With the number of 'near me' searches nearly doubling within the last year, a sound local SEO strategy is imperative for any business hoping to secure a top spot within local search results. A major hit to a company's searchability is the existence of duplicate listings, which are additional business listings that confuse search engines and undermine a business' reliability when it comes to digital information.
The ranking of a business in local search is largely dependent upon the accuracy of its NAP data across the web. Therefore, the inconsistency of local listings can be detrimental for a business' ability to rank well for relevant local searches. Deviations between business listings are confusing for search engine crawler and data aggregator algorithms — not to mention consumers.
Although a human brain can differentiate between the search terms "Dr. Megan Thomas" and "Doctor Megan Thomas," a search engine or directory cannot. Duplicate listings are most commonly caused by bad source data or publisher mistakes. These can be categorized into four common types:
- Self-created duplicates occur when businesses lack a cohesive strategy for dealing with business listings, such as miscommunication among team members, or through the use of a third-party tool or data aggregator to add listings that may not detect duplicates
- Aggregator-created duplicates result because data aggregators are not skilled at matching up records from online sources and, as a result, more duplicates may be created
- Publisher-created duplicates happen when publishers have lax matching and data cleanup practices. This is why many publishers rely on Yext for authoritative digital knowledge directly from businesses
- Cross-pollination duplicates result when aggregator results are sent to a publisher, but then web crawlers find the source again
Regardless of how a duplicate listing originated, their presence can cause irreparable damage to a business' credibility and local SEO. Duplicate listings can not only be confusing, but also frustrating for customers looking to interact with a business online or in store. Duplicate listings also create communication challenges between businesses and customers because it is difficult to find and claim customer feedback when not posted in a centralized location. Likewise, duplicate listings cause social data to be spread thin across several sites rather than accumulating all in one place, which lowers a business' search ranking as each individual listing brings in less content than a centralized source ultimately would.
The solution to duplicate listings? Duplicate Suppression, a Yext feature that removes any duplicate listing from the Publisher Network so only authoritative listings are shown. Through Duplicate Suppression, duplicate listings are solved at the publisher level, which fixes both aggregator and publisher-created duplicates.