It starts as a regular business day, until you log into your Google My Business dashboard and a notification pops up:
This location has been suspended due to quality issues.
A suspended Google My Business listing can be a serious hit for a local small business. So many local stores, restaurants, hair salons, gyms and daycares rely on GMB to get found by potential customers. According to a research study, Google My Business generates:
- More than 1,000 view per months for 49% of listed businesses
- 5% of all clicks, phone calls or requests for directions
- 84% of all discovery searches.
Moreover, businesses located in Australia receive the highest average number of website clicks and phone calls from GMB.
First Step: Understand What Type of Suspension You Got
There are two types of suspended Google My Business listings:
- Soft suspension
- Hard suspension.
A soft suspension will deactivate your ability to manage your GMB listing. However, the location will continue to appear in searches. Practically, Google un-verifies your business location.
A hard suspension completely removes the business location and it will not appear in searches any longer. Google applies this severe penalty only to businesses that should not be listed on GMB, such as online only businesses, spammers and companies that use black hat SEO tactics.
The Second Step: Do Not Create a New Listing
We will put this up here because a lot of businesses make this mistake. Once they see that they got a suspended Google My Business listing, they go ahead and create another. This will only pave your way to a hard suspension.
Instead, start by reading again, very carefully, the Guidelines for Google My Business. They will help you understand what you have to do to make your listing eligible for reinstatement (more on this topic a little later in the article).
Next, try to understand why this happened to your listing.
Why Does Google Suspend GMB Listings?
The bad news is that the suspension notice or the explanations you get when you click on “Learn more” will not tell you why you got a suspension. However, SEO specialists have identified several trends.
First of all, you should know that many businesses get soft suspensions from time to time. If this is the first time for you, learn from this experience, because it may probably happen again at a later date.
Therefore, here are some reasons why you got a suspended Google My Business listing:
1. Mismatching NAP Information
If the address or phone number for your business on the GMB listing do not match the contact data on your website, Google may decide that this is not a genuine listing for your business.
2. Unacceptable NAP Data
Google does not like the following in the contact details on GMB listings:
- URL redirects
- PO Box addresses
- Co-working/virtual office address
- Trackable phone numbers used for marketing purposes
- Keywords in the business name (such as “John’s Barbecue the Best Grill Restaurant in Perth”).
Once again, we recommend re-reading Google’s Guidelines, because they actually enforce all of them.
3. You Made a Lot of Changes in a Short Period of Time
You should spend time to make sure that all the details in your GMB listing are accurate and complete before you finish editing it. If you come back several times in a matter of days to make edits, Google will treat it as suspicious activity. Thus, you may get a suspended Google My Business listing.
4. Your Business Category Is Considered High Risk
Google pays special scrutiny to several business categories, such as:
- HVAC contractors
- Rehabilitation centres
- Various other home service contractors.
These listings are treated with increased suspicion for all types of account activity. Thus, the actions other business owners perform on their accounts in other industries may be deemed illegitimate in yours.
5. Many Google Users Report Your Listing for Inaccurate Information
Finally, if a sufficient number of people say that your business category or other critical data are incorrect or misleading, Google may decide to suspend your listing. This is why it is a good idea to monitor any suggested changes made by users and to respond to them quickly.
In many cases, there is simply a genuine confusion between your business and another, and you can reply to the user stating what your business actually does. If you find any malicious attempts to discredit your business or get it in trouble with Google, you can report them.
How to Reinstate a Suspended Google My Business Listing
The first thing to do is review the current information on your page and fix whatever may be a breach to Google’s Guidelines. At the same time, check for double listings and remove them.
The most critical aspects you should look for and solve are:
- Business name: no keywords
- Phone and address: perfectly matched to the information on your website
- Business hours: Google does not like 24/7 schedules, stick to the regular 8 am to 6 pm.
Once you are sure that your edited listing is perfectly in line with the rules, submit a Reinstatement Request.
What to Expect after Requesting the Reinstatement of Your Listing
Google has already posted on its page that, due to COVID restrictions, they have a reduced team available to analyse reinstatement requests. Thus, you must be patient. Do not re-submit a request or try to pester the Google team on any other channels of communication.
When you get contacted, you may have to submit proofs that you are the legitimate owner of the business and that you have control over the location. Such proofs may include:
- Business license and/or professional license
- Proof of location occupancy: rental agreement, deed of ownership, utility bills
- Photos of the location, including: storefront logo, street address and number on the door
- Branded company cars parked in front of the location (if any).
Alternately, you may simply have to verify the information with a Google employee via phone or video call. In some cases, you may be requested to provide additional information or documents. Do not lose your temper and respond to this request in a timely manner.
After all, it is in your best interests to see this issue solved as quickly as possible and regain control over your GMB listing. You are only making things difficult for yourself if you do not comply with Google’s requests. They offer you this service for free, so they decide on the rules.
Whatever the process, remember the three rules: be patient, be prompt with providing information, and be polite. Good luck with getting your suspended Google My Business listing reinstated!