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So… Your Google My Business Listing Got Suspended. Now What?
It was an average Tuesday morning for the owner of a local HVAC company. He had his morning coffee, scrolled through the news on his iPhone, and logged onto his Google My Business Account to update his business hours for an upcoming holiday.
Right there, next to his business name in bright red letters, was the word SUSPENDED.
Understandably, the business owner freaked out. If you’ve ever been in the same situation, you’d do the same.
Your Google My Business listing is vital to the success of your business—64% of consumers have used Google My Business to find contact details or reviews for local businesses, and not having one can eliminate you from local search results.
It’s a bad day for the business owner whose GMB listing gets suspended. Unfortunately, that’s been happening more and more frequently lately. If you’re one of the business owners who’s recently had your Google My Business listing suspended, I have good news and bad news:
The Good News: It’s fixable if you know why your listing was suspended.
The Bad News: Google won’t tell you why your listing was suspended.
Since Google won’t tell you, I will. Remember that HVAC company owner I mentioned above? Not only did we solve his issue and get his listing reinstated, but we’ve also done it for many of our other clients as well—and we’ve learned a thing or two about GMB suspensions in the process. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about Google My Business suspensions, including the different types, common causes of suspensions, and what to do if your listing got hit.
Why Google Suspends Google My Business Listings
I’ll get into common causes of a suspension a little further down, but there’s really one reason Google suspends listings: Google wants searchers to get the absolute best search results. Trust plays a huge role in that, so Google wants searchers to have the most up-to-date, accurate information.
Types of GMB Suspensions
Not all GMB suspensions are created equal, and there are a few terms you should get to know:
- Soft suspensions vs. hard suspensions
- Listing suspensions vs. account suspensions
Soft Suspension vs. Hard Suspension
Soft Suspension: In a soft suspension your business has really just become unverified. You’re able to log in to your GMB listing and you see a “suspended” label but your listing still shows up on Google and Google Maps. What’s happened is they’ve removed your ability to manage the listing, but the listing itself remains intact.
Hard Suspension: You’ve really gotten yourself into trouble here. In a hard suspension, your entire listing has been removed from Google. When you pull up the record for it, it will say “removed.” Your only option is to ask Google to reinstate it.
Listing Suspension Vs. Account Suspension
Google has separate suspensions based on the issue—listing suspension and account suspensions.
Listing Suspension: The public can’t access the listing anymore. The owner and managers can’t take actions on its behalf, though they can still make edits and appeal to be reinstated. If the listing is reinstated, Google will also reinstate the owner and managers.
Account Suspension: If they remove the owner’s Google Account: They’ll also remove all of the listings owned by that user. If they reinstate the owner’s Google Account, they’ll also reinstate the listings. If they remove a manager’s Google Account: They’ll suspend the manager on the listings they manage, but the listings themselves will be unaffected. If they reinstate the manager’s Google Account, the manager will automatically regain managerial access to the listings.
We recently had a case where one of our client’s accounts was suspended, and it turned out the cause was that one of the listing managers—an employee of their previous marketing agency—had violated the guidelines. Once we removed that person’s access to the listing, the listing was reinstated.
