The internet is full of stories of business owners suffering a drop in web traffic or phone calls, then noticing upon investigation that their online listings have been suspended by Google. These sanctions can be “soft”, meaning the listing remains present but can’t be managed, or “hard”, in which case it is removed from Google Maps and search results.
Thankfully, Search Engine Land reported this week that account holders are now being notified by email when their Google My Business (GMB) profile has been suspended. Frustratingly though, Google is still not telling them what the problem is – it simply advises them to review the guidelines and make sure their profile complies with them before applying for it to be reinstated.
The email also ends with a threat that their account may be closed if violations are repeated, leaving webmasters fearful of resubmitting their listing based on guesswork, only to be informed that they haven’t changed the problematic part, even though Google won’t tell them what it is!
So, what’s likely to be the issue? Google’s guidelines can be found here and are worth reading and understanding, but we’ve also looked into some common reasons why Google is taking action against some GMB listings.
Indirect contact information
Google doesn’t like PO box addresses. It wants the specific address for your business, as in where people would need to go if they wanted to meet you in person at your premises.
It can even be picky about phone numbers, asking business owners to avoid giving call centre details and to instead give a direct contact number for the business. Premium rate numbers are also a definite no-no.
Confusing opening hours
Are you giving accurate opening hours on your listing? Don’t be tempted to say your business is open 24 hours if it isn’t. Some business owners might think doing this can only increase their visibility, but on the contrary, Google is likely to find it odd. If you’re something like a greengrocer or book shop that traditionally only opens in the daytime, a 24-hour listing looks suspicious.
Lack of brand consistency
This is perhaps of particular relevance to franchisees. Make sure your listing is consistent with the brand’s in terms of spelling, opening hours and categories. Google does offer specific advice for chains.
Is your listing stuffed with keywords that have little or nothing to do with your product or services? Have you created more than one listing for your business, believing it will make you easier to find?
Google’s guidelines advise against multiple listings, and stress that account holders should not use categories “solely as keywords”. Review your account(s) to see whether you might be overdoing it, taking heed of Google’s advice to select as few categories as possible.
These are just a handful of reasons why a GMB account might be suspended, but the best thing to do is read the guidelines in full. Don’t just settle on a single potential problem and amend it for resubmission, as there may be more than one sticking point with your listing.
If you’re concerned about your GMB listing or would like to increase your online presence in other ways, we’re here to help. Speak to Engage Web today!