Small business owners who create a local Google+ page in Google My Business know they can get found more quickly by customers and prospects doing a search for local businesses. There’s just one caveat – you must follow Google’s rules when you create your listing.
Have you ever logged into your Google My Business account, discovered a red “Suspended” banner on your page and promptly freaked out and started googling “Why is my Google+ page suspended?” And then freaked out some more at the results that pop up? Small business owners who have already enjoyed this charming experience know how frustrating it is trying to figure out what caused the suspension – because Google doesn’t tell you.
Google makes two types of suspensions:
1. You log into Google My Business and find a red “suspended” banner on your page. You also discover that you cannot make any changes or edits to the listing. The one positive is that your local listing is still appearing on both Google and Google Maps.
What has happened is that Google determined that you did not follow one or more of their Guidelines and has now made your local listing unverified. Oddly, this does not affect the ranking of your listing in Google. Small yay. So what do you do? It’s time to create a new Google account, – pay attention to be certain you are following the Guidelines – and then you can re-verify your local listing.
2. The second suspension happens when you’ve been a very. bad. business. owner. Your local listing is taken down completely – and this includes ALL of the information your or your customers have posted. If you try accessing your listing via Google Map Maker you get the unfortunate “Removed” message. This means you have really ticked off the Google Gods and you need to do a lot of genuflecting to get them to reinstate your listing. And there is a very good chance that they won’t.
Here are 3 of the biggest reasons why Google will suspend your local listings:
Your business must have a physical location where your customers can come and meet with you or your staff face-to-face. You cannot have a local Google+ Page if you are an online business only. (If you are an online-only business you can have a Google+ brand Page instead).
Note: If you teach ongoing classes or hold regular meetings in a location that you do not own then you can ask the building’s owner to add your information to their local Google+ page.
The name of your business on your local Google+ listing needs to match the name on your physical location, your website, and even your letterhead. It should not include any extra words that are not normally included in your business name. For instance, if your business name is Joe’s Insurance, then it should not read “Joe’s Insurance in San Francisco” or “Joe’s Insurance the Best Little Insurance Company in Town”.
You need to show the actual address of your local physical location – not an address to a P.O. Box or to a mailbox located out in the woods somewhere far, far away from your actual business.
This should be obvious – but sometimes people don’t read the guidelines. The business phone number you list on your local Google+ page should be your actual business phone number – not a number to a call center somewhere far, far away from your actual business.
You must provide the url to your actual website – not a redirect to a Landing Page or the website of a second business that you also own…far, far away from your actual business.
Why are categories important? Categories are the descriptions people think of when they are trying to describe your business to the Google Search Gods in order to find you. There are two things Google wants you to do here.
1.Choose only a few categories to describe your business – do not go crazy and cram as many as you can into your page. Google frowns on anything resembling keyword stuffing.
1.Use the categories that are specific to your main business. Do not try to use categories that are relevant to a popular business near you, next door to you or even in the same building as you.
These are just some of the more obvious and important items to get right. So if you have a local listing on Google My Business or are getting ready to create one – take some time to familiarize yourself with the actual Guidelines – here – so that you make sure your page is playing nice with Google.
You don’t want your local listing getting suspended because Google decides your sandwich shop is actually a nefarious underworld operation. Your customers will end up at that “other sandwich place” two blocks away, morosely eating lousy ham sandwiches because they couldn’t access your local listing and decided you must have gone out of business.
Play by the rules. Don’t let your local customers eat lousy ham sandwiches.