Common Causes of a Suspended GMB Listing
Local SEO is all about making sure you show up for local searches that include map listings. In order for that to happen, your GMB listing needs to be 100% accurate and trustworthy. Most of the causes of suspended listings have to do with this local consistency. Below are the most common reasons a listing gets suspended:
- Another business shares your address or has the same address
- The address on your website is different than the one on your business listings
- The address, name, or phone number on your directory listings, like Yelp, do not match the address on your GMB page
- Any part of your address, primary categories, business name, website, or phone number has recently changed
- You’ve added extra keywords into your business name
- Your business name isn’t accurate across the web
- You’re a service-area business that didn’t disable your physical address
- Your address is virtual or a P.O. box
- Your business doesn’t make in-person contact with customers (like an online shop)
- Your primary category is a high-risk industry that has a higher level of scrutiny:
- HVAC/heating and cooling
- Other home services businesses
- Your website listed has a forwarding URL
- There are multiple listings for the same business or location
- There are multiple businesses claiming to be at your address
These are not the only reasons Google suspends business listings, but are the most common causes. Learn how to optimize your GMB listing here »
What to Do if Your Google My Business Listing Gets Suspended
If you’ve read all the above and still can’t figure out why your listing/account was suspended, your next step is to reach out to Google’s GMB support. They may require you to send them proof that you own your business, and that it’s legitimate. This proof includes:
- State business license (if required by the state)
- Professional licensing (if required by law)
- Proof of occupancy of the location
- Utility bills
- Rental agreements/deeds
- Photos of the business location in which:
- The business logo is clearly visible
- The street address of the building/suite numbers are on the door
- Company vehicles with logos are parked at the building
- Tax identification papers
Of late, our analysts have noticed a higher amount of requests for a storefront photo when getting listings reinstated. It’s a good idea to have this handy in case it’s needed for reinstatement.
If you’ve done all the above and THAT doesn’t work (and you don’t have the budget for an agency like ours that has a Premier Partnership with Google), you can try your luck with posting your issue on an SEO forum like Local Search Forum. If you can’t get help there and your suspension is impacting your revenue, you need to hire an agency to handle it.
Prevent a GMB Suspension
First, make sure the only people that have access to manage the business listing are employees that currently work on the account. Remove access to any previous vendors or employees or else it could bite you in the rear.
Second, make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is consistent across the web and your Google My Business page is completely filled out and optimized.
As for the listing itself, the best way to fix a suspension is to avoid one in the first place by following Google’s guidelines for representing your business:
“Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are. Creating a successful listing that won’t be suspended requires avoiding prohibited content, accurately reflecting your business, and complying with the rest of the policies below.
We’ve come up with a list of guidelines for local businesses to maintain high quality information on Google. Following these guidelines helps avoid common problems, including changes to your information, or, in some cases, removal of your business information from Google.
For best results using Google My Business:
- Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding.
- Make sure your address and/or service area is accurate and precise.
- Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.
Brands, organizations, artists, and other online-only businesses aren’t eligible for Google My Business listings.
Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.
For example, if you were creating a listing for a 24-hour coffee shop in downtown San Francisco called Shelly’s Coffee, you would enter that business information as:
- Business name: Shelly’s Coffee
- Address: 3247 Poppy Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
- Hours: Open 24 hours
- Category: Coffee shop
Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended. Refer to the specific examples below to determine what you can and can’t include in your business name.
To pick a unique short name, try to use words that represent your business name, brand, location, or other description. For example, you can use your business name with your location, like your city or neighborhood.
Keep your short name simple so you can easily promote it, and customers can remember it.
Use a precise, accurate address and/or service area to describe your business location. P.O. boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.
Website and phone
Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, or provide one website that represents your individual business location.
- Use a local phone number instead of central, call center helpline number whenever possible.
- Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or “refer” users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business, including pages created on social media sites.
- The phone number must be under the direct control of the business.
- Additional phone numbers can be used on Google My Business websites and other local surfaces.
Provide your regular customer-facing hours of operation. If applicable, you may use your current seasonal hours as your regular hours. You may also specify special hours for particular days, like holidays or special events.
Categories help your customers find accurate, specific results for services they’re interested in. In order to keep your business information accurate and live, make sure that you:
- Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.
- The main category is the one that shows up most frequently, so to select the highest priority/most accurate category as the main category
- Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.
- Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
- Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business.
Looking for a Local SEO Agency? You’re In the Right Place.
We’ve solved hundreds of listing issues for our clients and include GMB management as part of our SEO packages. We’re a Google Premier Partner, a distinction reserved for the top 3% of Google partner agencies in the United States, so we know a thing or two about Google’s guidelines. In short, if you’re looking for a local SEO agency to handle your local SEO, we’re a phone call away.
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's Digital Content Manager. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod