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Having a Google Business Profile (GBP) is the best way for a local business to rank high on Google – in the Local Pack, the Local Finder, and on Google Maps.
And for many of these local businesses, having a Google Business Profile is often their only local SEO strategy and the one way they promote their business online.
So when a business logs in to the Business Profile Manager or sees on Google search that their Google Business Profile is suspended, and their phone stops ringing, they go into panic mode.
In many instances, the first thought is they’ve done nothing wrong.
After all, they’ve had a Business Profile for years, so they couldn’t possibly be doing anything inappropriate.
The problem is Google has specific guidelines that all businesses must follow.
And just because a business has gotten away with breaking the rules so far doesn’t mean they’re not going to get caught eventually.
And now they just got busted!
(Either Google caught them or a competitor or someone else reported them through a Redressal Form.)
When your Business Profile gets suspended or disabled, Google doesn’t tell you why they took down your business.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to know, understand, and follow the Guidelines for Representing Your Business On Google.
Google updates these terms of service frequently – and sometimes, the updates are subtle.
It’s important to check this document at least every other month for changes that could impact your Business Profile compliance.
So, what do you do if your Business Profile gets suspended?
First, you need to read Google Business Profile guidelines and restricted content to identify the rules your profile violates.
Read the guidelines line-by-line – and it’s best to have your Business Profile’s “Info” section pulled up on the screen to check your profile for violations as you’re reading through the guidelines.
Another tip: Think about what you changed in your Business Profile right before you were suspended.
Could that change have triggered the suspension?
When a suspension happens, you have to put on your detective hat and get to work to figure out what rule(s) your profile violates, fix the violation in your Business Profile, and fill out the reinstatement request form.
Then keep your fingers crossed!
Top Reasons Google Business Profile Suspensions Happen
There are some common reasons Google Business Profiles get suspended. These are typical guideline abuses businesses make by mistake – or intentionally.
And sometimes, a Business Profile gets suspended simply by mistake.
These suspensions can sometimes be a fluke.
For instance, if a business mistakenly gets caught up in a suspension “sweep” where Google is cracking down on a particularly spammy industry.
Or you could be making some changes to your Business Profile, and Google gets suspicious of those changes, and a suspension happens.
Suspensions are a mystery you need to solve.
To help, here are some of the most common reasons for a suspension.
Spammy Industries/High-Risk Categories
Certain categories are considered spammy or high risk.
These categories are known for spammy profiles and fraudulent or fake Business Profiles.
Google looks at these industries with extra scrutiny and often suspends profiles – especially if they violate even the smallest guideline.
Some of these business categories include:
- Garage doors.
- Real estate.
- Pest control.
- Tree pruning.
- Tree planting.
- Rehab centers.
- And others.
If you are in a high-risk business category, your Business Profile already has a red mark, so be sure to play by the rules and follow the guidelines.
Keyword Stuffed Business Names
There’s nothing more annoying than seeing a company stuffing their business name with keywords. Keyword stuffing your business name looks particularly spammy.
Google is finally starting to realize this.
In fact, with the recent Vicinity algorithm update, research shows that companies with keywords in their GBP business names have dropped in rankings.
(That’s great news, Google!)
So stop keyword stuffing your Google Business Profile business name – or making up business names entirely!
Your profile will likely get suspended.
According to Google’s guidelines:
“To help customers find your business online, accurately represent your business name. Your name should reflect your business’s real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.
Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted and could result in the suspension of your Business Profile.”
Using A P.O. Box Or UPS Store Address
Google Business Profile is for local businesses that either see customers at their places of business or for local companies that go out to the customer’s location.
Let’s be honest: You can’t run a business from a post office or UPS Store.
If you have a business with an address at a remote location like a P.O. box or UPS box, you’re not eligible for a Google Business Profile.
And if you do, by chance, get a GBP, your profile will eventually get suspended.
According to Google’s rules:
“P.O. boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.”
Business Is Using A Virtual Office Or Co-Working Space Address
Like P.O. box, UPS box, and “remote location” addresses, virtual office and co-working space addresses can be problematic.
First, virtual offices are typically just used as a mailing address.
So virtual offices or companies that give you a mailing address are a no-go.
For the most part, Google doesn’t consider a co-working space address a true business location unless:
- You rent a dedicated space (preferably a dedicated office).
- Have your company’s signage outside that dedicated office space so customers can find your location (and we’re not talking a Post-It® Note – it has to be permanent signage).
- Your staff (not the co-working building’s staff) is there during business hours.
So, in most cases, co-working addresses are not allowed to have a Google Business Profile.
Let’s look at a quick example.
This Virtual Office company rents out private offices as well as virtual offices and co-working spaces.
Their suite number is #2201.
If you search that address and suite number online, you’ll find multiple businesses with that same address and suite number.
What does that tell you?
All of those businesses share that space (i.e., co-working together).
None of them are eligible for a Google Business Profile, and they are all running the risk of getting their GBPs suspended.
And guess which company knows where the big virtual office companies are?
You got it! Google, which owns Google Maps.
It’s easy for them to find businesses at Regus, WeWork, and other co-working and virtual office locations.
So, if you think you’re safe using a virtual office or co-working space address in your Google Business Profile, you’re not.
A suspension will likely occur.
According to Google’s Guidelines:
“If your business rents a physical mailing address but doesn’t operate out of that location, also known as a virtual office, that location is not eligible for a Business Profile.
Businesses can’t list an office at a co-working space unless that office maintains clear signage, receives customers at the location during business hours, and is staffed during business hours by your business staff.”
Service Area Business (SAB) Displays Their Physical Address In Business Profile
If you run a Service Area Business (SAB), you likely operate your business from your home or other location where customers cannot visit.
You go to your customers and service them at their locations.
Since no one needs to drive or get directions to your place of business Google does not want your business’s address to appear on Google Maps.
Therefore, Google does not allow Service Area Businesses to display or show their physical address in their Google Business Profiles.
Suppose you are a Service Area Business and do not have a storefront with permanent signage and employees staffed there during business hours (and many other rules). In that case, you cannot have your business address in your Google Business Profile.
If you’re an agency and are helping a client with a suspension (or are trying to bust one of your client’s competitors), a handy tool is Melissa.com.
You can enter an address and the tool will tell you if the address is residential or commercial.
Service Area Businesses must follow several guidelines, so dig into those guidelines and ensure you follow all of them.
Here’s the guideline regarding not displaying your address in your Google Business Profile:
“If you’re a service-area business, you should hide your business address from customers.
For example, if you’re a plumber and run your business from your residential address, clear the address from your Business Profile.”
Google Business Profiles are for local businesses that serve local customers.
Do you run an ecommerce or online-only business where you don’t meet with local customers?
Then you don’t qualify for a GBP.
According to the guidelines:
“Brands, organizations, artists and other online-only businesses aren’t eligible for Business Profiles.”
This situation might happen if you have a home-based business or Service Area Business trying to set up more than one business at a home address.
For instance, a business owner might have a lawn care company and a handyman service. Instead of creating one company and one business profile and selecting different categories, they may try to set up multiple Google Business Profiles.
In most cases, this violates Google’s guidelines and is a trigger for a suspension.
If you have businesses with similar or related services, it’s better to create a legal business name or entity that covers them all. Then use GBP categories, add services to your Business Profile, and let your website tell customers what your company does.
From the guidelines:
“Service-area businesses, or businesses that serve customers at their locations, should have one profile for the central office or location with a designated service area.”
Suspensions Are A Reality Check
Keep in mind that this list is not a complete list of Google Business Profile issues that can cause suspensions.
There are several other common reasons your profile may get suspended.
But the bottom line is this: Follow the guidelines and you may not have to worry about any of this.
And if you do find your profile taken down, you can read this article on what to do if your Google Business Profile gets suspended.
Featured Image: RoseRodionova/Shutterstock
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