Google Business Profile is an effective marketing channel for local businesses that meet with customers in person.
But when you run a local business, one of the worst things that can happen to your business is having your Google Business Profile suspended.
When a Google Business Profile is suspended, it either disappears from Google completely (which is often the case) or becomes inaccessible to the profile owner or manager. Neither of which is good news.
For many business owners, this is devastating. (Many of my clients have told me that if they can’t get their Business Profiles reinstated, they would have to close their businesses.)
Because Google typically doesn’t disclose the reason for suspension, it can be frustrating for business owners as they fumble around trying to fix the violation and reinstate their profile.
Why do Google Business Profiles get suspended?
When your Business Profile gets suspended, the first step is to thoroughly read the Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google.
In many cases, you can figure out what rule you violated.
But some “unwritten” rules can trigger profile suspensions, which makes things even more complicated.
Determining what caused your suspension is almost like being a detective.
Let’s put on our detective hats and discuss five common reasons why Google Business Profiles get suspended.
1. Address violations
Google has extensive rules concerning the types of addresses eligible for Google Business Profiles.
Some of the most violated guidelines involve using:
- A P.O. Box address.
- A UPS Box address.
- A virtual office or a co-working space address.
None of these types of addresses are allowed.
The only rare exception is a co-working space address, given you meet the following criteria:
- You rent out a dedicated office.
- The location has permanent signage.
- You can see customers at your location.
- The office is staffed during business hours. (Either you or your employees must be there. And, no, the co-working staff are not your employees, so they don’t count!)
As you can see in the example below, the co-working space’s address – and even overlapping suite numbers – are used by multiple businesses for Google Business Profiles.
Another address violation is displaying your home address in your Google Business Profile when you don’t have permanent signage at your home and are not seeing customers there.
If you have a service area business (SAB) and run your business out of your home but go out to your customers to do the work, you are not allowed to display your address in your GBP.
A quick look on Google Maps shows that this landscaping company is violating the rule.
When you look up the company’s address on Maps, you can see a photo of the business owner’s residence. Another profile just waiting to get suspended.
Some businesses may get away with violating address guidelines for a while, but it will catch up with them eventually.
2. Making changes to your profile
Editing core information on GBP (i.e., business name, address, phone number or business categories) can trigger a suspension.
Google may find it suspicious if these key areas get edited.
After all, how often does a business change its name? Their address? Their phone number? The type of business they are?
The answer: not very often.
So think long and hard before you change any of the major fields in your Business Profile. You may inadvertently trigger a suspension.
Get the daily newsletter search marketers rely on.
3. Stuffing your business name with keywords
Thinking of adding extra words to your company name – like a city name or keywords? Not a good idea. (Yes, you may rank higher but won’t rank at all when your profile gets suspended.)
In the example below, the realtor is considered a “practitioner” and should only use her first and last name as her business name – no other words.
As you can see, she’s keyword-stuffed her business name with “realtor” and “real estate agent.” (Realtors are among the big offenders of the business name guidelines.)
The short-term gains you might get from keyword stuffing your business name are not worth the risk of getting your Google Business Profile suspended.
4. Two businesses sharing the same address or phone number
Google generally doesn’t like it when two businesses share the same address or phone number. (The same address exception would be at office buildings, malls, car dealerships with separate service/car repair businesses, etc.)
This rule primarily prevents:
- Home-based businesses from creating multiple Business Profiles at their home address.
- A single business from creating more than one business at one location/address.
An example of this was recently seen on the Google Business Profile Help Forum. A landscaper had a GBP set up for his landscaping business, which he ran from his home.
He then set up another Google Business Profile for a “new” business he started – a sod-laying business. (But isn’t laying sod part of landscaping?)
He couldn’t figure out why the new sod-laying Business Profile got suspended.
It was clear to me – and obviously to Google – that this man was trying to game the system by creating two GBPs at the same address to get higher rankings.
What he should’ve done is add “sod supplier” as a category to his existing landscaping Business Profile.
Google doesn’t want people to set up more Business Profiles to try and get higher rankings.
5. Someone reported your violations to Google
Another way for your Business Profile to get suspended is if someone reports your violations to Google directly.
Have you ever noticed the “Suggest an Edit” link in Google Business Profiles?
If your GBP listing violates guidelines, all someone has to do is make a suggested edit to fix your violation, and that could cause your profile to get suspended.
Think of it like a “neighborhood watch” type of program. This option helps keep everyone on the platform honest.
The Redressal Form can also be used to report GBP violations.
Are there other reasons why your profile can get suspended?
There are probably dozens of reasons why Google can suspend your profile – many of which only Google knows about. So your best bet is to follow the guidelines. All of them.
Take my word. Getting your Business Profile listing suspended – and then reinstated – is not a walk in the park.
In many cases, it can devastate businesses. Messing around by trying to skirt the rules is not worth the risk. So read – and follow – the rules.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.