When there are rules, there are many. Only, rules are meant to be broken…right? Not exactly, and that is particularly the case when it comes to Google local listings.
There are no trick questions and easily misconstrued “suggestions.” Rather, there are straightforward rules that Google outlines, but there are so many that not all are read with a close eye. For that reason, there are instances where a Google local listing gets suspended. There are soft suspensions and hard suspensions, and there are valid reasons for every case. Find out below which are the most common causes for suspension…
Why Am I Suspended?
For starters, Google will not tell you why. Well, why not? Because, as columnist Joy Hawkins states on Search Engine Land, Google isn’t about to let rule-breakers get better at breaking the rules. The more you know about a specific rule, the more loopholes rule-breakers find their way into. Google avoids that by simply stating the rules from the get-go, leaving the rule-following up to you and your business.
When you get on your Google My Business and it is flagged with a suspended label, you cannot manage your listing, and so it becomes unverified. However, with a soft suspension, the listing still appears on Google, Google Maps, and Map Maker. The ranking is the same, and although no suspension is good, this is the “lighter” form of punishment.
To counter this suspension, create a new Google account, re-verify and be a Good Samaritan from this point forward.
Hard Suspensions are the worst of the two as they are far more serious than soft suspensions and much more difficult to appeal. A hard suspension means that the entire listing has been removed–including photos and reviews. Bad news.
The listing disappears in the eyes of Google and leaves you with a ‘nothing-to-lose’ solution: reach out to Google support and ask them to reinstate your listing. However, Hawkins notes that the chances of this are slim-to-none; it’s generally reserved for businesses that, for whatever reason, Google has decided are ineligible to appear on Google Maps.
To avoid suspension (or to avoid suspension a second time around) avoid the nine most notorious offenses:
1. Website Field Contains Forwarding URL
Self-promotion and advertising are all wonderful things, especially in SEO, but honesty is cardinal to Google. In Google My Business, listing a vanity URL that forwards users to a domain not listed will lead to a soft suspension. Avoid listing phone numbers and URLs that redirect users to landing pages.
2. Unnecessary Keywords in Business Name Field
If you own a mattress store, let’s call it “Fred’s Beds,” your business name should be listed as “Fred’s Beds.” Adding unnecessary information (Fred’s Beds: Firm Mattresses, Bed Frames) including hours of operation, directions, and other superfluous details is not allowed.
3. You Operate a Service-Area Business but Didn’t Hide Address
Let ‘s say that you ‘re a freelance piano tuner and you don’t work from a brick-and-mortar store. You’re technically mobile, fixing and tuning pianos at the homes of various customers. Google’s guidelines on service-area business dictate that addresses should only be visible if customers show up at that business address. Therefore, if you list your home address on your local listing when–technically speaking–your business doesn’t have a physical location, you could be setting yourself up for a hard suspension. And poof. There go all your hard-earned reviews and photos, too.
4. Multiple Listings for One Business
Each location should have just one listing. Makes sense, right? If you should have multiple listings for one business, the real one will receive a soft suspension while the duplicate is removed entirely (hard suspension.) Every location gets no more than one listing, and really, that’s only fair.
5. Sensitive Business Type
Although uncommon, certain business operations can be considered sensitive and thus ineligible for Google Plus or Google Maps. For example, firearms, alcohol, and tobacco stores might fall under this category, as they are age restrictive. Regulated goods are permitted if age and geographical restrictions are adhered to, but Google Plus (which verifies listings) doesn’t allow certain business types and may leave your business listing unverified.
6. Business Listing is From a Virtual or Temporary Office or Mail Box
If the address you’re listing is temporary or not the primary location of your business (i.e. not open during regular business hours) it should not be listed. Ranking in different towns and cities is awesome, but getting suspended for trying to make multiple listings from a non-business address will only lead to hard times and a hard suspension.
7. Your Online Business Doesn’t Have a Physical Location
In SEO, everyone wants to get in the local 3-pack and on Google Maps. Unfortunately for businesses that are strictly online, that is simply not possible. In order to create a local page, businesses must have a physical address where customers interact directly with the business. Trying to skip around this rule to improve local ranking will get you suspended, leaving you back at square one.
8. Your Business Operates at a Building You Don’t Own
If you teach guitar lessons at a friend’s music shop, you still do not have the right to list that address on a local listing. Why? Although that is technically your place of business (the only place you teach guitar lessons week by week), it is a location not owned by you and one that you do not have the authority to represent.
9. Spam Filters Attack Your Industry
Maybe you’re following all the rules, dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, but you still wake up to an unwanted suspension. Sometimes it’s the type of industry you work in. Locksmiths have a bad reputation on the Internet for spam, and so even a legitimate locksmith can have a hard time staying on the high road when the filters are tighter and more aggressive in your industry. If this happens, take the case to Google My Business forums so that a Top Contributor can address the problem.
Overall, these are just a handful of reasons as to why a local listing might be suspended. Though they are the most common, be mindful of all the Google My Business guidelines and use your moral compass to keep your business in good standing with Google.
If you do get suspended you can call Google directly at 866-246-6453 and indicate option 3 for a Google My Business representative or visit their help section at https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en .
Lastly, if your Google My Business Listing disappeared and you know it’s not suspended, be sure to read our blog on the subject.