Several months ago there was a lot of chatter in the SEO community about Google My Business (GMB) listing suspensions. Google was suspending active listings of real local businesses, just for making small changes to the business address or phone number.
Many times the process to reactivate a suspended listing with help from Google Support can take days, if not weeks. In the meantime, your customers can’t find you on the map anymore…
If you own a local business that’s ranking well and getting leads from the map, this can really hurt the bottom line. On top of that, there’s a chance your listing may never get restored and that can really hurt your business for reasons we’ll look into further down…
Heads-Up! Google’s Suspending Listings Again
Based on some fresh intel, a lot of SEOs out there are seeing this again, and it seems to be closely related to category changes this time. Anyone that’s spent a few years optimizing Google listings will tell you that GMB categories are one of the most powerful ranking factors that can help you show up better on the local map. For now though, it’s probably too risky to make any changes at all to your listing information.
There’s either a glitch, or possibly even an intentional sweep to clean up spam, so we’re recommending you don’t make any changes to your information on your GMB profile for the next few weeks. It’s not worth the risks we’re going to look at closer in the next section, so just stay away from the Info section pictured below entirely right now.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Aside from the possible risk of suspension and missing out on leads for days or even weeks, there’s the possibility your listing may never get restored. You’d have to start over by creating a brand new one, which is bad for a few reasons:
- That’s a lot of work to repeat!
- GMB listings and wine have two things in common, they get better with age…
You may have heard someone say that a website ranks better as time passes, and that’s absolutely true. Google trusts older websites more. They get a slight advantage that makes it difficult for a new business to overcome, unless they hire a shit-hot SEO team to brute force things for them.
Google also seems to give older, established Google My Business properties better visibility than new listings. Again though, that’s something an experienced SEO can overcome in a few short months.
What CAN You Do? Is there any way to boost local visibility right now?
Local businesses that rely on Google My Business for a significant portion of their leads can still take action to improve their local ranking without having to risk suspension. Here’s a few things you can do in the meantime, while updating your Info is off-limits.
Focus on your website
Your website’s on-page SEO has a direct correlation to how well your GMB will show up locally in the search results. Figure that out, and you’ll have the added benefit of better organic rankings as well.
Build a better GMB posting calendar
It’s important to post as frequently as possible (within reason) on your GMB profile. I recommend posting about 5 times per week and we haven’t seen any suspensions from posting or scheduling posts through 3rd party programs, so that seems to be a safe way to improve your profile right now.
Focus on citations and NAP consistency
This is a good time to make sure your business information is represented accurately and consistently everywhere possible online. Sites like Yelp, AngiesList, HomeAdvisor and YellowPages are all opportunities for you to earn a citation (AKA mention) of your brand. The more times your business is mentioned on quality websites, the better you’ll show up in local search.
When will this all be over?
We don’t know at the time of writing and I suspect it will be an ongoing problem for at least a few more weeks. In the meantime, focus on what you can do to improve your local visibility without risking the wrath of Google.
If you need to update your info and you’d rather not have to go digging around SEO forums to find out when it is safe to do so again, reach out to Atomic and let us take on the headache of dealing with Google’s sometimes-buggy local search algorithm for you.