When you decided to start your own business, did you ever think you would be concerned over the status of a few intangible pixels? Having your Google My Business listing (GMB) suspended can mean losing control of your online presence, decreased visibility, and total invisibility on Google. You hope it will never happen to you, but the truth of the matter is that GMB suspensions are a common occurrence.
So, what exactly is a suspension?
A suspension is when you are unable to manage or make public changes to your Google My Business listing. When you log into your GMB, you'll see a notification stating that your listing has been suspended.
You can still edit the "information" section, however, those changes will not go public until the listing is reinstated.
There are two types of suspensions:
Soft suspensions are the most common type of suspension. This means that your listing has been suspended due to quality issues. The listing will still show on Google and Google Maps. Clients will still be able to call you and you wont suffer from visibility issues.
Hard suspensions are much more detrimental to business. When your listing has received a hard suspension, it will no longer show online. It is possible to have a hard suspension lifted, but you will likely lose any reviews and photos that were previously associated with your GMB.
Why Did My Google Listing Get Suspended?
Because Google likes to play hard-to-get, it's almost impossible to get a straight answer from a Google representative when it comes to why a Google listing has been suspended. However, it's most commonly address issues, duplicate listings, account issues, or algorithm updates.
If you attempt to create a listing using a P.O. Box, FedEx mailbox, UPS mailbox, or any other type of rented mailbox... your listing will be suspended. No ifs, ands, or buts.
A GMB needs to be created using a legitimate address. If you have a storefront location, you can use that address and make sure that there is appropriate signage outside of the building. If you are a service area business (SAB) you can use your home address and choose to hide it from the public.
Also, you need to ensure that your address is set properly. If you're a storefront, and your listing is marked as such, don't add a service area. If you're an SAB, remove your address.
In most cases, if you accidentally create a duplicate listing, you'll simply be notified that it's a duplicate and asked to merge the two. However, there are some cases where duplicate listings can result in suspensions.
If you are attempting to create two separate SAB listings, with different addresses in order to capitalize on the market, overlapping service areas can cause a suspension. Make sure to remove the service area that's duplicated from one of the listings and submit an appeal (more on that later).
An issue with a user on the listing can actually cause it to be suspended. For example, if you add a user to your listing whose account has been flagged for spammy behavior, your listing might be suspended.
If your Google listing is suspended, take a look at the users. Was someone new added recently? If so, remove them as a user and submit an appeal.
If you're the only user on the listing, go to https://www.localguidesconnect.com/. If you see a notification that you're no longer part of the "Local Guides" program, then your account is the issue. If there's no banner, then you're likely looking at another cause for the suspension.
Sometimes it's just the way it goes. An update to the Google algorithm might cause your GMB to be flagged and suspended.
Unfortunately there's not much you can do about this. Just make sure that your listing is up to snuff and submit an appeal.
What Do I Do If My Google Listing Is Suspended
First, remain calm! When a GMB is suspended, no amount of freaking out will solve the problem. Take a deep breath and do the following:
Call Your Digital Marketing Agency
If you're working with a digital marketing agency, give them a call. In most cases, your marketing agency has access to your GMB listing. If they do, they can correct any possible issues and submit an appeal on your behalf.
If they don't have access to your GMB, there's still time to add them on so that they can take care of everything for you.
Just keep in mind that your SEO agency isn't full of magicians. Although they're going to be more knowledgeable than you might, they will have to jump through all the same hoops. So the quickest resolution comes through communicating and providing requested information in a timely manner.
Audit Your Listing
If you manage your GMB on your own, the first thing to do when you find out your listing has been suspended is to review all of the information to ensure it's correct. Here's a quick checklist:
- Your business name is accurate and isn't stuffed with keywords or location tags.
- Your categories accurately reflect the services your business offers.
- Storefront: your address is a real address and not a rented mailbox.
- Storefront: you don't have any service areas listed.
- SAB: your address is hidden.
- SAB: your service areas are set logically. For example, if you're located in Phoenix, AZ you shouldn't be targeting Cincinnati, OH.
- You have business hours listed.
- Your phone number is accurate.
- Your website is accurate.
