A Google My Business account suspension is one of the worst things that can happen to a local business that relies on search traffic to get customers. If it’s happened to you, here’s what you can do.
What is a Google My Business account suspension?
There are two kinds of GMB account suspensions: hard suspensions and soft suspensions.
A hard suspension is where Google removes the GMB listing entirely. When someone searches for your business, they won’t see the knowledge panel with its information. Your website might still turn up, but your business listing won’t.
A soft suspension is where Google basically un-verifies your business profile. Your listing will still show up when people search and you’ll see it in your GMB dashboard. However, you won’t be able to make changes to it.
In general, hard suspensions are for businesses that shouldn’t have a GMB profile in the first place, like exclusively online businesses, or that engage in spammy or “black hat” tactics, like keyword stuffing and buying reviews. Soft suspensions are used for everything else, from simple breaches of the Google My Business guidelines to too many businesses listing at the same address.
How to check if your Google My Business listing is suspended
To check if your GMB listing is suspended, log into your GMB account. If it’s suspended, you’ll see a notification saying so. If you don’t, your listing is all good. Whatever drop in search traffic or calls has you worried is not because of a suspension.
Why did my business get suspended?
One of the most frustrating things about a GMB suspension is Google won’t tell you why it’s happened. They’re constantly trying to remove spammy, fake and suspicious listings, and a lot of that process is automated.
Some of the reasons your listing could be suspended are:
- You’ve made a lot of changes to your listing in a short space of time.
- You’re in a high-spam business, like attorneys, locksmiths and landscapers, and some anti-spam filter has been triggered accidentally.
- Your phone number and address don’t match the ones on your website or other listings.
- You use a P.O. box for an address.
- You have a service area business but list a physical address.
- Your website address redirects to something that isn’t a dedicated website.
- More than one business shares the same address.
- You’ve created multiple listings for the same business.
- You’ve used keywords in your business name. For example, “Harry’s Pizza” is allowed, but “Harry’s Pizza — The Best Pizza in Dallas, Open 24/7” is not.
- Your business isn’t eligible for a GMB listing because it doesn’t have a physical premises or service a specific area.
- Too many Google users have said that the information in the listing is inaccurate.
Your listing can also be suspended if it violates any of the other terms of the Google My Business guidelines. Read through them carefully and check your listing.
How to fix a suspended account
GMB suspensions are pretty common, and fixing a suspended account isn’t too hard. You just have to correct whatever issue Google has with your listing and then request reinstatement.
First, look over your listing and make sure it abides by the GMB guidelines perfectly. You want every “t” crossed and “i” dotted correctly. Now is not the time to try and slip an extra keyword into your business name. If you’ve got multiple listings, disable all the others.
Next, make sure all the information on the listing—in particular, the phone number, address, website and opening hours—matches the information on your website. If your business isn’t open 24/7, don’t say it is.
Once you’ve got everything squared away, submit a request for reinstatement. You’ll have to re-verify your business listing and provide proof that it’s a physical premises at the address listed and that you’re the rightful owner. You’ll also need to confirm that it meets all the guidelines and explain what changes you’ve made to the listing since it was suspended.
Google claims that most appeals are reviewed and resolved within three business days. If you haven’t heard back or your request is rejected and you want to re-appeal it, contact them directly.
While your request for reinstatement is ongoing, don’t create a new listing or request reinstatement multiple times. This will just confuse the process.
How to stop your listing being suspended again
If your listing meets Google’s eligibility criteria and follows all the right guidelines, and you’re the rightful operator, then your GMB listing should be swiftly reinstated.
To make sure it doesn’t get suspended again:
- Keep all the information, especially opening hours, up to date across both your GMB listing and website.
- Don’t update or change your listing unnecessarily.
- Make sure any updates you do make don’t break any of the guidelines.
It’s also a good idea to respond to reviews and post pictures to your listing. Not only does it show Google your business is real, but it increases the likelihood you’ll get listed at the top.