Many local businesses rely on their Google My Business (GMB) listing as a major online marketing tool.
In fact, for a large group of small businesses, a GMB profile is their only form of internet marketing.
But for small local businesses that operate on a tiny marketing budget (or even no budget at all), a free GMB profile is often the only online marketing strategy they have.
When they run into issues with Google My Business, those issues can literally put them out of business.
One of the biggest stressors to a small business owner in this situation is when their Google My Business listing gets suspended.
With a Google My Business suspension, your GMB listing is no longer visible on Google Search or Maps, or you have lost control of your listing (your business listing is essentially “unverified,” and you can’t manage it or make any changes to your profile).
Part of the anxiety of a GMB suspension is that Google doesn’t tell merchants why their profile was suspended.
A business owner or newbie marketer uneducated on the rules and nuances of GMB is left guessing as to what they may have done wrong to cause the suspension.
(And often, in their mind, they’ve done nothing wrong.)
Let’s go over some of the most common reasons why Google My Business listings get suspended so that if you find yourself in this position, you can better troubleshoot the issue.
Common Reasons Why Your Google My Business Listing Got Suspended
A Google My Business suspension can be devastating.
If you aren’t paying attention to your profile, you may not even notice that your listing has been suspended until phone calls slow down or your foot traffic is less than normal.
If you check your email (like you should), you will receive an email notification from Google informing you that your GMB profile has been suspended. And when you log in to your Google My Business dashboard, you will also see a scary “Suspended” notification.
Here’s what to do if your GMB listing is suspended.
(Remember though, it’s always better to be proactive and know the common reasons why most business listings get suspended so that you don’t make the mistakes that frequently cause a suspension in the first place.)
Address-Related Google My Business Suspensions
Address-related suspensions are among the most common types of GMB suspensions.
Here are a few reasons this could happen:
- Having an address that is near a UPS store.
- Using a PO Box, UPS box, or virtual office/shared workspace address.
- Multiple GMB listings for the same business/location address.
- The listing is for a business that runs a service or class that operates in a building/business you don’t own (i.e.: a yoga class being taught at a local high school in the evenings or you give pedicures at a salon you don’t own).
- A “move suspension” from moving from a virtual office/shared office to a new location.
- A Service Area Business (SAB) displays its residential address on the GMB listing.
Let’s look at an example of a Service Area Business that got suspended and couldn’t figure out why.
After looking up the business’s name online, I was able to find its address. I noticed that their category was “appliance repair service.”
Typically, an appliance repair company is a SAB and doesn’t have a physical storefront that customers come to (unless they are larger companies like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Lowe’s).
I went to Google Maps and entered the address and used the satellite view to look around the neighborhood. It was clearly a residential address:
If you can’t get a good look at the location on Google Maps, another great resource to find out if an address is a residential or business address is the Melissa.com Address Check tool.
Simply enter the address and it will tell you if the address is business or residential.
With this little bit of investigation, I was able to tell that this business likely got suspended because they were violating the rule that states that Service Area Businesses cannot display their physical address on GMB if they don’t have a storefront or run the business out of their home.
Another address suspension issue is when businesses rent out virtual offices or co-working spaces (Regus or WeWork shared spaces, for example).
Virtual office addresses cannot be used unless the company has leased a dedicated/executive office for their exclusive use. In that case, they must also have:
- Permanent signage outside their office door, inside the office/lobby area.
- Their own suite number.
- Their business listed on the office building directory with a unique suite number.
- Their employees – not the shared workspace’s employees – in their office during business hours, etc.
If you’re trying to figure out why one of your clients got suspended, do some research.
In this instance, I simply looked up the address and found that all of the businesses at this location had the exact same suite number.
This means that every business at this location is violating GMB’s terms of service.
When I contacted this law firm at the Regus address, the person who answered the phone indicated that she was not physically located at the office at the address.
It’s just a matter of time before someone reports all of these businesses at this address through a Redressal Form or before Google – who knows where all of the co-working locations are at – does a mass suspension of these businesses.
If you have a virtual office address and get suspended, you have a few options.
One option is to find a new dedicated office location. That would be the safest and best thing to do.
You could also rent out a dedicated office at the Virtual Office location if one is available and follow the guidelines listed above – permanent signage, your employees staffed during business hours, etc.
When you file your suspension reinstatement request, you must provide proof of your dedicated office rental by submitting a copy of your dedicated office lease agreement and photos and videos showing:
- You walking into the building.
- The office directory with your business name and suite number listed.
- Your dedicated office door showing signage.
