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  1. #1
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    Question Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    I posted this question on SEOMoz and got some good answers from Miriam and I have a lot of reading to do. It looks like there are some good posts in this forum that might answer my questions as well, but in the mean time, I'm re-posting the question here.

    Any help or advice would be more than appreciated.

    I'm working with a dentist attempting to merge his Google+ Local listings into a single Google+Local listing.

    He's got 3 listings currently with reviews spread out among all of them.
    1 is for him.
    1 is for the practice.
    1 is for the previous owner of the practice who just retired.
    We first tried reporting these listings as duplicates using the Report a Problem link on Google Maps. We waited almost a month. Nothing happened.
    Then I reported the problem using the Google Places help tool here: My listing has incorrect information.

    Go through our step-by-step troubleshooters to find Help articles that can assist with your issue. And if we still haven't answered your question, fill out the short form at the end of the questions to
    This had the benefit of getting a live person to review our problem and help.
    Unfortunately, he first replied saying that he could not merge the listings because Google's Guidelines state that you can have separate listings for each individual doctor and the practice itself.
    I then replied saying that the third listing is incorrect because the doctor retired. He is now suggesting that we report all the incorrect listings as "closed".
    I think this is a very bad idea because what I've seen Google do in the past is continue to display the listings, but simply say that the place is closed. This gives patients the impression that they went out of business.
    My strategy as of now is to simply try and verify each listing and under-optimize two of them and optimize the third one that we want to show up well.
    So - now to my questions. Thanks for bearing with the long explanation.
    1. Do you think that this strategy is a good one?
    2. Do you agree that it is a bad idea to mark the listings as "closed"?
    3. Lastly, on on the listings that we've claimed - we've made changes and they haven't appeared in the live results. It's been almost 3 weeks now. Any idea as to why that would be?
    Thanks!
    Tom


  2. #2
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Hey Tom,

    Thanks for joining and posting over here. I know Miriam has been helping you over there and gave you links to posts over here.

    As I mentioned via email, I'm running out door for Dr appt, so can't type much now, but will later.

    Real quick re listings not updating. Images are delayed over a month, videos and post an update and more details sections not longer show at all. The pages are just sort of slow and crippled right now.

    But also if you do it wrong, all your changes can end up on a new dupe. So you keep looking at existing listing, wondering why no change, but the changes split off to a new listings instead. But again that only happens if you do certain things in the wrong order and may not be the case here.

    Gotta get ready to leave. Will be back with more info later.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  3. #3
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    "My strategy as of now is to simply try and verify each listing and under-optimize two of them and optimize the third one that we want to show up well.
    So - now to my questions. Thanks for bearing with the long explanation.

    1. Do you think that this strategy is a good one?"

    I think Miriam linked you to this post? Overcoming New Google Places Duplicate Listing Problems for Dentists, Doctors, Attorneys - Google Places Optimization Blog

    I would NOT claim. One of the consultants I do training for claimed the Dr. dupes and Google immediately suspended the entire account and all the listings.

    I would at least start by trying what I recommend in that post.

    DON'T CLAIM, just do user edits on the listing. Change link to Dr bio page or staff page. Be sure Dr name is just Dr name. If it's listed as Practice: Doctor Name, get rid of the practice name. Pick a cat like Dental Clinic that you don't want for the practice listing.

    2. Do you agree that it is a bad idea to mark the listings as "closed"?

    Well I agree it's not ideal BUT it is the correct way to handle and is not as bad as you think it is.

    Things have changed for the better a little. We fought and fought and Google made some changes. Now that sign on the listing says "this place has closed or relocated." which softens a little. (In fact now if a business moves you can even have it link to the new listings.)

    For reference: http://localsearchforum.catalystemar...le-update.html
    http://localsearchforum.catalystemar...ess-moves.html

    But closed listings should never show up for a keyword search or practice name search. (Again if the practice name is in there need to do a user edit to get rid of it.) Closed listings should only show up for a direct name search.

