As a digital marketer I often get asked by clients about what they can do to avoid a Google My Business (GMB) Listing Suspension. I know that it can come as a rude shock when you find that your cleaning or restoration business’s Google listing has been suspended. In most instances, business owners aren’t even aware of why their account was suspended. Unless you are familiar and in the complete know about Google’s GMB guidelines and as well as the search giant’s restricted-content guidelines, you will find yourself struggling with what to do next.
If this is something that you are currently facing, or even if you would rather just be prepared, then continue reading to know everything that you should now about how to avoid a Google My Business Listing Suspension.
Google My Business Listing for Small Businesses
Google My Business is one of the best marketing tools for local businesses today. You GMB listing is necessary as it can increase visibility for your brand in Google search results – something that you should as a business take very seriously.
However, at times small errors such as incorrect hours of operation or perhaps a phone number that was changed but not updated, can occur on your GMB listing. When this happens, it can impact your brand’s online marketing efforts.
Last year, Google went on a GMB suspension drive in an effort to reduce spam and ensure that quality businesses got their spot in search engine results pages (SERPs) and on Google maps– and rightfully so. Search engines can serve user interests better only when they deliver the best and most accurate results for user queries. Unfortunately, during this drive a number of legitimate small businesses got their GMB listing removed or suspended by mistake. This came as surprise to the impacted businesses since most of them were diligent in following Google’s recommended guidelines.
However, Google will suspend a GMB listing if it finds that a business has violated its guidelines or if they are at fault – intentionally or unintentionally. The onus pretty much lies on you. So if you don’t want to face a GMB suspension, then it is important that you start by understanding what can cause a GMB suspension and what to do if your business is hit with one.
Understanding Google My Business Suspensions
Before getting down to the issue of how to avoid a GMB listing suspension, it is important to understand the different types of business suspensions. There are two types of GMB suspensions that Google carries out. And depending on the nature of the violation, you might receive either a soft suspension or a hard suspension of your GMB listing.
What is a Soft Suspension?
Typically, if you’ve received a soft suspension, then it indicates that your GMB listing was disabled.
During a soft suspension, your listing will still be visible in Google Search and Google Maps. However, you will not be able to make any changes to any of your business details. Plus, a soft suspension will be labeled as “suspended.”
When a soft suspension happens, you will receive an email from Google stating the following – “Your Google My Business was suspended due to quality issues.”
Only after you have successful addressed the quality issue will you be able to submit an appeal to Google asking for a reinstatement of your GMB listing.
What is a Hard Suspension?
When a hard suspension happens, your GMB listing will be completely removed both from Google search and Google maps. And while you may still access your GMB dashboard, you will not be able to make any new changes (all changes will be rejected) until and unless Google goes ahead and reinstates your business listing.
In order to revoke your GMB listing suspension, you will be required to submit a formal request to Google asking the search giant to reinstate your listing. The entire reinstatement process however, can be pretty extensive and at times be time-consuming and complicated.
Why did you Receive a GMB Listing Suspension?
Ok so your GMB listing got suspended. It would help if you knew the cause for the suspension. However, this is where things can get complicated and very frustrating for businesses – because Google will not provide you with any reason as to why your listing got suspended in the first place. Whatever the reason – Google is the only one who knows why it did what it did!
Having said that, there can be any number of reasons for receiving a GMB listing suspension.
So for example, if you operate in a high-spam industry the suspension could very well be industry specific.
Sometimes it can be something as innocent as you making multiple changes to your GMB listing. Google might simply get suspicious and go ahead and suspend your account.
The point being, the suspension action can come in response to a wide range of reasons. And so even though the search giant will not openly reveal why it has carried out a suspension of your GMB listing, there are a number of red flags that can trigger the suspension.
Some of the most common reasons for a GMB listing include the following;
- If you have stuffed keywords into your GMB listings name.
- If you have created a listing when you are working at a virtual office or operate out of a co-working space address.
- If you made too many changes to your GMB listing during a single session – this kind of activity makes Google suspicious.
- If Google has suspended your owner’s account or if a GMB manager was suspended.
- If you have used a P.O. Box or UPS store address.
- If your business is an online-only business.
- If the URL entered within a GMB listing profile redirects to different website or if it links up to a social media page.
