Your Google My Business Profile has Been Suspended – What to Do Next
Google My Business is a critical asset, and oftentimes your listing can make or break your SEO success. But as with any service, the desire to stand out and rank high on Google My Business may end with your business listing being taken down or suspended, oftentimes with little to no explanation.
When your profile is slapped with a ban, your first instinct may be to assume it was in error; on the other hand, maybe you assume you were doing something spammy, or something against Google’s Terms of Service. In my experience, however, I have seen many businesses receive a suspension despite not engaging in any obvious malicious or spammy activity.
Verify What Type of Suspension You Have
Before going into panic mode, your first should be to identify what kind of suspension your account was slapped with. Some suspensions are more forgiving than others, so depending on your circumstances, your options for restoring your account will differ. There are levels of suspension, and they range in severity; they are a result of minor to major issues flagged by Google.
Google breaks down its tiers of suspension as soft, hard, manager account, and owner account suspensions:
- 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.
Soft account suspensions, while not ideal, aren’t the end of the world. The same goes for manager account suspensions since both do not affect your business listing and do not require as much of a timesuck on your part to get overturned. This is the better case scenario since your listing is still unaffected. So while you process an appeal, your listing will still be available, and your customers shouldn’t be affected.
Now, if you happen to be unlucky enough to be slapped with a hard suspension, or an owner account suspension, you have more work to do. In cases like these, your listing ends up being removed while the suspension is in place, so time and moving quickly are of the essence.
Luckily, there are concrete, actionable steps you can take immediately towards getting your suspension removed.
What to do When Your Listing is Suspended
If your business listing has been hit with a suspension, you should first off, start verifying that your business meets Google My Business guidelines, and adheres to their Terms of Service. These are often the initial grounds for causing Google to suspend your listing.
However, let’s say that your business does not violate their ToS, and that you’re unclear as to what happened. What I recommend is the following:
Do you have other Google My Business Profiles with similar business information that Google perceives as a duplicate?
Part of Google’s job, and what makes it such a powerful search engine, is its ability to optimize and ensure duplicate entries are not occurring on its My Business service, to make searching easier for users. Oftentimes, businesses will try to beat the system and create fake profiles and duplicate listings to appear in as many searches as possible. Obviously, this leads to a poorer user experience, so Google flags these instances of duplicate entries, sometimes erroneously.
These situations can occur if, say, you operate multiple storefronts in different geographical areas, but your business profile does not specify that. Google sees these as duplicate listings of the same profile, and will issue a suspension. During times like these, you will have to contact Google’s representatives to clarify your multiple storefronts, and they should instruct you how to do so when they reinstate your profile.
This will be relevant later on, and I’ll touch on it, but to prevent this from occurring, it is best to separate and specify geographical locations and separate profiles for each storefront of your business.
Is your business information correct on the Google My Business listing and your website?
Your business can get flagged for suspension by Google’s system when there is incorrect, or conflicting information between your lising and site. For example, things as minor as name misspellings, address or phone number errors can trigger a suspension, as well as incorrect sites. Further, this is not limited to just your Google My Business profile; if your business information is not correct on your business’ website, that can set off a suspension because Google detects the mismatch.
It’s always a good idea to double check your information is correct on both your Google My Business and website to mitigate the risk of getting flagged for suspension. These can happen even when the mistakes are minor. For instance, I’ve seen cases where Google My Business flags a business where they have updated their website, and their phone number was one digit off.
Being one digit off seems small, but Google takes these discrepancies very seriously. In this case, it flagged the Google My Business page for suspension. Minor mistakes can be hard to catch, so attention to detail is critical.
Does your Google My Business profile have an image of your storefront, signage and interior of the business?
Google values verification, since it eliminates the ambiguity of potential spam on their Google My Business service. Having a photo of your storefront and signage may be all you need to reverse a suspension if this is the grounds by which Google My Business based their decision on. To Google, proof a business actually exists is crucial to remaining optimized for their user’s experience.
If you do not already have one up, put a photo up on your profile showing:
Besides adding legitimacy to your business in the eyes of potential clients and/or consumers, this signals to Google that your business is a real operation that is verifiable. This is also important for Google to verify that your business actually exists in the location you specify.
For new Google My Business profiles, you may need these photos to be uploaded prior to getting verified. Oftentimes, these types of suspensions happen to older accounts in the early days of the service where it was not required to upload photo proof to create a Google My Business profile. To those of you reading this where this is the case, you might want to upload your photos as soon as possible in order to avoid this outcome.
Submitting Reinstatement Form
So now you have verified, correct your information, and put your photos up for Google to see, now all you have to do is submit the reinstatement form. Doing so will being the process of review for your Google My Business profile, and it will give you a chance to argue your case for reinstatement.
This is the stage where you will be able to appeal to Google, get their attention, and get your listing back online to continue serving your clients.
The appeals form and the process described can be found here:
The Reasons for Suspension Are Many
At the heart of the issue, there are myriad reasons Google can flag your listing for suspension, and each business’ circumstance is unique. It’s impossible to design a step-by-step troubleshooting guide for every situation. However, if you feel that you have a unique case and do not know where to turn, I have listed a few of my favorite places to find answers.
This forum is one of my favorites for troubleshooting issues with SEO services. It is led by Joy Hawkins and the team from Sterling Sky, and it also includes leaders in Local SEO who assist people with their GMB and SEO questions. The forum balances community and expert input to create an environment that is helpful, useful, and responsive to your individual circumstances. While I don’t frequent the forum as often as I used to, the community is thriving and I am very appreciative of their expertise.
The in-house support service for Google My Business is surprisingly helpful in most cases, but their documentation is somewhat vague, and not specific enough to capture every issue with suspensions. It is a good starting point, though, for figuring out how to tackle your suspension in the broadest strokes.
When I have issues with Google’s overzealous suspension policies, I use a combination of these platforms to help find the problem in my listing. With the help of the community of LSF combined with Google My Business Support guidelines, solving your suspension should be made easier.
Getting your profile on Google My Business suspended can be a stressful experience; on top of the stresses of just running your business, having to solve a suspension on your account that may rob you of your sales can be devastating. During times like these, we’re dedicated towards making the appeal process as quick and easy to understand as possible.
Moving swiftly, verifying your facts and data can make all difference in how fast your profile is reinstated. My parting advice is to pay attention to detail and ensure that you make enough changes to your pipeline as possible.
There have been times where I’ve made individual changes thinking my single action will solve the problem only to prolong the process, further. Ensure that your changes reflect Google My Business guidelines, and make more changes on everything to keep your profiles clean and tight. Doing so will give you the best chance for quick reinstatement.