- The business signage inside the office lobby, etc.
If you are a Service Area Business with a virtual office/co-working space that gets suspended, you cannot keep the virtual office address and simply delete that address from your GMB listing and set up service areas.
You would either need to rent a dedicated office as described above or you would need to change your address to your home address and then delete that address from your GMB listing and set your listing up as a SAB before you submit the reinstatement request.
Note that whatever decision you make, you need to ensure that all of your business documents – like your Secretary of State, Trademark and Patent info, resell license, trade licenses, business insurance, utility bills with your business name on them, etc. match your new address.
Submit that proof when you fill out the reinstatement request.
Google My Business Listing Suspended for Making Too Many Edits at Once
Let’s face it, sometimes working on your GMB profile can be a hassle.
It may seem easier to say, “I’m going to sit here for 30 minutes and just make all of these updates and get it done.”
Well, sometimes making a bunch of changes to your GMB listing in one sitting can trigger a suspension.
No one is exactly sure why this happens, but it could be that Google sees all these updates as suspicious.
It’s best if you make one or two changes to your listing, then walk away and do something else. Come back about 30 minutes later and then make another change.
Don’t make too many changes at one time. It isn’t worth risking a suspension.
Flukes, Bugs, Algos, and Google Sweeps… Oh My!
Bugs happen, and sometimes GMB listings are suspended for no reason.
Google may also be making small changes inside the GMB dashboard that can trigger suspensions.
Google could be doing a sweep trying to get rid of spammy listings and because you’re in that industry, too, your legitimate listing could get caught up in the mass suspensions.
If that happens, carefully read over the Google My Business guidelines to ensure you’re in compliance.
Then, fill out the reinstatement request. It typically takes Google about 72 hours to respond.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but Google My Business was set up to help local businesses.
Online-only businesses do not qualify for Google My Business listings.
If you are an online-only site and do not work directly with local customers where you are located, have an ecommerce website or offer online-only services, you are not eligible to have a GMB listing.
That’s why your GMB profile was (rightfully) suspended.
Violating GMB Guidelines/Terms of Service (TOS)
The Google My Business guidelines are for everyone.
It’s a good idea to check these guidelines at least once a month to ensure that nothing has been changed in the policies and to ensure that you understand all outlined rules.
GMB’s guidelines can be a bit tricky, vague, and subject to interpretation, which can make things confusing for even the most experienced GMB user.
Other Common Reasons for GMB Suspensions
We covered some of the commonly seen reasons for GMB listing suspensions, but there are many more including:
- Someone reported your GMB listing using the redressal form for violating a GMB Term of Service (TOS).
- GMB “manager” issues (i.e., someone who has “manager” rights to your GMB listing did something wrong/violated a GMB TOS and all the listings they manage got suspended).
- Keyword stuffing your business name or failing to use your legal or legitimate business name.
- The website URL you list is a redirect or links to a social media page.
- Google User Report (i.e., anyone who reports a listing on Google Maps as ‘Spam’ or ‘Doesn’t Exist’ can get that listing suspended if their edit gets approved).
- You have been repeatedly busted for keyword-stuffing your business name. (Note: Don’t do it!)
- Reinstatement/Verification Loop. This is when you get a successful reinstatement and the listing is suspended either immediately or it happens right after you enter in a verification code right after a reinstatement. (This usually happens if your business is located near a virtual office or a UPS store.)
- “Spammy” edits via Google Maps can trigger account suspensions. If you have enough of your edits denied and you get automatically flagged as a spammer, it can cause you to get an account suspension and the listings you manage will get suspended, as well. If you get an account suspension, you will probably lose all of your pictures and any responses you made to reviews you received.
So what do you do if you get suspended?
This resource from the Google My Business Help Center on how to fix suspended Google My Business listings may help.
If your listing gets reinstated upon your request, it can take up to 72 hours for your Knowledge Panel to show up in search results.
Keep in mind that you could see a drop in rankings for a while.
What to Do Next?
Your GMB profile is one of your most valuable assets.
It’s better to be proactive and understand the common reasons why GMB profiles get suspended so you can avoid getting suspended in the first place.
Here is some more helpful information on what to do if your GMB listing does get suspended.
And if you’re still stuck, you can always come to the Google My Business Help Forum and one of the volunteers can answer your question about your suspension (or any other GMB question you might have).
- Local SEO & Google My Business Optimization with Amanda Jordan [Podcast]
- How to Use Google My Business to Boost Your Content & SEO
- Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
All screenshots taken by author, January 2021