- If the GMB listing was for a storefront but it was changed to a Service Area Business (SAB)
- If the information included within your business listing is different from your business website or if it is different from any of the other online business directories/citations.
- If you have created multiple listings or for someone reason your business has duplicate listings at the same address.
This of course is not an exhaustive list. And it goes without saying that businesses which are either illegitimate or spammy warrant suspension by Google. The aim of Google here is simple – it just wants to serve authentic and the most relevant and accurate search results to its users.
As a business it is your reasonability to ensure that your listing maintains the most updated and accurate information. Not only does this help you in search results, but it also ensures customer interactions are seamless and enriched. Only then can you expect to boost traffic and generate quality leads.
7 Tips on How to Avoid a Google My Business Listing Suspension
Avoiding your GMB listing suspension is something that you should focus on at all costs. As mentioned above, your GMB listing is more than just your brand getting search visibility. It is about providing business information to potential customers who could very well convert if they find that your business meets their requirements.
So a GMB listing suspension is definitely not something you can afford to incur. Here are seven tips you can follow to ensure that your business listing does not get suspended by Google.
- Make sure you avoid choosing a company name that sounds spammy – Keep it real and authentic. Also you want to make sure that the name you use is consistent with your registered company name.
- Ensure that you avoid listing your business in multiple location listings – the exception to this rule is when you actually have separate offices.
- The one thing you definitely want to avoid at all costs is to do keyword stuffing. Don’t create posts and stuff them with keywords. However, it is advisable that you update your posts once a week, at the very least.
- Make sure that the photos you use are yours – you absolutely don’t want to use photos if they don’t belong to you. You know Google can be very forgiving and the last thing you want to do is to use photos that are not yours or are copyrighted.
- Reviews are fantastic and every business needs to work hard to get as many reviews as possible – it really is good for business. However, fake reviews is not the way to go. What you should know is that Google will check the authenticity of your reviews and the search giant can differentiate between authentic and fake reviews. If you still go ahead and do this, then know that you are just setting yourself up for suspension.
- Relevant categories are critical – so you want to make sure that you only select the most relevant categories for your business. So keep your eye on your list of relevant categories as these are often updated. What you can do is to select your prime category and after that go ahead and include a few sub categories if of course they align with a service that you are currently providing.
- Lastly, make sure that you avoid inconsistency with your GMB listings. Information such as your Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) are important as they help Google in establishing the authenticity of your business. What the search giant views within your listings can help in establishing the relevance of your business within the local community.
At the end of the day, the best way to avoid your GMB listing suspension is simply to keep all your business information accurate, honest, and updated. In addition, make sure you keep yourself updated with Google’s GMB guidelines and also on the guidelines on restricted content.
How to get your GMB Listing Reinstated
If you have received a soft suspension, you will have to address the issue first and then submit an appeal to Google asking for a reinstatement of your GMB listing.
Things are a little more complicated and challenging if you have received a hard suspension. Having said that, legitimate businesses that received a GMB listing suspension will find the process somewhat easier.
So if you did receive a suspension, as mentioned above, you will be required to provide proof of your legitimacy by producing relevant or corresponding legal documentation such as your business license as mandated by your state. In addition, you will be asked to produce any professional licensing which is legally necessary, your rental agreements (if applicable), or your electricity or any other utility bills which prove occupancy. You can also produce your tax identification papers.
You will also be required to produce photos or even videos if possible of the physical location of your business – your business logo should be clearly visible in addition to the street address as it appears on your door.
Google of course has a vetted process for checking the authenticity of your claims and if it is satisfied, your reinstatement process should go through successfully.
Google My Business listing is a great tool for cleaning and restoration businesses that want to position themselves in local search results. However, sometimes things can go wrong and you might receive a suspension of your GMB listing for any number of reasons, known or unknown to you.
It is true that the entire process of receiving a GMB listing suspension and then reinstating your GMB listing can be overwhelming and even complicated. If however, you are a legitimate business and you run a clean ship, then you don’t really have to get too stressed out.
A GMB listing suspension as mentioned above can happen unintentionally or there can be a valid reason for the suspension. Either way, follow the advice mentioned above firstly to avoid a suspension in the first place. And if you do receive a suspension, then you can take the necessary steps mentioned earlier to reinstate your GMB listing.