Google My Business Troubleshooting: Recovering a Suspended Listing
From address and phone number to reviews and gift card purchases, your GMB listing provides the most accurate information about your business, and it can even boost local SEO and drive sales.
In fact, the average business is found in 157 direct searches and 852 discovery searches each month (BrightLocal).
With the potential for so many eyes on your business, a suspended GMB profile can cause you to miss out on new customers and valuable brand exposure. A GMB suspension is when your listing is no longer visible on Google and Google Maps, or when you are unable to manage your own listing. This can be quite a setback for businesses, and one that you’ll want to remedy right away.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get your GMB listing reinstated in a few weeks’ time.
How Can I Tell if My GMB Listing Was Suspended?
Generally, this action happens because Google wants users to have access to high-quality, factually accurate search results. Unfortunately, Google does not tell you the exact reason why your listing was suspended. However, you’ll know it’s been suspended if you see this notification in your GMB dashboard.
You may also notice a sudden decrease in phone calls, emails, or walk-up visitors due to people being unable to find your listing online. In many cases, the suspension has to do with spammy tactics or breaking GMB guidelines, so we recommend checking out our setup and optimization guide and Google’s guidelines to avoid any issues in the first place.
Your listing can also be suspended when a person reports a listing on Google search or Maps, or through the Suggest an Edit feature or GMB’s Redressal Form. This may happen when a person believes that they’ve come across misleading or fraudulent information about a business. Suspensions may also happen after you make changes to your listing, such as deleting an address or changing a business storefront location to a service area business.
Types of GMB Suspensions
If you get hit with a hard suspension, you won’t be able to bring up your listing record, and you will receive a removal notification. You’ll know you’ve received a hard suspension when you search your business name and city and your Knowledge Panel (the box on the right of the search results with your business information) doesn’t appear. Businesses that receive hard suspensions usually do not qualify for a GMB listing in the first place, or they have used some sort of spammy tactic.
If your GMB listing has received a soft suspension, you’ll see a suspension notice when you log in to your dashboard. Your Knowledge Panel will still display in search results, but it will be labeled as unverified and you won’t be able to manage or update your listing until you provide proof of verification. Soft suspensions also make your listing more easily subjected to user-suggested edits, making it more vulnerable to wrong information being suggested and displayed.
Owner Account Suspension
An owner account suspension completely removes an owner’s Google account, as well as all GMB listings and reviews. This happens when the owner violates guidelines with their personal account, such as submitting spammy map edits. If you’re able to successfully reinstate the account, the listings will return, but reviews may be lost.
Manager Account Suspension
A manager account suspension removes a manager’s ability to edit a listing. Just like an owner account suspension, the manager account suspension occurs when a manager breaks guidelines or practices spammy tactics. Fortunately, the listing will remain unaffected.
How to Fix the Problem
1. Determine Why Your Listing Was Suspended
If you received the dreaded suspension notification, we’re sure you’re eager to fix the problem right away. The first step is to figure out why your listing was suspended. As we mentioned before, Google does not explicitly provide a reason for suspensions, so determining the cause can take a bit of guesswork.
One reason for a suspension could be if you made several updates to your listing at one time, causing Google to become suspicious. Here are some other possible changes that can raise a red flag and trigger a listing suspension:
- Using a P.O. box as your business address. GMB listings cannot be set up without a physical address.
- Setting up your listing at a co-working space or virtual office space.
- Operating a service area business but displaying a physical address on your listing.
- Providing a shared address – i.e. if another business shares your same address.
- Keyword stuffing your business name.
- The URL used in your profile forwards to another website or social media page.
- You changed your listing from a storefront to a service area business.
- You list your business hours as 24/7.
- Your business hours or address don’t match what’s listed on your website.
- You created duplicate listings for the same business at the same address.
If you’ve done any of these things, you’ll need to fix the problem before you reach out to Google to get your listing reinstated.
Pro tip: While it can feel tempting to fill out the reinstatement form right away or even create an entirely new listing for your business – resist the urge! Taking either of those actions will cause complications and could harm your listing in the long run.
Look at each field in the Info section of your GMB profile to see if anything is amiss. Pay close attention to how the same information is displayed on your website. Does your business name match? What about hours and location?
2. Get a Second Opinion on the GMB Help Forum
Once you think you’ve fixed the issues with your listing, get a second opinion. Head over to the GMB Help Forum and share the details of your suspension and how you fixed it. Be sure to include the following information to help volunteer moderators on the forum.
- Your website URL
- Full, legal business name
- The address you used to verify your listing
- The Google Local Page URL
- Screenshot of the Info section of your GMB dashboard
- Explain what you changed right before your listing was suspended.
- Attach images of permanent signage or other images that provide proof of your business name and address (e.g. business license).
Providing all this information helps the forum moderators offer ideas on your suspension as well as advice on what you should change to help you get your listing reinstated in a timely manner.
3. Fill Out the GMB Reinstatement Form
Now that you’ve fixed the issues with your listing, it’s time to fill out the reinstatement form. The form includes a series of questions about your listing, which you should answer completely and honestly.
Next, you’ll have to enter your name, email address, business name, address, GMB listing URL, and phone number. You’ll also need to provide details about how you changed your listing since it was suspended, as well as any additional information you think is relevant. Then, you must provide photos or screenshots showing that your business is valid, as well as proof of your address if you have a storefront. Here are some examples of photos and attachments to include.
- Your storefront as seen from the front of your building or the street
- Permanent signage at your location
- The inside of your business where customers have access
- A link showing the Google Street View image of your location, if available
- A business license or registration with your Secretary of State
- Pictures of your business logo on a company vehicle
- Insurance documents
The reinstatement form is where you make your case for getting your listing back up and running, so be sure to include all the essential proof you can think of.
4. Contact Support If Necessary
Once you submit your appeal, Google will review the information and determine if your listing should be reinstated. Google will email you about the status of your request. Be patient; it typically takes two weeks for Google to review all of the information. If it’s been more than three weeks and you haven’t heard back, contact GMB support via Facebook or Twitter to ask for an update.
When you contact support, Google must confirm that you actually own the account you’re writing in about. Log in to your business listing in the GMB dashboard and copy the URL. You should also provide your listing’s CID number (the unique number Google assigns to a specific business), which can be found using this tool.
When your business gets reinstated, you may find that your reviews have disappeared. Keep in mind that it can take longer for them to reappear after reinstatement, even up to a month after. If they haven’t reappeared after a month, contact GMB support to see if they can help. This final step is extremely important since users rely on Google Reviews to make decisions about trusting your brand and booking a tour or activity with your business. Read more about the importance of online reviews here.
Now that you know more about GMB suspensions, you’ll hopefully be prepared if this scenario ever happens to you. The best way to be prepared is to familiarize yourself with the GMB guidelines and take extra care when considering making changes in your dashboard.
Finally, having a well-rounded digital marketing strategy can help soften the blow if your account does get suspended, since your business will still have a strong online presence through other methods such as PPC ads, social media marketing, and more.