What to Do If Your Google My Business Listing Is Suspended
Want to know how to get a suspended Google My Business listing reinstated? Here’s everything you need to know to get your all-important listing back, by GMB Product Expert Ben Fisher.
Joe awoke one morning to find that the phones were not ringing for his business. He then had some people calling in from billboard advertisements, but they were calling to ask for directions.
After a few moments of confusion, Joe checked to see if anything had happened to his business listing on Google.
Sure enough, this business was no longer on Google Maps. Gone! All those hard-earned reviews… poof! It was as if the business no longer existed.
The kicker? This was a real business. There was clear signage visible from Street View, there was a professional Street View created by a trusted photographer. The warehouse was huge.
You could even find them as a legal business entity with the secretary of state. They had another listing for a separate business entity that also had all the legit checkboxes, like a separate phone number, entrance, and LLC.
Joe immediately used Google’s reinstatement form. Bad idea.
On July 21st they heard back from Google…
Thank you for contacting Google My Business team.
We’ve looked at your account and it looks like your business is not eligible to display on Google Maps per our quality guidelines. Check out our guidelines for representing your business on Google to see what types of businesses are eligible to be on Google Maps.
If you have any further questions please consult the Google My Business Help Center.
So Joe sends an email back, with photos of the building, entrance, signage, billboards and more facts.
Here’s what Joe said…
“We paid Google to have a photographer come in for the 360 tour and pictures a couple years ago.
I’m attaching pictures of our building, showroom, service truck, and even a billboard we have down the street advertising our business.
PLEASE HELP GET US BACK ON GOOGLE MAPS AND GET OUR REVIEWS BACK ONLINE!”
Joe ended up calling me at Steady Demand, and after looking at all the evidence and seeing that they had one listing still live, I asked: “Who else is managing the listing?”
In particular, I asked him which manager was not on the live listing but was on the suspended listing. At first, he said, “Oh no-one, I think. Just my GM.” I asked him to humor me and take a look.
Lo and behold, there was the answer: a manager from, without being too cryptic, a reputation management company that, shall we say, “flies and has a facial feature”.
I said, “Okay, let’s remove that user. Now we can proceed with a reinstatement.”
Seven days later the listing was reinstated on Google Maps.
Because the user from the reputation management company was performing map edits on a regular basis, this behaviour was flagged as suspicious by Google and this led to that user’s account being suspended (if you’re an agency managing client GMB profiles, I’d recommend avoiding making too many map edits on a daily basis).
That’s how easy to get your listing suspended on Google My Business without even knowing why, and that’s why I’ve put together the little guide below, which I hope answers all your questions about why your GMB listing has been suspended.
What Is a Google My Business Suspension?
In short, a Google My Business (GMB) suspension is what happens when your free listing on Google and Google Maps is no longer visible or under your account control, and its validity has come under question from Google.
A quick ‘word to the wise’: Whatever you do, if Google suggests creating a new listing, do not do it. You could lose all of your reviews and any ranking power you had will be gone. As long as the listing and account are in within guidelines, then you will get reinstated, no matter what support says.
How to Tell How Serious Your GMB Suspension Is
There are two kinds of Google My Business suspension. To find out which you’ve got, search for your business on Google Maps. If it’s not there, you’ve got a hard suspension. If it’s still there but you can’t access it, it’s a soft suspension.
This is very bad. In this case, the listing has been removed from Google and from Google Maps, and is in a state where it can lose its reviews entirely.
More often than not, this has to do with a user on the account. Soft suspensions usually mean that the listing is “disabled”. It’s still visible in search but you no longer have the means to make changes to manage it. The listing is in an unverified status at this time and very vulnerable to user edits for removal.
What Can Trigger a GMB Suspension?
Sometimes Google does what is called a “sweep”, like what we saw back in June of 2019 when suspensions increased significantly.
This was an algorithmic sweep of sensitive business categories that were highly susceptible to fake GMB listings, like locksmiths and plumbers. I have even seen a listing get suspended after doing a move reinstatement, right after doing a verification. Frustrating, yes, but also computer-controlled!
The algorithmic sweep is the most common suspension cause and also the hardest to troubleshoot. It could result from anything from having your hours set to 24 hours to not setting your address properly.
Sometimes an account manager or owner has had their own account suspended. Maybe it’s the representative of an SEO company that has a user account and submits a ton of spammy map edits, or maybe it’s a user that does other things that violate other guidelines.
When an account gets a suspension they will usually have all listings in the account receive a suspension. I need to note here that I very often see accounts that have multiple bad listings (10+ virtual offices or spammy listings) get suspended wholesale.
If you’re managing multiple GMB accounts and most are suspended but one or more aren’t, then your account is not at fault. It will instead be a manager on a listing that is on a suspended account. If this happens to you, you either need to do what I call an “owner swap” (basically removing the current owners and replacing them with a new Google account, preferably connected to Gsuite) or you need to remove all managers before attempting a reinstatement.
Manual suspensions happen when a Google employee has personally decided that you should not be on Google Maps. This is usually after being reported via the spam redressal form.
The way I look at this is very simple: for the most part, you are guilty until proven innocent. If there is some slight doubt on the part of the Google employee, you will get a soft suspension: you’ll still be on Google Maps but will have to go through the reinstatement process.
Note: During this time, your listing is vulnerable to removal by any user. If there are enough signals suggesting your business should be removed (which I’ll go over shortly), you will get a hard suspension and your business will be removed from Google Maps. Spammy business names and having an address at a virtual office are common reasons for a hard suspension.