How duplicate local citations can hurt SEO

If you ever search your company online, there might be a chance to come across many identical (or very similar) listings in one place. Having more than one citation on a website means you need to deal with duplicates, as they can truly hurt your SEO strategy. However, not so many people are aware of the negative effect these listings can have and often overlook them. Luckily, we’re here to help you out. In this article, you’ll find out about the ways duplicate local citations can hurt SEO, and also learn the best methods for dealing with them.

Duplicate citations – basics

In order to know how to deal with duplicate listings, let us remind you about some basics. Duplicate citations are any two or more mentions of a company at the same online location. For example, you should only have one listing on Yelp or Google My Business. If there’s more than one, you need to do something about it because citation cleanup is important.

Why do duplicates happen?

There are several ways of how more than one listings end up on one website. Most of the time this happens by accident – business owners don’t check the existing listings and make new ones. Also, duplicates can happen due to the automatic data transfer of name variations, data changes, spam, etc. Very often, businesses that offer more services can create different listings for each of them, violating the Google guidelines. Either way, be sure to check each website for duplicates before you create new listings, to minimize the chances of a damaged SEO.

contact information
The right contact information makes it easy for users and Google to locate your business.

Ways duplicate local citations harm your SEO

Now, let’s go through all the scenarios and see how to duplicate local citations can damage your SEO. This way, you will be more aware of the danger, and notice the mistakes faster, which will lead to a more successful SEO strategy.

Google penalties

Whatever you do, you need to avoid the scenario where Google penalizes you for violating their guidelines. If Google discovers too many duplicates, it can recognize them as spam and start the removal process. Furthermore, your consumers, as well as competitors, can report these duplicates and let Google know about it. This can result in penalties and a huge step back in your SEO progress.

Negative user experience

Another reason why you should avoid duplicate local citations is the negative user experience. If a customer tries to look for a product or service, he can be puzzled by all the options, confused, and ready to give up. This often results in a reduction of traffic, as well as sales.  Users should be able to find your business easily and find out the information they need from accurate sources. Correct and consistent listings build trust and a positive relationship with your customers.

showing the effects of duplicate local citations
Duplicate local citations can reduce traffic and confuse users.

Ranking decrease

When multiple listings ‘take away’ the points, the main listing loses ranking strength. This ranking power divides on different locations and therefore harms the original citation. Make sure to clean up all the unnecessary listings, so the traffic can concentrate on the original. This way, all the positive comments, and reviews will go to the right place, instead of being spilled all around.

Wasting time in edits

When trying to edit a listing, many duplicates can make you waste time on finding the authoritative listing. Another scenario is editing a listing and later finding out that it’s not the authoritative one. This results in wasting time, and also the edits you wanted to make end up in the wrong place.

Spreading inaccurate information

When duplicates include inaccurate or incomplete info about a business, you risk spreading this info on more websites. That’s why it is important to ‘clean up’ your citations and make sure your online presence is accurate and trustworthy.

Removing duplicates

The process of removing duplicate local citations includes a couple of steps. Depending on the size of your business and the number of duplicates, the process can take away a lot of your time.  Luckily, you can get citation cleanup services and save precious time. Identifying these listings and removing them once for all, can be taken care of by a professional.


This option is great if the two listings are identical. It’s necessary to un-verify one of them and make sure you claim both of the listings.


If a listing includes inaccurate or old information, you can ‘Suggest an Edit‘ for that citation. Depending on the information listed, you can select the appropriate option, or contact GMB support to help you out.


Deleting a listing is the only option to actually remove a duplicate that verified the same location as the main listing. However, be careful when doing this, in order not to delete the verified listing and go through the process again.

empty envelope and a pencil
Like in the mail, you want customers to arrive at the right address – that’s why duplicate local citations need to be removed.

Consistency of listings

Another important factor is keeping your duplicates consistent and accurate. The best way to do this is to use one authoritative listing as an example and keep the others consistent with that main citation. To be able to do that, make sure you find out more about the types of listings and what is the first thing to write in a citation.


Managing your SEO is a process that requires time and energy. The same goes for duplicates in the SEO world. As duplicate local citations will hurt your SEO, you need to maintain constant supervision of the main listings and update them whenever necessary.

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