Why Google Local Listings Merge and How to Unmerge Listings.

by Thomas Ballantyne May 28th, 2010 

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">

Unclaimed Listing

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.

Map View in Google Maps > Click the drop down menu "more" > scroll to "edit details".

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 Listing

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.

Final Notes:

Unmerging Local Listings is not easy and it will take time, but it will work.

If you need help please feel free to email me < >. I have had to unmerge a few of Bulwark pest control's listings.

And as always, I'm just a pest control guy saying "Make it a Great Day!"

Thomas Ballantyne

Don't mind me, I'm just the Pest Control Guy. Thomas Ballantyne

Pest Control SEO

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10 Responses to “Why Google Local Listings Merge and How to Unmerge Listings.”

  1. Tammi Kibler says:

    Thanks Thomas, this is very well explained solution. I haven't had this problem yet, but I can see where it would pop up in my town (lots of dentists in same buildings, similar business names on same street.)
    .-= Tammi Kibler recently posted: Four Mistakes Sarah Ferguson Can Teach Writers to Avoid =-.

  2. Adam says:

    Thank you for the post. You have explained the process of merging and unmerging listings very well.

  3. Thanks Tammi.

    Google's form has a story of an emergency situation where the hospital was trying to contact the patient's doctor and was dialing the wrong number because the google map had merged the doctor with his neighboring doctor's office. Close call for the patient. Not a fun situation to be in.

    But Google is doing the best they can and smart business owners would be well advised to make sure their listings are correct.
    .-= Thomas Ballantyne recently posted: Pest Control Customer Satisfaction Scores =-.

  4. Shuvo says:

    Adding your business in google local business is an excellent way to know the world about your business.Meanwhile this is great tutorial about the process of merging and unmerging listings.

  5. Brent says:

    Thomas-

    Just curious. What affect will having a virtual mailbox affect the listings… or SEO for that matter? I have a business that serves a particular zip code. We used to be located in that zip code, but now we re-located quite outside that zipcode, even though we still service it.

    That zip code really is our bread and butter, so I'd like to continue having a presence there. I was thinking about a mailbox rental, where we can use the address. But after reading your post, I'm wondering if I'm going to be hurting my online presence by gong with that option.

    Thoughts?

    • Thos003 says:

      Brent,

      Per their most recent update to their Quality Guidelines, Google does not like P.O. Boxes…

      - Do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist.
      - PO Boxes do not count as physical locations.

      If you are not in a competitive market than you have a good chance of showing up for your ideal zip code by adding it to your area's serviced. Although you will not look as local as the guy who's listing is actually in that area. Per Google Places rep, Jessica, they want the local (in proximity) businesses to show in the maps. "We want to little guys to have a chance."
      .-= Thos003 recently posted: 5 Things I learned at SMAZ =-.

  6. Ryan says:

    Thanks a lot for this. I have a local business that I have struglled with the local listings with. I will give these tips a try. Thanks!

  7. Your posting on merging and unmerging listing is quite thorough and explicit. It will mae my listings a lot easier in the future. Good posting.

  8. Darrin says:

    This has been driving me nuts. Google has been screwing up my listing for months now. First with merging than with glitching out and being taken offline. Only to get it back online and glitch again. I was number 1 before my problems and now I don't even show up for the search in places that is when my listing isn't actually glitched and not showing at all.

    • Thos003 says:

      Darrin,

      Google Places is a nasty neighborhood right now. Think open terrain, wild west, no law enforcement. Banditos and rats run rampant. It's the new frontier, and it's certainly not bug free.

      How closely associated with the other merged business are you? Same address? Same business category? Similar name? You may need to provide more evidences that your business is not the same and is the authority. If you were number one before the merge and now are not found after the split then its most likely the authority and the citations are all being credited to the business you were once merged with.

      Did you check the emails associated with the account? If someone is reporting your listing for various things google may actually send you an email, in that case it's not a glitch but an actual edit.