My Google Listing Got Suspended… Now What?
At the end of June 2019, Google seemed to turn up the dial on whatever spam filters they do have (this is a big gripe in the local SEO community) and there was an explosion of tweets and forum posts about Google My Business listing suspensions. Soon after, Google added a banner to the top of their My Business help center guides stating that they were “receiving a high volume of questions about suspended listings.” The banner also broke the bad news: it may take at least 2-3 weeks to process an appeal.
Now, more than four weeks later, many businesses don’t know the status of their reinstatement request or what might have gotten their listing suspended in the first place.
Why Did My Google Listing Get Suspended?
When a Google My Business listing gets suspended, the public can’t see your listing on Google search or in Google Maps results anymore. You’ll still be able to view your listing from within your dashboard and make edits. On the home screen of your GMB dashboard, the explanation for suspension is limited to: “This location has been suspended due to quality issues.”
If you’re wondering what those “quality issues” might be, you’re not alone. Even if you get in contact with Google, there’s a really low chance they’ll tell you exactly what got your listing suspended. The best place to start is with the Google My Business guidelines to make sure your listing is compliant.
Some of the most common reasons we see listings get suspended have to do with the address. In the simplest of terms, your listing must show your actual, real-world address and you must make in-person contact with customers during your hours of operation.
- Using a PO box, remote mailbox or UPS store address are all no-nos and have been for a long time.
- Online-only businesses are not eligible for listings.
- Service-area businesses must hide their address field.
- You cannot have multiple listings for one business (duplicates).
- If another business shares your exact address, your listing may be at risk of suspension.
In our experience, the listings that are still suspended after this particular spike are associated with virtual office addresses. According to the Google My Business guidelines, “If your business rents a temporary, “virtual” office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours by your business staff.”
High Risk Category
If you’re in a high risk category (like locksmiths, plumbers, HVAC and other home services) expect to be under a microscope. Making multiple edits at once to listings in home service categories can flag your listing and land you a suspension.
While businesses that implement spammy tactics don’t get caught often enough, serious recurring spam like keyword-stuffing your business name, creating a fake listing or purchasing fake reviews could get your listing suspended. Just don’t.
According to the guidelines, illegal and fraudulent activities may result in an account suspension and listing suspension. Google reserves the right to suspend users and businesses from Google My Business and other Google services for violating the guidelines.
Forwarding Website URL
Don’t use a URL that redirects users to a landing page or social media page. Only use this field for your website URL.
Other Known Issues
If you aren’t making any of the above mistakes and still got hit with a suspension, it could be due to a few other factors that were happening around the time of this spike in suspensions.
Some account owners are scratching their heads after their business listings were suspended shortly after adding factual additional business details that even the GMB dashboard was even prompting them to add.
Google Product Expert Ben Fisher has responded to posts about this on the GMB community forum, stating
“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.”
Hat tip to Joy Hawkins for letting us know that making more than a couple edits at once could flag your listing for suspension. Even if you’re adding details that Google is prompting you for and trying to get that “Complete your listing” status to 100%, the volume of edits might be considered suspicious.
Space out your optimizations over several days to reduce your risk.
On top of all this, there was a bug in GMB for some listings that added the new short name feature. Removing the short name would reverse the listing suspension. This bug is reportedly fixed as of mid July 2019.
Account Suspensions vs. Listing Suspensions
Google can also suspend user accounts, not just listings. When an account gets suspended for violating Google’s Terms of Service, it also results in the suspension of any listings it owns.
If you’ve noticed multiple listings associated with the same account get a suspension, it could be an account suspension. In this case, you want to identify the account that’s the culprit, stop any activities that could be violating the Terms of Service or that appear suspicious. Then, request reinstatement. If Google reinstates a Google account, they’ll also reinstate the suspended listings it owns.
How Can I Get My Listing Reinstated?
#1. Submit a single reinstatement request form. Google has advised not to submit multiple reinstatement requests for the same listing as it’s just adding to the pile they’re working through.
Be aware, that it is possible you’ll end up waiting longer than a few weeks…
#3. Prepare photos of your storefront, signage, business license and business mail in case Google asks for more evidence for reinstatement.
5 Things You Can Do to Prevent a Suspension
#1. Read the Google My Business guidelines and follow them. Check regularly for updates.
#2. Create only one listing per business/location. Before you create a listing, do your due diligence to make sure a listing doesn’t already exist for that business.
#3. Use consistent and accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) data on your Google My Business listing, website and other citations.
#4. If your business has a physical location, display clear, accurate and permanent signage. If your business is a service-area business, hide your address to be compliant.
#5. Don’t use spammy tactics that might help you in the short term but cut off your local traffic and conversions in the future.
Have you had to deal with a suspend listing before? What steps did you take to get the listing reinstated? Let us know in the comment section below.