Why Google Suspends Local Listings

mapThe Internet is full of mystery. Without exception, Google is at the top of that list. What is not a secret is that Google routinely suspends listings on their platforms like Google Plus, Google Maps, etc. The only problem is that they never tell you why.

Google Local listings are a part of any complete SEO plan for a business with a storefront. There are even Google algorithms, e.g. Pigeon, that are designed for just handling location queues for a website.

For the most part, Google and their representatives are silent on why certain listings were suspended at all. Luckily, they have provided guidance on the matter, giving some clarity to a particularly murky situation.

First, rest assured that some suspensions are not a death sentence to the listing. You should be familiar with a few reasons why Google might suspend a listing, and what a particular suspension means to your listing.

A suspension from Google is sort of like a suspension you might have gotten in school. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of school suspensions. There is an in-school suspension. That is where you messed up, but you do not have to take an absence. This is like the first type of Google suspension, often referred to as a ‘soft suspension’.

For a soft suspension, you will log into your account and see that your listing has been suspended. You cannot do anything during the suspension but sit there, yet the listing is still visible to the public. Your listing, like the kid with the in-school suspension, can just sit there and stare at a wall. To get back into school (Google’s good graces), you will need to behave and re-verify yourself with the school that you intend to behave.

prison-barsSimilarly, all you need to do after this suspension is to create a new account, become verified once more, and behave in the future.

The second type is a bit more interesting. The second type is akin to the out-of-school suspension. You get the suspension, yet you are completely blocked from coming into school. Plus, there is that fear of it going on the elusive ‘permanent record’. In Google terms, they will wipe your listing off the face of their platform. This type is often called a ‘hard suspension’.

Then, you have to start completely new, losing any chance of regaining the legitimacy of your previous listing.

Having said all that, there are several reasons why Google might suspend your account.

Forwarding URLs

This is for all those sites that people click on which redirects to another site. If your URL does this, it sends a red flag to Google that your site may be possible spam.

According to Google’s Guidelines for Businesses, “Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ‘refer’ users to landing pages.” More likely than not, your page will only receive a minimal or soft suspension for this.

keyword-stuffingExtra Keywords in the URL

If you look to the guidelines, you will find the following rule:

“Adding unnecessary information to your name (e.g., “Google Inc. – Mountain View Corporate Headquarters” instead of “Google”) by including marketing taglines, store codes, special characters, hours or closed/open status, phone numbers, website URLs, service/product information, location/address or directions, or containment information (e.g., “Chase ATM in Duane Reade”) is not permitted.”

These type of infractions are mostly minor infractions that do not get you the worst of suspensions.

You listed the URL of your service-area business

If you run a business from your house or mobile (like a food truck) then your business does not technically have a permanent address. According to Google’s guidelines, your business must be listed as a “service-area business”. With service-area businesses, your address must be hidden from view as otherwise it would pop up on Google Maps. Such place is not eligible to be featured on Google Maps, most likely due to its misleading nature.

This is a more serious offense to Google. Often it comes with a hard suspension. To avoid this, verify your service-area business with Google My Business instead of using Google Maps which do not allow these verifications.

multiple-listings-on-google-mapsMultiple verified listings for the same business

If you have multiple verified listings for the same business, make sure to get rid of any extraneous listings. Only the verified one can stay. If you have a duplicate listings, one will receive a soft suspension and the other will get a hard more permanent suspension.

Forbidden Business

This goes without saying but a business for illegal operations cannot be listed on Maps. Likewise, any business of certain regulated goods can be on Google Maps but it will have to be unverified. Regulated goods such as guns and tobacco can be on Google Plus only if the business sets both age and geographic location restrictions. A business is automatically listed on Google Plus once the business has been verified. An unverified business is not listed automatically.

Listing created at a virtual mailbox

“If your business rents a temporary, “virtual” office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours.”

For businesses that own meeting space, etc., do not create a separate listing unless you meet the standards outlined above.

storefrontBusiness Listing without an actual storefront

As we said above, businesses without a physical storefront should not put an address for Maps. For online businesses or businesses without storefronts, they should create a Google Plus page instead of one for Maps.

Doing so results in a hard suspension.

You run business/class in building used for other things

If you hold a class once a week or use space in a building that you do not own, do not create your own listing on Maps. Meeting spaces or spaces for one day rentals would not be eligible. Google’s guidelines state, “According to the guidelines, “Ineligible businesses include: an ongoing service, class, or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent.”

Tighter Spam Filtering

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do. If your business is in an industry that is crowded with spam, then Google’s spam filters will be tighter. You could do nothing wrong, but still receive a suspension. These suspensions result in a hard suspension.

If this happens, take your case to the Google My Business Forum where it can be brought to Google’s attention.

This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other reasons why Google suspends your listing. Keep to the guidelines provided by Google, however, and you should be in good shape.

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