- Your services, products, and/or description content is on topic and non-offensive.
- Your Google Posts are on topic and non-offensive.
- You can fully trust all of the Users on your listing.
Submit An Appeal
Now that you're sure your GMB is correct and within Google's guidelines, you need to submit your appeal. To do this, click on the "learn more" button that appears in the red suspension box.
You will be taken to a second page and then you will click on the button that says "appeal to be reinstated".
You'll be asked the following:
1) Have you already contacted support about reinstating this listing?
If you've already submitted an appeal, you wont be able to submit a second one. So answer "no" for this question to move forward.
2) Are you the official representative of the company or organization?
Answer "yes" to continue.
3) Did you read the Google My Business quality guidelines, and can you ensure that the page for your business is in compliance?
Basically, is your listing set up correctly? If you followed our checklist, you can comfortably answer "yes" to this question in order to continue with the appeal.
4) Is your organization permanently located at the address (or does it permanently service the area) stated on your page?
5) Have you entered an accurate street address or service area for your business? Addresses at P.O. Boxes and mail receiving agencies are not acceptable.
You should be able to answer "yes" to this question. If you're using a rented mailbox, you'll need to go back and fix that before you can continue.
6) Does your business operate in a service area (ie does your business model require you or an authorized representative of the business to travel to the customer's location)?
If you're a SAB, answer "yes" to this question. If you're a storefront, answer "no".
6a) Do you conduct face-to-face business at your location?
If you answered "yes" to number 6, then you will be asked this question. If you're an SAB, the answer should be "no", you travel to your customers. They don't travel to you.
6b) Did you set your address settings correctly? If you don't conduct face-to-face business at your location, you should not select the "I serve customers at my business address" option.
You should have addressed this already if this was the issue. Answer "yes" to this question to move forward. If you haven't adjusted your address yet, then be sure to return to your listing and make the changes before proceeding.
7) Do you have multiple pages for the same location?
In most cases, the answer here will be "no". However, answer "yes" if you have multiple listings for a legitimate reason or if you are having issues with a duplicate.
8) Businesses with multiple specializations, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple pages to cover all of their specialties. You may create one page per practitioner, and one page for the hospital or clinic at large. Please disable all duplicate pages.
If you answered "yes" to question number 7, you'll be asked this follow up question. Your answers can either be "I have disabled all duplicate pages" or "I have legitimate reason to have multiple pages at the same location". Choose whichever is most accurate.
Once you answer all of these questions, you'll be shown a form to fill out. The form is pretty straight forward.
There are two text boxes where you'll be given the opportunity to share as much information about your listing as possible.
How have you changed your page since it was suspended?
In this box, list everything you corrected. If you fixed an address, updated a category, added business hours, etc. etc. You want to be as specific as possible in this box so that they can see the efforts you made to correct any issues.
In this box, you should explain why your listing should be reinstated. Don't be whiny or rude, that's not going to solve anything. Just be factual about your business. Supply any additional supporting information that you can. I would also suggest adding any certifications or links to photos of your storefront if you have them.
Once you're done, hit submit.
Patience is a Virtue
Now that your appeal has been submitted, all that's left to do is wait. Your appeal will be sent to a Google representative who will review the information you provided and they will make a determination on whether or not it should be reinstated.
You will receive an email if your appeal is approved or denied, however, you will not receive any feedback either way. If your appeal is rejected, no one is going to tell you what you need to fix in order to get reinstated. That's why it's so important that you scrutinize every detail.
Appeals can take anywhere from 1 to 5 weeks to be reviewed, so your patience will definitely be tested. There is no way to speed up the process. You simply have to wait until they reach a verdict.
There are various reasons as to why a Google My Business listing might be suspended; and the severity of the suspension can differ as well. What's important is to remember that your GMB needs to be compliant with all GMB guidelines in order to be reinstated.
It's always a good idea to review every aspect of your GMB before appealing a suspension, even if you think you know the cause, to have the best chance of it being accepted.
And lastly, panicking about a suspension wont help resolve the issue. In fact, it's very likely to make the whole process take longer. So just do your best to remain level headed, address any issues, and exhibit patience.