    IF you really don't want to kick it out of search by marking as closed, then I suppose you can try just minimizing it so it does not rank and does not compete with the practice listing and knock it out of blended. But there is always the chance it will impact ranking on the main listing.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  4. #4
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Quote Originally Posted by dentistdesign View Post
    I posted this question on SEOMoz and got some good answers from Miriam and I have a lot of reading to do. It looks like there are some good posts in this forum that might answer my questions as well, but in the mean time, I'm re-posting the question here.

    Any help or advice would be more than appreciated.

    I'm working with a dentist attempting to merge his Google+ Local listings into a single Google+Local listing.

    He's got 3 listings currently with reviews spread out among all of them.
    1 is for him.
    1 is for the practice.
    1 is for the previous owner of the practice who just retired.
    We first tried reporting these listings as duplicates using the Report a Problem link on Google Maps. We waited almost a month. Nothing happened.
    Then I reported the problem using the Google Places help tool here: My listing has incorrect information.

    Go through our step-by-step troubleshooters to find Help articles that can assist with your issue. And if we still haven't answered your question, fill out the short form at the end of the questions to
    This had the benefit of getting a live person to review our problem and help.
    Unfortunately, he first replied saying that he could not merge the listings because Google's Guidelines state that you can have separate listings for each individual doctor and the practice itself.
    I then replied saying that the third listing is incorrect because the doctor retired. He is now suggesting that we report all the incorrect listings as "closed".
    I think this is a very bad idea because what I've seen Google do in the past is continue to display the listings, but simply say that the place is closed. This gives patients the impression that they went out of business.
    My strategy as of now is to simply try and verify each listing and under-optimize two of them and optimize the third one that we want to show up well.
    So - now to my questions. Thanks for bearing with the long explanation.
    1. Do you think that this strategy is a good one?
    2. Do you agree that it is a bad idea to mark the listings as "closed"?
    3. Lastly, on on the listings that we've claimed - we've made changes and they haven't appeared in the live results. It's been almost 3 weeks now. Any idea as to why that would be?
    Thanks!
    Tom

    Tom, as you describe it you don't have duplicates that should be marked as such. Doing so will (likely) result in data issues with old data overriding current data such as name, phone number (should it change), websites, etc. If you read Duplicates - Map Maker Help it says, on this point:
    Some doctors may share the same office address with other doctors. If the listings have different doctor names, they are not duplicates, even if they have the same phone number. The same goes for lawyers, insurance agents, etc.

    Professional listings (individual doctors) are not duplicates of one another or the practice they work for. Also an old business is not the duplicate of a new business with a different name. For the old, closed, business you will want to update the listing in MapMaker to match the correct info as of its closing and include a note saying this business is closed and you're just repairing it. You may also strip out the phone number as it is no longer used by that business and could confuse the bots if the name and address are close to the new feature.

    Also, it would be impermissible to change a professional listing to a practice listing as that would run afoul of rebranding and name change Guidelines which require new listings when such a change happens.

    And as Linda said, don't claim old listings, duplicates etc.

  5. #5
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Thanks Linda for catching me and helping me out here. Andrew - excellent points as well. Thanks for clarifying it that way. Google has made it very clear now that they will not merge or remove practitioner listings. I can understand now why this is an entire industry in itself.

    It looks like I re-named the listings incorrectly and ran afoul of the re-branding rules earlier. I had (a couple of weeks ago) thought incorrectly that a good step prior to asking Google to merge the duplicates would be to change the name of the retired doctor listing with reviews to the practice name. Ever since then, it changed in the dashboard but none of my edits ever made it to the live places page. Now, when you click the "See your listing on Google" link, it actually links over to the other page that was claimed in that account.

    I'm glad they changed their rules about marking a practice as closed, but I still don't like the fact that it'll say it's closed next to it, and the doctor doesn't want to lose his reviews.

    So - my plan as of now is to:

    1. Change the retired doctor's listing back to his name from the practice name. Hopefully this will allow me to make edits to it again. Remove the link to the practice website and remove some of the categories. This is the listing that Google directly associates with the website in the organic listings. I would like to change this to the practice listing, but not totally sure how to do this.

