Causes and Fixes for Google Business Profile Suspensions
The Role of a Google Business Profile (GBP) in Local Businesses
For any business focusing on local clients, their Google Business Profile is like a digital lifeline. It’s incredible but true: experiencing a suspension from Google can lead to a staggering 90% drop in customer calls, potentially destroying business activities to a deadlock.
Many business owners initially view their GBP primarily as a marketing tool, not fully realizing its importance as a necessary business support. Unfortunately, it’s no longer accessible. Believing your business is safe from suspension? It’s time to reconsider. Statistically, about 35% of Google Business Profiles face suspension annually.
What Does a Google Business Profile Suspension Mean?
A suspension occurs when your business’s free listing on Google and Google Maps becomes invisible or uncontrollable from your account. Essentially, Google questions the legitimacy of your listing, leading to its suspension.
Identifying the Severity of Your GBP Suspension
There are two primary types of suspensions:
This is a critical situation where your listing is entirely removed from Google and Google Maps. In such cases, your business not only loses visibility but also risks losing its reviews.
These are generally linked to issues with a user on the account. In a soft suspension, your listing remains visible in searches but becomes ‘disabled,’ meaning you cannot edit or manage it. Your listing is ‘unverified’ during this time, making it susceptible to external edits or removal requests.
What are Common Triggers for Google Business Profile Suspensions
Understanding what can lead to a suspension of your Google Business Profile is crucial. Here are the main triggers:
1. Algorithmic Sweeps:
Google occasionally conducts what’s known as an ‘algorithmic sweep.’ A notable instance of this occurred in June 2019, leading to a significant rise in suspensions. That involves an automated review of certain business categories tending to fake listings, like locksmiths and plumbers.
Algorithmic sweeps are the most frequent cause of suspensions and also the hardest to troubleshoot. Your profile could be affected for reasons ranging from listing your business hours as 24/7 to incorrectly setting up your address.
2. Account-Related Issues:
Sometimes, the problem lies not with the business profile itself but with the associated Google account. Consider an SEO agency representative like Need Momentum, which makes multiple spammy map edits, or a user violating Google’s guidelines in other ways. If such an account is suspended, it often leads to a blanket suspension of all listings managed under it.
If you’re managing multiple profiles and find some suspended while others are not, the problem might be with a specific manager’s account. In such scenarios, you should either switch the primary owner of the affected profiles to a new Google account (preferably connected to GSuite) or remove all managers to resolve the issue.
3. Manual Suspensions:
Manual suspensions occur when a report often follows a report submitted through the spam redressal form. If a Google reviewer holds any doubts about a profile, a soft suspension is likely, where your business remains on Google Maps but is flagged for review. To lift such a suspension, you’ll need to navigate through the reinstatement process.
Guiding Google Business Profile Suspensions: Common Causes and Solutions
In any suspension scenario, your first step should be to file for reinstatement. Here’s a breakdown of common suspension triggers and how to address them:
1. Listing a Business as ‘Open 24 Hours’
- Issue: Listing your business as open 24/7 when it’s not actually staffed round-the-clock.
- Solution: Adjust your business hours to reflect actual operating times, like 9 AM to 5 PM. Remember, Google is interested in knowing when your physical premises are open, not just your phone lines.
2. Over-optimizing business Name with Keywords
- Issue: Adding extra keywords to your business name in GBP.
- Solution: Your GBP should mirror the business name as it’s officially registered and as customers recognize it—on signage, business cards, etc. Remove any added keywords to avoid confusion.
3. Using Virtual Offices or Co-working Spaces as Business Addresses
- Issue: Registering a virtual office or co-working space as your business address.
- Solution: Ideally, avoid this practice as it often attracts investigation and competitive reporting. If necessary, be ready to provide substantial proof of your business’s legitimacy at that location.
4. Address Modifications
- Issue: Changing your business address might sometimes trigger a suspension.
- Solution: Document both your old and new addresses thoroughly. Present this information during the reinstatement process.
5. Creating Duplicate Listings
- Issue: Having multiple listings for the same business.
- Solution: Remove any duplicate listings from your GBP dashboard and Google Maps. If reinstatement is needed, acknowledge the mistake and provide the necessary details.
6. Multiple Businesses at One Address
- Issue: Listing several businesses at the same location without proper justification.
- Solution: Eliminate any illegitimate listings. If multiple genuine businesses operate from the same address, be prepared to show legal documentation.
Which Factors Increase Suspension Risk
Several activities can unintentionally raise the likelihood of a GBP suspension. These include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive or spammy edits by account managers.
- Keyword stuffing in the business name.
- Frequent, rapid edits to a listing.
