A GMB or Google My Business listing is an essential online marketing tool for business owners, big or small. A Google My Business account is easy to set up, reliable and free, which is great for start-ups or companies on a limited budget.
The problem, however, begins when your GMB gets suspended. And Google won’t even tell you why. Read on and learn some crucial points that you should know.
Common Reasons for Google My Business Suspension
If you suddenly have no control of your Google My Business listing or can’t find it on Google Search and Google Maps, that only means a GMB suspension. Naturally, it also results in lost leads, clicks and, at times, reviews. The worst part is, you won’t even know about the suspension unless you regularly monitor your business profile. And there are two types:
- Soft suspension. Google disables your listing. You can still see it on Search, but you cannot edit it anymore. Your listing will be on unverified status, making it at risk for removal.
- Hard suspension. Google removes your entire listing. You no longer see it on Google Search and Google Maps. Worse, you also run the risk of losing your reviews forever.
Why does Google do this? No, it’s not to make our business lives miserable. Google only wants to ensure an ideal business setup, where we all get accurate and trustworthy search results. Google’s high standards and strict rules can be difficult to follow sometimes.
Obvious errors are easy to avoid. Unfortunately, even minor mistakes can unintentionally get you into the suspension situation. Here are some of them.
1. Address or contact information issues
Business owners often encounter this type of suspension, as there are various reasons why they occur. Moreover, Google likes to keep an eye on your business location, phone number, URL and other related fields.
Remember: suspicious activities or details almost always lead to suspension. So, to avoid problems, check if your Google My Business listing account has:
- Misleading contact number or website. Does your registered number or URL directly connect your customers to your business? Google dislikes central call centre numbers and irrelevant URLs or contact details.
- Illegitimate business address. Is your physical address showing a P.O. Box, UPS, FedEx or any rented mailbox? Keep in mind that Google only recognises permanent office locations. For storefront locations, permanent signages should be in place as well.
- Residential address. Do you deliver services or products to clients without meeting them in your residential address? Then that means you are a service area business (SAB) operator. If that’s the case, register your home address but keep it hidden from the public. Or for online businesses without a physical storefront, consider creating a Google+ Brand Page.
- Co-working space address. Are you operating in an office building or establishment you do not own? Even if it is the only place where your operations or transactions happen, Google won’t allow it.
According to its guidelines, operators do not have the authority to represent a business address if you do not own or have an official lease for it.
- Multiple listings (type 1). Did you create several GMB listings under the same business address? If you do not do something about it, Google will likely remove duplicate listings and put the primary account under soft suspension.
- Multiple listings (type 2). Did you create several GMB listings under different business addresses? Business operators would often create virtual offices to rank in various locations. However, Google verifies your GMB listing by sending you a postcard with a code. And if no one receives the card in your virtual office, well, we know what will happen next.
2. Business name keyword problems
This problem started when past business operators resorted to spammy GMB listings and keyword stuffing for search engine rankings. Even then, competition for online presence was strict and being on top of the search pages proved was challenging. Adding extra keywords to their business name fields was an effective technique to cut corners at that time.
But Google’s upgraded algorithm is now smarter. Putting special characters, marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, location and the like to your business name only means one thing: soft suspension.
So, forget about catchphrases or unnecessary keywords, and stick to your actual business name. You can still apply your SEO techniques, though. Just reserve them for your website content, metadata and other more appropriate fields.
3. GMB guideline or TOS violations
Google has set up its GMB guidelines, website policies and terms of service to protect all users. As a business owner, your role is to know and follow these rules. Some violations you should know include:
- using GMB for spamming, phishing or malware transmission
- posting graphic or explicit material or promoting hate and violence on GMB websites
- unauthorised use of personal data like people’s credit card, social security or license numbers
- unauthorised publishing or sharing of copyrighted content
- creating copies that deal with child abuse or exploitation
- display of fraudulent actions like terrorism or dangerous drug promotion
Keep in mind that Google may update its Google My Business guidelines from time to time. So, make sure to habitually reread the policies every month and understand any new rule.
4. Multiple GMB profile changes
Before updating your Google My Business listing profile, keep in mind that making several changes at once looks unusual and questionable. So, rather than alert Google and risk suspension, do your edits in time intervals. Better yet, ensure that you create your account with accurate details the first time.
Pay attention to details like your name, location, category, business hours, phone number and service area. They should be consistent with the website and other social media platforms you are using. Also, for your business description, keep it specific and honest. Leave out any unclear information that seems suspicious.
5. Google bugs
Finally, in some instances, your GMB listing can get suspended even if you have everything right or don’t make any changes to it at all. Bugs due to GMB dashboard updates, for example, is one likely reason. Another is Google’s algorithmic sweep. This activity often happens to sensitive industries that have higher chances of spammy or fake listings.
Examples of high-risk business types are criminal lawyers, locksmiths and plumbers. Businesses that handle regulated goods like pharmaceuticals or firearms are also susceptible to mass suspensions. In case this happen, make sure that you are complying with the guidelines before submitting a reinstatement form or request.
Your Google My Business listing may be subject to various suspension reasons. But first things first: don’t panic. While GMB issues can affect your operations, and give you so much stress in the process, the key is to understand why they happen.
What’s important is that you understand every aspect of your GMB profile and follow the guidelines. After all, being an informed and honest owner is your only way to put yourself back to business. For more tips and solutions to recover from a GMB suspension, check back for our article next month!