By Dipa Gandhi and Diane Lovine
Late in 2021, the team at 99 Calls noticed duplicate Google Business Profiles (GBPs) had been created for many of our clients’ service area businesses. After some investigation and confirmation with our clients, it was apparent the duplicate profiles were generated by Google. In many cases, even though we had already built a GBP representing the customer as a service area business Google was auto-generating a secondary and often incomplete listing.
99 Calls primarily works with service area businesses; those that travel to their customers to perform a service, rather than from a brick-and-mortar building where customers go to receive a service. Google’s own established guidelines specifically state that businesses that service their clients at their residential or business location should not display their street address on the GBP.
It was determined that Google was using information from the Contact Us pages of the lead generation websites to auto-generate duplicate listings. These listings kept the addresses visible and promoted the Contact Us pages of the sites as the landing pages on the GBPs. This resulted in dozens and dozens of our customers having 2 GBPs; one with their address hidden as is in compliance with Google’s best practices and with the home page of the lead site used as the landing page, and the other with the address visible and showing an actual pin location that promoted the Contact Us page of the website as the landing page.
Below is an example of a customer who ended up with two GBPs, one that was successfully created and managed by the team at 99 Calls and the other that was auto-generated by Google:
Duplicate Auto-Generated GBP:
Original GBP Managed by 99 Calls:
Google’s Business Profile Guidelines
As per Google’s guidelines, businesses such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors, and other trades should keep their addresses hidden on their GBP, allowing them to be represented as service area businesses. This prevents Google Maps from having an actual pinpointed location and instead displays the service area served by the business. The duplicate listings that were being generated by Google were out of compliance with their own guidelines.
Correct GBP: Service Area Shown:
Incorrect GBP: Address Shown with Pin:
How 99 Calls Fixed Duplicate GBPs
Having 2 GBP listings with the same business name, address, phone number, and website can impact SEO efforts, hinder lead volume results, risk a suspension of the live active GBP we manage, and cause confusion for people searching.
Since 95% of our clients are service area businesses and do not have a brick-and-mortar location, we submitted suggested edits regarding the duplicate GBPs to Google. Specifically, we suggested that the businesses no longer existed at the locations indicated. We waited 30 days, and then if the duplicate listing had not been removed, we contacted Google Support for additional help, explaining the situation and asking them to remove the duplicate or merge it with the original GBP that we manage.
Effectiveness of Removing Google-Generated Duplicate Listings
In some cases, the duplicate listings had been removed within 30 days of the suggested edits. More often, the duplicate listings were still showing and our team contacted Google support for further action. Within 60 days, almost all reported duplicates had either been removed or merged by Google, leaving just 1 GBP for the business.
Google Removed the Wrong Business Profile!
However, a new problematic issue was noted. In many cases, Google was merging the 2 GBPs but keeping the (incorrect, auto-generated) duplicate GBP. After the merge, what was shown was a GBP with the reviews still intact, but with the address visible and the landing page that people are being directed to as the Contact Us page, rather than the homepage of the website. Also, the business category is often slightly different than what it was prior and the business hours were removed. Unfortunately, this means we had to go to the GBP dashboard and correct the problems on the profiles. Luckily, once these edits were completed and the listing was back in order, the problem was resolved for our customers.
How to Prevent Google From Creating a Duplicate GBP
The team at 99 Calls recognized that Google was using the information contained on the Contact Us page of our lead generation websites to build these second (duplicate) listings. By removing the Contact Us pages from the sites altogether and utilizing an About Us page only, we have been able to avoid further issues with these duplicates being generated.