- Switching business types, e.g., from a storefront to a service area business.
- Inconsistencies in business details across platforms.
- Suspect locations for the pin marker.
- Inconsistent or misleading signage.
- Using virtual office addresses.
- Overlapping service areas in close proximity.
- Sharing the same contact number across multiple profiles.
- Website issues, like malware.
- Operating an online-only business.
- Violations in other Google products, such as AdWords.
How to Avoid Google Business Profile Suspension
Always start with a thorough review of the Google Business Profile guidelines. Ensure that you have all the necessary information and documentation before challenging a suspension. Restoring a suspended profile is feasible, but it requires patience and readiness to provide relevant proof.
Tips to avoid Google Business Profile Suspension
The golden rule to avoid a Google Business Profile (GBP) suspension is simple: adhere strictly to the guidelines. Over the past couple of months, I’ve assisted in reinstating over 150 locations, and I’ve noticed some common yet sometimes baffling mistakes.
Essential Tips to Avoid GBP Suspension
- Keep Your Business Information Current: Ensure your business details are consistently updated in the state business directory, city license records, or state bar.
- Regularly Update Your Business Signage: Consider hiring a Street View photographer to keep your business’s visual representation fresh and accurate.
- Avoid Exceeding with Listings: Don’t fall into the trap of creating too many listings. It’s a risky strategy that’s not worth the potential repercussions.
The Suspension Appeal Process
Here’s a step-by-step guide to the GBP suspension appeal process:
- Understanding the Violation: The suspension notice email will specify the ‘Violation type,’ indicating which guideline your listing breached. Note that Google won’t specify the exact issue to fix, only the violated guideline.
- Research the Policy Violation: Click on the ‘restriction policy’ link in the email to gain a deeper understanding of the policy you’ve violated. This knowledge is crucial for correcting your Business Profile.
- Initiate the Appeal: After aligning your profile with Google’s guidelines, log into the email account associated with the suspended GBP. Use the ‘Appeal’ button in the suspension email to access the Appeals tool, where you can submit your appeal.
- Account Verification: The appeal screen helps verify the account you’re logged into. That is important, especially for users managing multiple Google accounts.
- Selecting the Suspended Profile: You’ll be directed to a page listing your suspended profiles. For those with a single business location, your profile will appear automatically. Agencies or representatives of multiple locations will see all their suspended profiles and must select the specific one to address.
- Reviewing Suspension Details: The next page provides vital information about your suspension, including the suspension date (‘Rejection Date’), general reason (‘Decision’), and current status. There are two possible statuses:
- Cannot Appeal: Some suspensions don’t permit appeals, often due to repeated violations or spam-like behavior.
- Eligible for Appeal: If your profile is eligible, click ‘Next’ to proceed with the appeal process.
Google Business Profile Reinstatement: Your Essential Evidence Checklist
When appealing for the reinstatement of your Google Business Profile, preparation is key. Here’s your checklist to ensure you have all the necessary documents:
- Official Business Registration: Demonstrates your business is legally established.
- Business License: Confirms your authorization to operate.
- Tax Certificate: A testament to your business’s financial legitimacy.
- Utility Bill: You must match the name and address on your other documents. That includes electricity, phone, gas, water, sewage, trash, recycling, TV, and internet services.
- Consistency is Crucial: Ensure that the business name and address are identical across all documents and your Google Business Profile.
Maximize Your Appeal Success
- Submit as many relevant documents as possible.
- Consider professional help if you’re unsure – it could be crucial for your online presence.
- Once you initiate the appeal process, you have a 60-minute window to upload your evidence.
Navigating the Appeal Process
- Don’t overlook the ‘Add Evidence’ link. Skipping this step is a critical mistake.
- Familiarize yourself with the appeals form beforehand – screenshots of the full form can be helpful.
Presenting Your Case
- Your form will have pre-filled details like your email, business information, and Google Business Profile ID.
- If you have multiple documents, consider zipping them into one file for upload.
- Clearly explain why your profile should be reinstated, focusing on facts and compliance efforts.
- Remember, Google is interested in facts, not frustrations. Keep your narrative focused and factual.
- You have 1,000 characters to make a compelling case. Use them wisely.
- Regularly check the Appeals tool and your email for updates on your appeal status.
- Possible outcomes include ‘Approved’ (time to celebrate) or ‘Not Approved’ (time to seek expert advice or revise your strategy).
Next Steps After Submitting Your Google Business Profile Suspension Appeal”
The potential loss of your business on Google is a serious matter with real-world implications. While Google’s system offers transparency in understanding the reason for suspension, being prepared with a strong, good-faith appeal is vital.
Best of luck with your appeal process!