Why has my ‘Google My Business’ listing been suspended?

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There are numerous reasons why your local listing might have been suspended from Google My Business or Google Maps. Generally speaking it means you have broken one of Google’s long list of offences. (Please note that Google employees will seldom tell you why your account got suspended as they don’t want to help rule-breakers get smarter at beating the system.)

In the list that follows I will run you through the two different types of suspensions and the most common reasons for suspension.

Different types of suspensions

When you log into ‘Google My Business’ and see the suspended label you will no longer be able to manage your listing. However if your listing still shows up in Google and Google Maps then this indicates you have been given a soft suspension. A soft suspension is the lesser of the two evils and you can fix it relatively easily by creating a new Google account, re-verifying your listing and reviewing Google’s list of offences thoroughly to prevent future violations.

The second type of suspension is known as a hard suspension and is reserved for more serious infringements. A hard suspension will result in the complete removal of your entire Google listing including photos and reviews. The only way to rectify a hard suspension is to appeal to Google to reinstate your listing using this troubleshooter wizard. You will need to correct any of the following flaws listed below and even then there is no guarantee that Google will reinstate your listing.

Most common reasons for suspension

#1. Website field contains forwarding URL

Google’s guidelines contain the following instructions: “Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ‘refer’ users to landing pages”. Some businesses have found themselves on the receiving end of a soft suspension for using vanity URLs that forward users to a different domain. Always use your main website address to avoid this problem.

#2. No brick and mortar storefront for online businesses

Product-based businesses must have a physical storefront to be eligible for local pages and thereby ranking in the 3-pack or on Google Maps. Online businesses need to create a Google + brand page instead.

#3. Multiple listings per business

Each business is only allowed one page per location. So if you have a business that is based in Melbourne and Darwin you can create one verified listing for each city. And don’t think that using multiple accounts will help you to create extra pages. Google has been known to suspend all listings of those that try to break this rule.

#4. Illegal business, sexually explicit content or regulated products

It should go without saying that Google doesn’t want to help promote illegal businesses or sexually explicit content. However some legal businesses that sell regulated products e.g. guns, tobacco etc have also been caught out, despite Google Plus guidelines saying regulated goods are allowed if they set a geographic and age restriction. If you have been affected by this, try amending your site to make the geographic and age restrictions more obvious then appeal to Google to reinstate your page.

#5. Use of virtual office or mailbox

Temporary or “virtual” offices in different cities are not sufficient grounds for creating a new Google local area listing, and will be prone to suspension. Only permanent offices count.

#6. Unnecessary keywords in business name field

Your business name field should feature only the name of your business. Explanatory keywords designed to improve SEO should be reserved for the content and metadata of your website not the business name field.

#7. Service area businesses that haven’t hidden address

If you operate a mobile service-area business for example teaching violin or an in-home haircutting service and don’t have an official business address for customers to show up at, you are required to hide your address on your listing. So anyone who works from home (but doesn’t meet clients at their home) or who performs their work in other people’s homes must ensure they have hidden their address.

#8. You don’t own the building you meet at for classes/workshops

Similar to point seven above, if you teach classes at a friend’s shop or public event space you do not have the right to display that address on your local listing even if it is the only physical place that your business takes place. In the eyes of Google, because you are not the owner of the building and you do not have an official lease for it, you do not have the authority to represent your business using this address.

#9. Aggressive spam filtering in your industry

The last main reason for suspension is not necessarily your fault. This applies to businesses who may have followed all the rules but who work in an industry that is dominated by spam and charlatans. As a result of the reputation of the industry you work in, you may find yourself subject to stricter spam filters which unfairly red flag your business.

If this is the case I suggest you call Google directly and speak with a Google My Business representative.

Want more information on Google My Business?

If this topic has piqued your interest you can find more information on Google’s help section. Or get leading in Google with KBB Digital’s Local SEO services.

Luke Chaffey is a Digital Marketing Specialist with KBB Digital. For advice on Digital Marketing, including SEO services and Digital Strategy, visit www.kbbdigital.com.au

Luke Chaffey
Luke Chaffey is a senior member of the KBB Digital team, and heads up the search marketing division. With a keen eye on innovation and developing digital trends, Luke regularly attends the Google Partners Masterclass, and is also a prolific writer for websites such as Yahoo, The Australian Government (Digital Business sector), Kochie’s Business Builders, Smarter.Digital, KBB Digital.