higher rankings, greater search visibility and more foot traffic.

Set special hours. Show searchers in real time in search and Map Pack listings whether your locations are affected by holidays, weather events, etc. Google says here that they expect you to input these special hours even if they’re the same as your normal hours, to ensure the information is accurate. ~ Kai T., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

Be proactive in your Local Listings Management. Beyond the incredibly important issues of search engine trust and customer experience, inaccurate listings can be even more costly with Local Pack Ads showing up on mobile. Having someone find the wrong info on an ad you’re paying for is just a waste. ~ Erin R., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

Automate local rankings monitoring. You need to be notified of changes on your listings as they happen. If competitors marked a location permanently closed, you’d have no idea unless you looked into your dashboard, as Google doesn’t notify you. The search giant also doesn’t show permanently closed locations anymore in Local Finder. ~ Krystal T., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

Incorporate IYPs into your local SEO strategy. It’s easy to overlook Internet Yellow Pages, but they offer a great opportunity to improve local business citation accuracy across both search engines and directories. See it in action here. ~ Alex M., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

Deliver the anticipated searcher experience and convert more prospects with rich Local Pages. Where are you sending searchers from your local listings? Driving search traffic to pages rich in local content, with embedded media and integrated reviews, is a far more compelling experience than sending them to a generic homepage. Check this out: a retailer doubled their first page search results in just a month with Local Pages. ~ Erin R., Rio SEO Local Listings Team

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For a business with multiple locations, listing management can be an overwhelming and a difficult task to accomplish. Let us provide you a FREE Local Audit so you can learn more about how we can help you manage your local listings.