Top Reasons Your Local Search Listings Can Get Suspended By Google
Google My Business is an excellent way to make your local business visible to a wide array of customers and what’s more important – it’s free.
However, this particular service is accompanied by quite an extensive list of guidelines that many people only skim, if they bother to open it at all. This is why some business owners involuntarily break some of the rules, leading to a partial or complete suspension of their listings.
In the case of partial suspension, business owners are not able to manage their current listings anymore, but the listings are still displayed on Google, Google Maps and Map Maker, while rankings and photos remain intact.
This means that rules from the guidelines were broken in some way and that Google marked your listing unverified, not allowing you to make changes to it. To rectify this, you’ll have to create a new account, verify the listings once more, and pay close attention to rules this time.
When it comes to complete suspension, the situation is more serious. This type of suspension means not only that you won’t be able to manage your listings, but that they are completely removed from Google, Google Maps and Map Maker, together with rankings and photos.
You may ask Google to reinstate your listings since this is the only possible way to solve this, but you shouldn’t rely too much on this. At this point, Google deems your listings ineligible to be seen on Google Maps.
In order to avoid either suspension happening to you, here is a list of top reasons why search listings can be suspended.
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Type of Business
There are several ways in which the type of your business can prove to be ineligible according to the guidelines:
- If you own a service-area business and you list your address – By definition, service-area business is usually performed at clients’ addresses, and therefore the listing should not include your address unless you customers actually show up at it. Therefore do not use your home address as your business address.
- If you own business which is sensitive in nature – Google may see businesses that impose the age restriction on selling their goods and as sensitive and may not verify them. These include businesses that sell fireworks, firearms, alcohol, tobacco, blades, lottery tickets, etc.
- If you own an online business without premises – Since, Google My Business is intended for those who serve clients in person, listings of online enterprises that conduct their business solely via the Internet will be suspended. According to the guidelines, the way to go in this case is to create a Google brand page.
- If you perform your business activities in a building that is not in your possession – These activities include courses, lectures, meetings, etc. that you organize in offices, classrooms, halls and similar premises you don’t own. Although they may be held on regular basis, according to Google guidelines they do not constitute an eligible enterprise.
When entering the location of your business, you may break some of the rules just because you want to use Google My Business in a way you deem more efficient. In any of the following cases related to the business location you risk suspension of your listing:
- If you register more than one listing for the same business location – This is clearly stated in the guidelines, and you should avoid creating more than one listing for one location. This is not to say that certain business, like store chains, can’t have multiple listings for multiple locations. It simply means that it is enough to register one business listing for one specific location.
- If you register more than one business at the same location – As it was stated in the previous situation, one location is reserved for one business only. In case you own several businesses that are managed from the same office, the best course to take is to create listing for the most prominent one. If you decide to register more than one listing, it may happen that one of them will be partially suspended, while the rest of them will be permanently suspended.
- If you register a virtual office or a mailbox as a business location – This is usually done by business owners who want to expand their activities outside the area of their headquarters without buying and leasing new offices. As it was the case with online businesses, you cannot register an address as a business location if you don’t actually receive clients there.
Although it is important to manage SEO to your advantage, you must always bear in mind that Google penalizes every action that may seem to mislead customers. In the case of listings, these are considered inappropriate:
- If you provide forwarding or vanity URL – The field for website address of your business should contain precisely that. If the web address you provided lead clients to an address other than that listed, you are in violation of the guidelines and as a result, your listing will be suspended.
- If you use additional keywords with the name of your business – You should limit yourself just to name of your business when filling in the field for business name. Any other words would lead to suspension. Therefore, if you run a bookstore that is called “Scriptum,” this is the only thing that should be in that field. Don’t add things such as “antique books, rare first editions.” Even though they describe your business activities, they are not part of the name.
Situations Beyond Your Control
So far, we’ve covered situations where business owners could have prevented suspension of their listings simply by following the rules. However, there are certain instances which can result in suspension that can’t necessarily be attributed to business owner’s mistakes:
- If you own a business that is associated with spam – Certain types of business can be associated with spam due to previous misuses. For these, spam filters are usually stricter and block even those businesses that are not spamming but fall into the same category. Some of the businesses in question include services for installation and repair of air-conditioning, appliance repair, services for cleaning carpets, centers for drug rehabilitation, duct cleaning, electricians, landscapers, locksmiths, lawyers, pest control, moving companies, painters, and plumbers.
- If your listing is managed on the same account as other listings – It is not rare that business owners delegate marketing activities to specialized agencies. As a result, an agency may be in charge of managing your listing. If it is grouped with other listings managed by the same agency on the same account, it may be suspended even if you rigorously follow the guidelines. Namely, if one of the listings from an account gets suspended, the other listings from that same account get suspended by default.
In both of these cases, the best course of action is to write to Google, explain the situation and ask them to reinstate your listing. When it comes to using agencies for managing your marketing activities, it is best to ask them, at the very beginning, to manage your business marketing from a separate account that you can provide to them. In this case, you will avoid your listing becoming collateral damage.
Google’s policy not to disclose reasons for the suspension of local search listings may create the notion that these reasons have a complex and intricate background. However, as you may see, most of them simply come down to the violation of rules in some form or the other. Therefore, the best possible advice is to familiarize yourselves with the guidelines Google provided, even though it may seem a waste of time. In any case, it would be a much bigger waste of time if your listing gets suspended after hours of work, carefully chosen pictures, and ratings from your satisfied clients.
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