Why Google MY Business Listings Get Suspended and Steps to Follow to Get them Reinstated
In June 2019 Google made amendments to their spam filters, as a result, spates of legitimate business listings were suspended leaving business owners and SEO gurus equally as confused. Plenty of people took to Twitter and online forums for answers, only to find that everyone else was as in the dark as they were.
Eventually, Google updated their business help centre site and stated that they were receiving an unprecedented number of queries regarding suspended listings. The good news was that you could appeal against the suspension, the bad news was that it could take up to three weeks for the appeal to be processed.
Google may not have been forthcoming about the new rules around business listings at the start, but now, there is substantial information online which can help you from getting your Google listings suspended in the future.
What Happens When Your Business Listing is Suspended?
When a business listing is suspended, it will still be visible on your dashboard, however, the public won’t be able to view it, nor will the listing appear on Google Maps or Google search anymore.
You won’t be informed why your business listing has been suspended, you will simply see the suspended status of your listing along with the following reasoning “This location has been suspended due to quality issues”.
Even if you do manage to speak directly with Google, the chances of you finding out why your Google listing was suspended is still fairly low. Naturally, businesses and SEO marketers are being advised to ensure that their listings comply with Google’s My Business guidelines before listings are submitted for approval.
However, you’ll need to bear in mind that the information available is more of a set of guidelines than the actual rules put in place by Google.
Why Do Google Listings Get Suspended?
- Address Issues
To put it simply, your business listing must contain your physical address. There must also be someone available to make in-person contact customers during your opening hours.
Avoid using PO boxes, UPS store addresses, or remote mailboxes, and note that online-only businesses are not eligible for business ads.
Issues may also arise if you have duplicate listings for the same business, or if another business shares your exact location. With this in mind, it is important to check on Google Maps if any businesses have live business listings which use your exact location before you create your new business listing. If you do find live listings using your address, you can request that they are permanently closed.
- Virtual Office Addresses
Even if you use the address of a virtual office, there’s the chance that your listing will be suspended. Google states that addresses must match your primary business address, and this business address should be staffed during your stated business hours.
- High-Risk Business Listings
Traders offering home services such as plumbers, locksmiths, and builders often have a harder time avoiding the spam traps set up by Google. If your business falls under this category, it is advised that you refrain from making multiple edits at once as this is likely to land you with a suspension.
- Suspiciously Spammy Tactics
Everyone wants their business to have a good online presence and get noticed but using spammy tactics will more than likely get your listings suspended altogether. Never use fake reviews or be tempted to keyword-stuff your business listings.
- Advertising Prohibited Content or Services
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. All Google Business listings must be legitimate, all listings promoting fraudulent and illegal activities will be suspended. Furthermore, Google will suspend illegitimate businesses from using Google My Business entirely.
- URL Issues
The web details included in your business listings must be your website URL and not social media pages or landing pages.
- Listing Amendments
It is not only new business listings which are at risk of being suspended. Adding to or amending your business listings can also see your listing being suspended – even if the GMB dashboard prompts you to add to the listings.
When asked why amended listings were so frequently suspended, Google responded with the following statement “In efforts to ensure that the data that appears on Google Search and Maps is as accurate as possible, some factual listings may have been erroneously suspended.”
To avoid a listing suspension, refrain from making too many edits or optimisations at the same time as this may be flagged as suspicious.
- Account Suspensions
It’s not only your listings which can be suspended, but your Google Business account too. Any violation of Google’s Terms of Service can result in suspension of listings and accounts. Similarly, if multiple of your listings get suspended this could lead to an account suspension.
How to Get Suspended Listings Reinstated
There are three simple steps to follow if your Google Business Listings get suspended:
- Submit a Reinstatement Request Form.
Google advises to send one reinstatement request form at a time and avoid sending multiple.
- Contact GMB on Social Media
If three weeks have passed and you’re still without a resolution, you can send direct messages to GMB via Facebook or Twitter. Note that it may take several days for a response from GMB social media teams. When contacting the team on social media always include your dashboard link.
- Collate Your Business Information
In some cases, to reinstate your listing Google will require additional evidence. This may include photos of your business storefront and signage, copies of your business licence or business mail.
Top Tips on How to Avoid Suspension of Business Listings
- It is recommended that you familiarise yourselves with Google My Business guidelines before submitting any listings. As they are subject to change, you’ll need to regularly check for updates.
- Always remain consistent with your company information. This includes your name, address, other contact details and website.
- Always check beforehand that no other businesses are using your exact business location.
- Display accurate, clear and permanent signage if your business has a physical location.