In the last two posts of SEO You Should Know: Local Edition, we’ve discussed how you can begin to establish and manage your presence in the increasingly important world of local search. In just a few hours, you can locate, claim, build, and maintain your company’s profiles on Google, Yelp and Bing.

Those are only three of hundreds of online directories, search engines, and review sites that could have your company’s info. If you have the time (and patience), you can find these directories and complete the similar processes of getting your company listed. The more references and links to your site, the better. You could also hire an experienced SEO firm to focus on developing this local presence for you. And with the obligatory pitch out of the way, on to this week’s post.

A problem you will probably come across as you scour the web for these (mostly free) local directories is the issue of duplicate listings. It can happen on the lesser known directories and even on the heavy hitters like Google, Yelp, and Bing. You would think having more references and pages talking about and directing to your site would be a good thing right? It is, but not in this case.

Duplicate listings can occur when the search engine’s bots crawl the web after each query is submitted and they bring back all of the information they find to the searcher.  In the vastness of the internet, there are bound to be some discrepancies. These could occur when a customer cites the wrong address or phone number on a review site. Or maybe your company moved years ago, but some engines still have the old address and number. Possibly your URL or email address have changed. The reason we claim these business listings to remove discrepancies and manage your local profiles is the same reason we remove duplicate listings.

First, we don’t want incorrect information about your business feeding the search engine bots. In the last two posts, we talked about NAP. It is very important from a local standpoint that your NAP is accurate and matching the NAP that could be found at any corner of the internet in regards to your company.

Second, it is important that you leave the competition to your actual competition. You don’t want to be competing with yourself. Some of our clients have had duplicate Yelp or Google profiles with slight variations. Your potential customers won’t put too much thought into uncovering the correct listing or the incorrect one. Your gamble will be hoping they pick the one you’ve spent the time carefully selecting pictures, writing great descriptions, and developing your image. So we want to remove these duplicates to make sure when they click on your business name, they are getting the best first impression.

The tricky part is the actual removal of these listings. Some directories and engines are better than others. As we’ve mentioned before, Google has very little (if anything) in the way of customer service. If you come across multiple listings on Google for the same location, you will have to go through the claiming process again. Once you verify that you are the owner, update the information in the profile and then suspend the listing. (Note: Don’t delete it from your places, just the Google Results…you’ll still want to be able to manage it). Every once in a while, do a Google Places search for your company and make sure no other duplicates pop up. Popular or larger companies have this happen often.

Most of the other directories are easier, but are not uniform. For the most part, it is a matter of tracking down the customer support section of the directory, and sending an email to the support team to help you by manually removing the listing. Other times there will be an FAQ section, and in many cases you can find support there by selecting “Duplicate Listing Error” or something similar and submitting a request to have the duplicates removed. It helps if you know the URL’s of the duplicates, so have those ready or open in separate tabs.

Then it’s just a matter of time and patience. Keep up with your emails sent out to these support teams and check back every so often. There are a ton of directories out there, so your work is never completely done. Justify this with the knowledge that every little bit really does help. And again, if you’d rather leave it to the SEO pros, there’s always that option.

We’ve come to the end of our local advice for now. Stay tuned for the next edition of SEO You Should Know, and we’ll tackle another element of search engine optimization that will help you grow your online presence. As always, if you have any questions, email us at moc.evitcaretnignivlovenull@ofni, call us, or sound off in the comment section.

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