Creating a local listing for your small business through Google Business Profile and other local search directories is a great way to reach more customers, create brand awareness, and improve your business’ visibility online. However, if your business doesn’t adhere to guidelines and qualifications with these directories, your local listing could be suspended. In our guide below, we’ll help you understand if your business listing is eligible to appear in local search results and how to fix it if it isn’t.
- What Determines Local Listing Eligibility?
- Common Reasons for Local Listing Ineligibility
- How to Reinstate a Suspended Local Listing
What Determines Local Listing Eligibility?
Not only can eligible local business listings improve your search engine rank, but they can also provide your customers with valuable information, such as your address, store hours, website URL, and phone number.
Because of this, Google Business Profile (a.k.a. Google My Business) and other business listing sites have several guidelines you’ll need to adhere to in order for your listing to be eligible for local search. This is to prevent people from fraudulently claiming business listings and ensure that local business directories have relevant and accurate information. Involuntarily breaking these guidelines could cause your Google Business Profile listing to be suspended.
Here are the main qualifications you’ll need to meet for your business to be eligible for local listings.
A Physical Business Location
As most online business directories require address verification when creating a local business listing, businesses need to have a brick-and-mortar location where they can direct customers. For businesses that are considered service area and hybrid businesses (i.e., those that operate out of homes or that may not have a physical location), online business listings can still be set up, with the option of hiding the physical address—just be sure to specify your service area so Google can correctly display your business information.
Unfortunately, businesses that operate entirely online are not eligible to have a local business listing appear in Google’s local search results, as they do not serve a specific local area. However, instead of setting up a local business listing through Google Business Profile, virtual businesses can create a Google brand page.
Ownership of the Business
Obviously, you need to own a business—or have express permission from the business owner—to create and claim an online listing for it. Business owners and qualified non-owners (referred to in the Google Business Profile guidelines as “authorized representatives”) must only create one listing per business.
Accurate & Current Business Information
Your business’ contact information should be consistent across all local business platforms. This will make it easier for customers to find your business online and in-person, improve your local search optimization, and help ensure your business listing is eligible to appear in local search results.
It’s also worth mentioning that you should avoid promotional details in your online business listing. With Google Business Profile and other local directories, stick to basic details to avoid getting caught in spam filters.
Common Reasons for Local Listing Ineligibility
There are several reasons why a local business listing might be deemed ineligible besides not meeting the aforementioned qualifications. The quality of a business listing matters as much as its accuracy. The reasons why business listings can be suspended range from simple mistakes on the part of the business owner to search engine guidelines that are beyond your control. Let’s take a closer look.
Sensitive or Age-Restricted Products & Services
Businesses that sell alcohol, tobacco products, guns, and other age-restricted items might be denied eligibility for an online listing through Google Business Profile. This may be handled on a case-by-case basis, though. So business owners who sell age-restricted items need to be aware of how they portray their business to avoid being deemed ineligible. Also, illegal or inflammatory content is prohibited.
Irrelevant Business Description Information
With most local listings, you have the ability to add in a business description to give customers more information about what you do or what you offer. This space is designated for highlighting what makes your business unique, so providing irrelevant information can cause your listing to be suspended. The most common reasons for listing removal through Google Business Profile includes:
- Misleading information
- Low-quality or distracting content
- Focus on special promotions or offers
- Offensive or inappropriate content
Suspicion of Fraud or Spam
Spam is more commonly associated with some kinds of businesses than others, like rehab centers, carpet cleaners, lawyers, and electricians, among others. Spam filters are stricter for these kinds of businesses, so your online listing might be suspended accidentally. Thankfully, as long as you avoid including sales, deals, and promotional language in your business listing, you should be able to get it reinstated in the event it’s deemed ineligible.
Shared Listing Account
If the account you’ve used to set up your local business listing is already associated with another, Google Business Profile and other local directories might not accept your application. So double-check that you haven’t already used your account to register another business before setting up your profiles.
In some cases, business owners can do everything by the book and still have trouble appearing in local search engine results due to Google’s algorithm updates. These updates often occur out of the blue and can leave businesses scrambling to update listings they previously thought were fine. Fortunately, with algorithm updates, you just need to make Google’s recommended changes and submit an appeal for reinstatement.
How to Reinstate a Suspended Local Listing
Getting your Google Business Profile listing reinstated is fairly simple. Google recommends a three-step process if you believe your online business listing should be eligible to appear in local search results.
- Review Google Business Profile Guidelines.
- Sign into your Google Business Profile account and review your listing.
- Submit a request for reinstatement.
After you follow these steps, Google will review your business listing and, assuming it complies with their guidelines, your profile will be reinstated.
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