GoogleMaps and Local Listings are powering forward despite the Herculean task they are attempting. Trying to amass the often incongruent data is a painful process. There are few simple answers to this process. Yes, even Google experiences growing pains.
The Why behind Map Mergers
Google wants relevant data. They also want to eliminate spam, or excess data. Map mergers are the result of data being too similar or of Google deeming the data as spam/false.
Addresses that are too Similar:
The simplest of mergers happens when two listings look to reference the same company. Like an address that only differs from the neighbor by a suite number. Two dentists sharing the same building, the same city, zip code, and the same category (i.e. Orthodontics) are at high risk of merging. These mergers happen to both claimed and unclaimed listings, and the information when merged may result in a blend from both listings; his phone number, your website, and your business name.
Business Name Similarities:
Google local listings may be merged because business names are too similar. Let's take "Charlotte Pest Control" and "Charlotte Pest Control-Deals". (Yes… there is still a spammer in Google Maps named "Charlotte Pest Control Deals" regardless of the number of times I have reported it.) Hypothetically, Google will judge the info and their sources.Let's say that "Charlotte Pest Control" is listed as registered and licensed with the pest control board on the governing body's website. They also have a local business license associated with their physical address and business name. Plus the local chamber of commerce website lists them and their address. Compared to "Charlotte Pest Control Deals" only having a profile created on Google by a Google user. Then if Google merges these listings they will most likely merge it to the "Charlotte Pest Control" listing. This is easy enough in this case because one company has references that look legit and the other does not. However, there are other factors that could sway this the wrong direction. Recent content, excessive content on articles, and domain registration all count when tallying the scores.
Same Business Name Different Locations:
A company with mulitple locations may see their listings merge. Key factors in merging these local listings are the website address and the phone number. If you have a single phone number for all of your locations then you are at a high risk of being merged. If all of your locations share the same website then you have a higher risk. If your locations are "fake rental mailboxes" or "virtual offices" then you are at a higher risk. Essentially, if there is not enough supporting evidences on the web, or in other search-able documents backing the fact that you have 10 locations in the same metro area, then you are likely going to see your listings merge.
How to Unmerge Wrongfully Merged Listings.
Step 1: Claim the listing
<if you're listing is already claimed skip to "Claimed Listings">
If the listing is unclaimed: You can tell if the listing is claimed by the portion that says, "Edit this place – Business Owner?".
Fix the listing FIRST. Do this while in Google maps, not in Google places. See image below.
After editing the listing claim the listing, do this in Google Places. It would be recommended to wait for the edit to take effect. Trying to claim the listing prior to the edit may delay the correction by having to wait through the verification process. Most don't believe there is a difference between a phone call and a letter, but I opt for letter verification. Google tends to use this method when conflicts arise.
Claimed Listings: Noted by owner verified check mark.
If the listing is claimed then first check and perhaps fix it in your Google Places. These edits may take some time. If the information is correct in the listing then make another edit, like to your description, so that your Google places has the most recent edit. Note that this may cause another request for verification. If it does then simply comply and wait for the verification.
If you have not claimed the listing and it says owner verified then you will want to claim the listing for yourself. Simply click on the text "Owner Verified" and it will take you to Google places. You can create your profile there and claim your listings. This will take time as you will have to wait for Google to verify you and then sort out who the real owner is. There are ways to weight this judgment in your favor.
Step 2: Correcting the information elsewhere
Because Google is relying on other sources for their listings, and scarped content, you must go to those other sources. The best way to unmerge the listing is go to the primary source of all local listings: InfoUSA
BE WARNED: This is a sure fire way to increase your phone calls!
But they are not the phone calls you want as InfoUSA will sell your information to businesses that solicit other businesses. So your calls will increase, but mainly because of solicitors. Overall the best fix is going to the root of local business listings. If you are one of two businesses with similar addresses that have been merged then enter in both businesses. If you are the same business with multiple locations then enter in all of your locations.
Take note that changing it at the source may not delete previous errors. Many directory sites simply keep adding new information to the pile of old information. And if your old incorrect information keeps getting scraped by Google, then Google will continue to re-create your listings and potential re-merge listings. To do a thorough job you need to search out and destroy all of the bad addresses for your business on the net. When I say "bad addresses" I mean inconsistent. MAKE ALL OF YOUR ADDRESSES CONSISTENT. Use the exact same punctuation, abbreviations, everything. Make it either "Suite – B" or "Ste. B". Pick either "Street", or "St.", "North" , "N" or "N." Yes, Google should catch all of this and they do a good job for the most part, BUT WHY LEAVE IT TO CHANCE?
Step 3: Wait for it.
Google usually does not show edits immediately. Some updates will take place very quickly, within a couple of hours or a couple of days. Most unmergers will take much longer, up to 12 weeks. These 3 steps should solve your merging problems and even unmerge listings. If you had reviews with your previous listing then you want an unmerger. Google stores all the previous information. Just check the reviews.
Review Check Sample 1: Here is an old review that has not merged with the new correct address for Bulwark's San Antonio pest control location. Old Review In this case, the review still exists it simply is unattached to my local listing right now. If you get the error, "We no longer support this location" then your listing was banned.
Step 4: Last Resort: Create a new listing.
If Step 1-3 do not fix your problem after 3 to 12 weeks then you may attempt to create a new listing all together. Make sure that you still follow Step 2 so that other sources are mimicking your business information. Unfortunately without these outside references your business listing will not stick.
Unmerging Local Listings is not easy and it will take time, but it will work.
And as always, I'm just a pest control guy saying "Make it a Great Day!"