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When Social Hurts Search (And How to Avoid the Risk to Rankings and Reputation)

Posted on 8.16.2016

Thanks to smartphones and social channels, people are easily “checking in” to local businesses on Facebook and other digital properties (e.g., Google, Foursqaure) to show off their patronage and share their whereabouts, but these well-meaning customers could be risking the company’s search rankings when they create new listings themselves or the network populates a page based on interest. 

While the problem of “duplicate” local listings have existed for years (as have check-ins), Moz Local Search Evangelist George Freitag says the problem is more prominent today and user-generated content (UGC) is a big reason why (among other reasons like a business moving, being acquired or not communicating internally). Moz has launched a new “duplicates dashboard” within its Moz Local product, which will help enterprises improve and speed up their duplicate resolution process. 

Moz understands this ecosystem very well as its Moz Local offering currently manages about 75,000 business locations for 13,000 companies – tracking more than 1 million duplicate listings. Its new duplicates dashboard is part of its baseline offering for listing distribution – available now – with no separate upgrade. 

Forget One and Done 

Locating, closing and monitoring duplicate listings manually is a tiresome process, of course, for the business with five locations but nearly impossible for the enterprise with 5,000. According to Moz, the average enterprise client has 3,500 duplicates at signup and costs 44 weeks of “person” hours annually to manually manage duplicates for a large brand – not to mention the upkeep of this ongoing process (which Moz automates). The alternative of not doing so, however, is not only the risk to a company’s reputation in the eyes of the consumer (imagine driving to the wrong location) but also the search engines where trust is everything. Freitag says Google looks to directories, websites and other data sources to verify its own info. If it sees two businesses under the same address, Google is not sure which to trust and neither business listing gets presented to users in the local pack – to the detriment of phone calls, website visits and walk-ins. 

Slice and Dice Data

Moz Local users are familiar with its “one-click closure” of duplicate listings but will now find an enhanced backend as well as improved tracking and processing. The new dashboard provides greater transparency and improved workflow for faster closures, shorter review cycles and more. 

The dashboard’s user interface (UI) is quite clean and intuitive. Users can see how many duplicate listings are opened, reviewed, in process of closures and how many have actually been closed. The search function allows for additional filters that can be saved for future/permanent use, which is especially useful for larger agencies or enterprises that, say, only want to look at specific subsections like “California locations” and export that data to share easily. 

Take Next Steps 

Social media can certainly provide a lot of visibility benefits for brands – like extra eyes on content hosted on a website – but local businesses need to do their due diligence to ensure check-ins aren’t hurting their cause by (1) establishing and promoting their official Facebook page and (2) monitoring duplicate listings across directories and networks. While Moz Local doesn’t have direct access to Facebook’s walled garden in particular, it can identify the duplicate listings and take business owners to the “edge” where it then shares the appropriate next-step to close that listing. For all of its partners (like Foursquare, which powers much of the local info being used across the ‘Net, and CitySearch), Moz Local takes care of the duplicates without the marketer ever leaving its UI. 

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