Google Business Profile (GBP) is a key component of a local business’s online presence. For a quick refresher, read our overview article on what you need to know about GBP. We also have an article that discusses the importance of Google Business Profile.
Because Google Business Profile is so important to the success of your local business, getting your account suspended is a major problem. A suspension results in the profile either disappearing from Google or becoming inaccessible to the account’s owner/manager.
Just as frustrating is the fact that Google usually doesn’t disclose the reason an account got suspended. This makes the process of resolving the violation and getting the profile reinstated that much more difficult.
There are guidelines for representing your business on Google. If your account was to get suspended, you could read the guidelines to try to identify which rule was violated. However, not every violation is obvious.
In this article, we’re going to share some of the common reasons your Google Business Profile could get suspended. Familiarizing yourself with them will help you keep your profile in compliance or, in the worst case, figure out where you went wrong.
Many of Google’s rules pertain to the types of addresses that are eligible for Google Business Profiles.
These types of addresses are NOT allowed:
- PO Box Address
- UPS Box Address
- Virtual Office or Co-Working Space Address
There are a few exceptions to the co-working space address ban. If your business is located in a co-working space, it may be eligible for Google Business Profile if:
- You rent a dedicated office
- The location has permanent signage
- Customers can see you at your location
- You and/or your employees are present at the location during business hours
If you have a home-based business and want to use that address for your GBP, you must have permanent business signage at your home and customers must be able to see you there. Failure to comply with either of those requirements is a violation.
If you have a service area business (SAB) that you run from home but travel to customer locations to work, you are not allowed to display your home address in your profile.
It’s important to note that address violations may not be flagged immediately. So even if your profile appears to be operating normally, it could only be a matter of time before it is found in violation.
Core Information Edits
With Google Business Profile, a good rule of thumb is to get information right the first time. This is especially true of core profile information including business name, address, phone number and business categories.
Understandably, Google may find it suspicious if core information gets changed. It is assumed that a business doesn’t change its name, address, phone number or business type often… if at all. So, if those core profile components are changed, Google may think something suspicious is going on with the account.
Obviously, if you do need to edit core information to accurately reflect your business, you can do so. But know that it could potentially trigger a suspension that you’ll need to resolve with Google.
Keyword Stuffing Your Business Name
Google penalizes keyword stuffing in website content, so it’s no surprise they do the same to Google Business Profile. The business name section of GBP should only contain the exact name of the business and nothing else.
Some businesses try to game the system by including keywords or city names to help their GBP rank better. Any short-term ranking boost will only last until the account inevitably gets suspended.
Businesses Sharing Addresses or Phone Numbers
Typically, Google frowns upon multiple businesses sharing the same address or phone number because it can be a way to get higher rankings. They aim to prevent:
- Home-based businesses from creating multiple GBPs using the same home address
- A single business creating more than one business using the same address
For example, a business that provides both landscaping and handyman services should have a single GBP that lists all applicable business categories as opposed to having separate GBPs for the landscaping and handyman branches of the business.
Exceptions to the “no sharing” rule include office buildings, malls, car dealerships with separate service/repair businesses, etc.
Soliciting Fake Reviews
Reviews are a vital portion of Google Business Profile. They contribute to the trust and credibility of a business. But reviews must be genuine from actual customers. Trust is broken if business reviews aren’t legitimate.
Google will suspend the profile of any business that is found to be soliciting reviews from non-customers.
Having a Spammy Business Category
Not all red flags with Google Business Profile are the fault of the business. For instance, certain business categories/industries have a reputation for having “spammy” or fake profiles.
These heavily scrutinized business categories include:
- Garage door businesses
- Real estate buyers/sellers
- Insurance sales
- Pest control
- HVAC sales/service
- Tree service
If your business falls under one of these categories, be extra diligent about following the rules.
Anyone viewing your GBP can report you for violations. This is done via the “Suggest an edit” link. When they see a violation or inaccuracy with the profile, they can report it to Google, which can result in a suspension.
By encouraging community-aided accountability, Google hopes the businesses utilizing the platform will be honest and do things the right way.
Keep Your Google Business Profile Online & In Compliance
This article covered many of the well-known reasons your Google Business Profile could get suspended. However, it’s not an all-inclusive list. To remain in compliance so people can find your business online, keep yourself informed of Google’s guidelines and follow them.
If you mistakenly violate a rule or wrongfully get caught up in a “spam suspension sweep,” don’t worry. There is a process to remedy the situation and get your profile back. Depending on the nature of your suspension, you may have to either re-verify your business or submit a reinstatement request.
Don’t have the time or knowledge to manage your account? Here’s how to give your marketing agency access to your Google Business Profile. Have additional questions about Google Business Profile or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.