In May this year, Google announced that it would begin deleting inactive Gmail accounts (of 2+ years) in December 2023.
Well, the time is upon us, and I imagine there’s a significant number of people that haven’t acted. Many people may even be wondering “what’s the big deal?”—but there are a lot of things to consider that may be attached to your Gmail account beyond emails.
And for brands, it could mean bad news for your Google Reviews.
What will I lose if my Gmail is deleted?
Think about the suite of Google apps your account is connected to, as well as the various website and account logins it’s associated with. There’s a lot you won’t be able to access if your account is removed, such as:
- Account logins
- Back-up email recovery
- Google Drive
- Google Business Profile Manager
- Google Photos
- Google Play Store
So, consider this a good time to do a bit of account housekeeping! Check all of your logins and either update the email address if you’re not using Gmail, or log in to your Google account to ensure it’s active.
What does this mean for my business reviews?
Users who leave business reviews on Google must have an active account, so it could be the case that brands will see a drop in the total number of reviews their profile has if they are removed.
However, it hasn’t been confirmed if Google will remove the reviews or simply highlight the review poster as inactive/anonymous. According to Reputation America, reviews from deleted accounts do remain visible on business profiles but are no longer linked to personal information.
We asked Ben Fisher, Co-founder of Steady Demand and Google Business Profile Diamond Product Expert, about his experience with deleted Google accounts:
“In short, if the account is deleted and the GBP is live, the GBP will probably keep the reviews. The user name could change to ‘A Google User’, I have seen that before.”
– Ben Fisher, Steady Demand
It makes sense, given the importance of various review factors for building trust with businesses—and Google will want to maintain this integrity. As we know from the Local Consumer Review Survey, consumers are interested in more than just the top-level star rating for a business, looking at the experiences customers are describing.
What does this mean for Google Business Profiles?
To claim and manage your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing, you’ll need a Google account. If you’ve had various people associated with your GBP over the years, it’s a good idea to review the owners associated with the Profile and ensure the users with account access are up to date.
You can do this by heading to your GBP dashboard, clicking the three dots next to the profile strength indicator, and selecting ‘Business Profile settings’.
Although it has not been confirmed what would happen to a GBP if its sole user was deleted, we can assume the profile would revert to an unclaimed business listing.
A GBP will still remain visible if it is not managed, so it doesn’t seem likely that Google would remove it, but you may need to go through the claiming and verification process again.
Ben’s thoughts pretty much echo this:
“I would think that if that account is the only account associated with a GBP, then the chances of a soft suspension are highly likely.”
– Ben Fisher, Steady Demand
A soft suspension on a Google Business Profile generally means that the listing becomes unverified and you lose control of it. So, if this is the case, you’ll need to act fast to re-verify your GBP and ensure you’re in control of your business information.
What’s exempt and how do I know if my Google account is inactive?
Well, if you’re an Android or Google device user, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry. If your system is logged into Google and connected to apps like Calendar, Chrome, Photos and Play Store, your use of any of these will count as activity. Likewise, if your YouTube account has videos posted to it, this is also safe.
According to Forbes, exemptions also include Google accounts that are connected to educational establishments and those that are business accounts.
What should I do?
If your personal Google account has been inactive for two years or more, but you have personal files, photos, and memories stored there that you don’t want to lose, you’ll want to consider logging in before it’s too late.
It’s not clear whether the mass deletion has commenced, but Google initiatives tend to take several weeks to fully roll out.
For GBP owners and managers, the chances of your GBP being associated with an inactive Google account seem quite unlikely, but take the time to review who has access to the account and update the details if necessary.
And as for reviews, there isn’t much you can do to prevent these changes. For now, we’ll just have to wait for the effects of the great Google account purge.
Remember, it’s always good to keep your eyes on forums like X (formerly Twitter), the Local Pack, and Local Search Forum to see if any big changes or updates have been spotted, and how people are responding to them.