A Google My Business (GMB) account suspension is a serious setback for any business seeking to improve its local organic traffic. Business owners can find themselves in hot water if their GMB accounts provide incorrect or inconsistent information about a business’s service area or address, service or product offerings, operating hours, and so on.
Having a GMB listing suspended can create major problems for your local presence in search, leaving you with either no listing at all or a listing that you have no control over. Read on to find out how to avoid getting your business account suspended from GMB and how to reinstate it if it does.
Reasons why your listing can get suspended
Google wants to ensure users have access to consistent high-quality search results. Ultimately, this benefits everyone involved in the sales process—cleaner search results lead to more streamlined user experiences, which make customer interactions and generating sales leads much more likely.
Unfortunately, Google’s strict attention to detail sometimes makes it hard to meet their standards. GMB listings can be suspended for all kinds of reasons. Many of these reasons—such as keyword stuffing (the practice of shoehorning keywords into web page content) or making false claims about a business’s service offerings—are obvious. But minor, harder-to-spot mistakes in filling out a listing can also lead to suspension.
Common reasons your GMB listing can get suspended include the following:
- Mistakes or variations of your business name appear online.
- Multiple businesses claim to operate from your address.
- Recent changes to your address, categories, name, website, or phone number have appeared on your listing.
- The NAP (name, address, and phone number) on your GMB page does not match what’s found on directory listings. Be as consistent as possible with GMB, but don’t stress over exact phone formatting, abbreviations, or suite numbers.
- You have multiple listings for the same business and/or location.
- You’ve used keyword stuffing to artificially improve your search engine ranking.
- You’re listed as a service-area business but neglected to disable your physical address. Home service businesses are already considered high risk.
- Your business is not a brick and mortar (i.e., it’s an online store or virtual service). P.O boxes are not acceptable.
- Your listed website is a forwarding URL.
Frustratingly, Google will tell you your account has been suspended, but not why. You may need to reach out to Google directly for an answer, though response times are slow. In a worst-case scenario, this can take several weeks. The reinstatement process also takes time to complete. During that period and depending on your suspension type, potential new customers are far less likely to find your business. For these reasons, it’s best to do everything you can to get this problem resolved as quickly as possible.
Types of GMB Suspensions
How you should try to resolve a GMB suspension depends on its nature. Is it a “soft” or “hard” suspension? Has your manager or owner account been suspended? Below are the types of suspension Google hands out:
- Soft suspension: A soft suspension means your business has, for some reason, been labeled as unverified. If you get hit with a soft suspension, when you log in to your GMB account, you’ll see a suspension notice, but your listing will still show up on Google and Google Maps. Your ability to manage it will be revoked until you provide proof of verification.
- Hard suspension: A hard suspension is a serious problem. Google has determined your listing violates their guidelines or is otherwise ineligible for a listing. If you get hit with a hard suspension, when you log in to your account, you won’t be able to call up your listing record and will receive a removal notification.
- Manager account suspension: Account suspensions fall into two categories: manager or owner suspensions. A manager suspension removes a manager’s ability to work with a listing, but the listing remains unaffected.
- Owner account suspension: An owner account suspension completely removes an owner’s Google account. All listings will be removed, as will all reviews. Successfully reinstating the account will reinstate listings, but it’s possible any reviews will be lost.
What to do if you get suspended
If Google does suspend your listing, you should first check it against GMB guidelines and Google’s restricted-content guidelines. For quality assurance purposes, Google takes a very strict approach to maintaining the accuracy and relevancy of listings on its platform. Make sure that yours is up to date and filled out correctly, according to provided instructions. Once you’re sure your listing is error-free, you can submit a reinstatement request through GMB’s Help page.
To resolve a soft suspension, open a new Google account and reclaim the listing. You’ll have to complete the entire verification process anew, making sure you meet all guidelines and resolve the issue that caused the suspension.
To resolve a hard suspension, you really only have one option: contact Google to determine the cause of the suspension, send it a local business reinstatement request, and promptly resolve the issue when you regain access to the listing.
Google often requires you to send proof documenting your business ownership, its physical location, and its legitimacy. You may be asked to submit the following:
- A utility bill with the same billing address as the GMB
- Legal documentation such as a business license or tax form, both of which must list the same address listed in your GMB profile
- Proof of physical address, such as a storefront image with both signage and address, including a suite number if applicable
- Proof you are nor sharing office space with another business
- Your GMB listing’s dashboard URL to confirm the business profile
Additionally, you may need to change the business name on your GMB listing to reflect the name on your signage. Google recommends uploading a photo of the company signage to your profile or if you share a building space, a picture of your building’s directory. You may also need to remove account access from users who engage in activities Google forbids, such as keyword stuffing or review gating.
How to manage your GMB profile and prevent another suspension
GMB is an active platform—you’ll need to pay close attention to it to make sure that your listing reflects any changes to your service offerings, hours, location, etc. Simply filling out your GMB listing and leaving it to attract customers on its own is risky for several reasons. As your business gathers profiles on other platforms and receives mentions on social media, inconsistent information in the form of inaccurate business names, addresses, and contact information can add up. Such inconsistencies make it more likely that Google will suspend your listing.
Since reinstating a suspended account takes time and effort better spent taking care of your business, preventing a suspension is the best way to ensure you have a healthy online presence and are attracting customers. What’s the best way to prevent this from happening? Be proactive and far less reactive. If you aren’t checking it everyday, try to check it at least once a week. If you aren’t checking it once a month, well, that might be where your problem lies. Be consistent and make a routine out of auditing your GMB listing’s performance and engagements.
To update the information in your GMB profile, log on to GMB, choose the business you’d like to work with, and select Info from the left-hand menu. As you make your changes, click Apply to save them.
From your business account, you should set up your GMB listing to include:
- Business name
- Business category
- Business hours
- Phone number & other contact information
- Service area
This helps potential customers performing local searches find your business quickly. Again, make sure this information is consistent across your social media accounts—inconsistent listings can lead to a suspension, which can hurt any local business marketing effort.
By making sure that you have all forms filled out correctly and your listing contains no inaccuracies, you lower your risk of getting your listing suspended and missing out on valuable traffic to your website. In addition, make sure that the description of your service offering is as accurate and specific as possible—being broad or vague about what your business does could be seen as an attempt to capture undeserved traffic for your website.
Set yourself up for success from the start by making sure that any information you enter into the GMB form is accurate and current. Regular checkups and updates demonstrate to Google that the business associated with the listing is legitimate and of high quality, further decreasing your chances of winding up with a costly suspension.