How to Avoid Having Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing Suspended

Posted: in Pulse on the Industry , SEO and Content Marketing

Since 2016, High level Marketing has been evangelizing the use of Google My Business to support your digital marketing strategy. Since then, the use of GMBs has only grown.

Google My Business is a powerful, digital tool when used correctly.

However, the use of this incredible tool gets kneecapped when Google suspends it. We have seen more and more locations suspended for not being legitimate business locations. SEO Webmasters have identified that Google is cracking down and suspending more Google My Business listings than ever before.

While these all are not fake listings, it’s clear that Google is attempting to clean house; having a legitimate Google My Business setup in the proper way is the best defense against a suspension. 

Imagine You are a Business Owner with Dreams of Growth...

You live in a suburban Michigan area. It’s March, and the weather is getting warmer and the snow is melting, revealing lawns across America that desperately need maintenance. As you prepare for the lawn-care season you take note of the area you live in and those potential customers who inhabit it. You figure there’s enough demand to take you through to summer, but not enough beyond that. Your lawn-care business is ranking well in your immediate area, but you think you can do better. 

You then realize you have a sister out East, 70 miles or so away. Why can’t you create a Google My Business listing for your business and use her address to verify? That way you can not only rank in your own area but maybe you can get some visibility out there as well? 

You let your sister in on your idea, set up the GMB, and start marketing in that area. Within a few days, you realize your “satellite” location, and maybe your original location, has been suspended! Why is that?

The Problem with Fake Listings on Google My Business (GMB)

You know that creating a fake business address isn’t the best idea, but nobody finds out faster than Google. When using Google My Business to put your business on Google searches the rules are many, but none more so than “transparency.” 

If it were easy and possible to create fake GMB profiles using the addresses of all your friends and family, GMB would be a lot less beneficial than it is now. Google consistently optimizes for user experience from the customer’s point of view. Ensuring your legitimate business listing is as accurate and trustworthy as possible remains the best method to getting the most out of the listing in your immediate backyard. 

Fake Listings Can Run, But not Hide

Much has been tuned and adjusted over time to ensure as many GMB listings are as legitimate and reliable as possible, although not all fake listings are squashed immediately. Google has also been suspending GMB listings more frequently recently.

While fake or “spammy” listings can escape Google’s clutches, they tend to be easier to spot than you’d think. It’s not uncommon for spam listings to include the bare minimum information about the business - just enough to get the listing verified out and there. 

In our experience with over 1,000 active clients, we’ve found that there are a number of recurring items that Google looks  to when determining the legitimacy of a listing:

  Legitimate Google Listing Fake Google Listing
Keyword-Stuffed Business Name The name on GMB matches or nearly matches the registered name of the business The GMB business name contains multiple additional words to influence search ranking
Address Business registration matches the address for GMB Does not have a matching address or is not a registered business location
Virtual Address The address is either a home address registered to the business or a brick-and-mortar location The address is a PO Box, UPS Store, or another type of virtual address
Website Postal  Address The website also contains the address listed on registration and GMB The website doesn’t contain a matching address or shows a different address than GMB
Signage Business location has signage matching the GMB listing’s location and/or matches what is visible on Google Street View Location does not feature signage of the business and/or doesn’t match what is visible on Google Street View
“Phone Number Only” Listing Legitimate listings usually list their legal business name, physical address (unless they are a home location), website, and phone number at a minimum Fake listings often have keyword-stuffed business names, do not show their physical address, and often only have a phone number 

Keep an eye out for listings that include photos, business hours, a proper website, and are not in random locations. Listings with no reviews are not immediate red flags, although the obvious goal for any legitimate listing is to get as many reviews as possible (preferably good reviews!). Once you’re able to spot a spam listing you can easily flag it as such for Google to review and hopefully suspend. After a couple of these you’ll be a pro at cleaning up your area (you may even find a competitor listing to be spam!). 

Harness the Power of Google My Business and Digital Marketing 

When creating a GMB listing for your legitimate business, upfront honesty will serve you best. Just as lying to a customer may get you an immediate sale but will eventually be bad for business, transparency on your GMB will help your business most. 

Keep it to one listing per legitimate business location and address, keep the reviews coming in, and make sure to fill the listing out with as much accurate information about your business as possible to stay out of Google’s watchful eyes and grow your business the way you want.

If you need help elevating your business’s digital presence on GMB, organic and paid search, or through a new website, consider High Level Marketing as your business partner.

Jake Belknap
Content Manager