Monday, May 30, 2011

Duplicate Listings and Local Search

lI have discussed in the past my disdain for the local search algorithm that Google has yet to master. Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with the algorithm itself that can lead to any number of headaches for business owners and online marketing companies managing local search campaigns for their clients. And while there are a number of things that can be done to prevent these issues, unfortunately, a lot of the time they are out of our control; rather, we simply have to roll with punches and make do with what we are given. I am going to explain why.

There are times when you claim your local listing, verify the listing after receiving the PIN number, and you think that you are off and running after having spent some time optimizing the information. Then, out of nowhere, you are checking your rankings out in the local search results and all of a sudden a listing is staring you in the eyes that you have never seen before. It has your company name, or a variation of your company name, but it does not have the information you included in the listing that you verified, and it appears to be a separate listing altogether. And it is! So now what? And more importantly, why is this happening?

Understanding why a duplicate listing has popped up for your business requires a general understanding of how the local algorithm functions. Unfortunately, it relies on external sources that can often provide the search engine with misleading or erroneous information about your company. Ultimately, the local algorithm is based off of citations. In this case, a citation refers to any time your company is listed on a web page - your business name, contact information, and additional details are typically what would be displayed by most webmasters. And while an increase in citations can lead to a boost in your ranking positions in the local results, it can also lead to duplicate listings.

Often your company name will be cited with inaccurate information - it could be a different business name than what you have in your verified listing, or perhaps the address is where the business used to be located. Either way, to a spider that is crawling that information, it can appear to be a different entity entirely. So a separate listing is created under the (false) pretense that it is not your company. If this scenario should arise, it is necessary to regroup and execute the steps you took to verify your first listing.

Claim the listing, verify it, and then edit the information so it appears exactly as it does in your first listing. The goal is that Google will eventually merge the two listings after recognizing it is in fact one company, and the newer listing will vanish from the local search results. In the meantime, you may have a lot of confused people wondering who you really are, where you are really located, and how they can really contact you. Pop an Advil and keep your fingers crossed. The local algorithm may have already cost your company a lot of valuable traffic and potential revenue.

No comments:

Post a Comment