    2. Make user edits to the other doctor listing as discussed in the article.

    3. Add relevant information to the practice listing that they want to optimize now.

    Does that sound good?

    Thanks!
    Tom

  6. #6
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Quote Originally Posted by dentistdesign View Post
    1. Change the retired doctor's listing back to his name from the practice name. Hopefully this will allow me to make edits to it again. Remove the link to the practice website and remove some of the categories. This is the listing that Google directly associates with the website in the organic listings. I would like to change this to the practice listing, but not totally sure how to do this.
    So it sound like you are saying in the SERPS, in the blended algo when you find this practice,
    the G+L link goes to the retired Dr not the practice?

    I don't remember that being mentioned - you have a bigger problem then I thought and.

    "I would like to change this to the practice listing, but not totally sure how to do this."

    No one can just change it. Not even Google support. That match is happening on the fly at search time and is algo driven. You can only change it by removing or minimizing the listings you DON'T want to show and leaving only one clear choice for the algo to pick.

    In training I teach that the local algo is like a kindergartener playing a match game. She matches whatever APPEARS to be the best match, but she often gets confused and gets it wrong.

    In that case she's going… OK I have 1 site, 3 listings. Which is the best match? I can only choose 1. OK I'll choose the oldest one that has the most citations. It was here 1st. With the most matching citations (due to age) she'd have the most trust that it's correct.

    Now without seeing the listings and doing the NAP research I don't know for sure that's the case, but I bet I'm close.

    EVEN IF you pull the site link and removed it from the old Drs listing I bet she'll either still put it on the live listing OR still make the association.

    So really your only choice in a case like this is to mark it closed. That will pull it out of the ranking totally then G will only be left with 2 choices. Minimize the other Dr listing as I recommend, changing the link to the bio or staff page and THEN the only choice the kindergartener has left is the right one - the practice.

    The ONLY time anyone will see the old Drs. listing is if they directly search for it by name.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  7. #7
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Wonderful advice so far.

    One other question. It appears that even though I've claimed these listings, the edits I make aren't trusted or published. Has anyone experienced this? Anyway of getting Google to trust again or publish the listings?

    Thanks,
    Tom

  8. #8
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Quote Originally Posted by dentistdesign View Post
    It appears that even though I've claimed these listings, the edits I make aren't trusted or published. Has anyone experienced this? Anyway of getting Google to trust again or publish the listings?
    What makes you think the edits aren't trusted? Is there a message in dash?

    Can you explain in more detail Tom? I see lots of different problems and it's hard to know which way you mean that.

    If you are saying you recently edited and the updates have not shown up live yet… videos and more details no longer show at all they are broken. Same with post an update. Images are currently taking about 5 weeks to show. Other changes can take a week or so.

    If it's a new claimed listing and NOTHING has changed yet, it could be normal delays or it could be a problem that often comes up if you do things in the wrong order. Or since you said "publish the listing" almost sounds like the listings are not going live or something???

    Explain more or share a link to the listing so I can investigate and tell you what's up if the above does not seem to answer the issue, because I'm not totally clear on the Q. There are too many potential variables. Also if you share a link give me general timeline. (Verified 2 weeks ago, edited one week ago, etc.)
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  9. #9
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Still curious about the not trusted comment and if listings aren't publishing at all or it's just the usual edit update delays you are referring to.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  10. #10
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    Re: Best strategy to merge duplicate listings?

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks so much for your interest and help on this.

    Here are the three listings involved:

    http://bwd.me/claimed1
    http://bwd.me/claimed2
    I believe the title of this page used to be just the first doctor listed and the new doctor added himself when he purchased the practice.

    I changed the name of this listing to the practice name 2-3 weeks ago and it never changed on the live listing. None of the changes to the first two listings above have been taking. There have been no messages in the dashboard.

    http://bwd.me/unclaimed

    Interestingly enough, the doctor reported that someone from Google called their office and asked if the first doctor was still practicing there. The person said it had nothing to do with what we were doing, but it sounds like it might have.

    Thanks,
    Tom

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