A Google “Glitch” Suspends 6,000 Business Listings

suspended Google My Business ListingLast night our team added a business description to a law firm’s Google My Business location that we manage. The law firm’s business listing is 100% legit, with photos of the exterior and interior, legitimate reviews, staff pictures and has been published for 3+ years. It is not a virtual location, and is a free standing address with no suite number. Later in the evening we went back to the listing to pull some data only to find that the listing was suspended. Not knowing what happened, or how this could have possibly occurred, I personally called the Google Local assistance line at (844) 491-9665 to ask questions and find out why the listing was suspended. Update – upon further investigation our team also added a “Short name & URL”, which seems to be the official trigger as reported by Search Engine Journal for this glitch.

If you’ve ever talked to someone at Google Local you’ll understand my frustration and anger when you see a summary of the conversation:

Me: Hi I’m calling to see why a listing I manage was suspended.
Google Local Rep: Let me verify the listing (does Google stuff in background)
Google Local Rep: Yes I see that the listing was suspended, did you make any recent changes to the listing?
Me: Yes, we added a business description.
Google Local Rep: I see that there is a current glitch in our system that has suspended over 6,000 business listings, you have to submit a reinstatement request.
Me:
Google Local Rep: Sir, Hello?
Me: Did you just say a “glitch” suspended over 6,000 business listings on Google?
Google Local Rep: Yes, Would you like me to walk you through the process to request the listing to be reinstated?
Me: So over 6,000 businesses are essentially shut down on Google and have to go through a process to reinstate their listing?
Google Local Rep: Yes, but once you fill out the form it should be reinstated within 24-48 hours.

Google my business reinstatement request

I Have Questions

It doesn’t surprise me that someone from Google doesn’t particularly care about the welfare of 6,000 businesses. However, it raises some questions: A) How could a “glitch” shut down thousands of Google business listings, B) Why doesn’t Google have an automated way to reinstate those listings without harm to the businesses, C) Should I avoid making edits to improve a listing for fear that it will be suspended, and D) Why is the escalation process to reinstate the listings so terrible?

UPDATE July 18,2019

It’s now been nearly 3 weeks since this client’s listing was wrongfully suspended and I called Google yet again. The rep said that she can confirm that the listing was mistakenly suspended by Google, and that she can see I’ve correctly submitted the reinstatement request and that all I can do is wait. When I asked why she can’t assist, the Google Rep said that the issue had been escalated and that there are still thousands of businesses “in line” waiting to be reinstated and that all we can do is wait. She said she takes at least 20-30 calls a day and at least 5 or 6 are in reference to this issue. Furthermore, she said that it could be several weeks before anything is done. She also said that they may, or may not contact me when the listing is reinstated. This should be an embarrassment to Google and illustrates an indifference to the businesses that make them successful.

UPDATE August 9, 2019

We received an Email that said the following: “Hello, Thank you for contacting Google My Business team. We’ve looked at your account and it looks like your business is not eligible to display on Google Maps per our quality guidelines. Check out our guidelines for representing your business on Google.” Knowing that our client has a free standing location, with permanent affixed signage on the building and a photo of this I decided to call Google My Business support once again to see what the problem was. Google support stumbled around for an explanation and then claimed that another department had done an “investigation” and concluded that the business was not legitimate. When I asked him to look at the photos loaded into the suspended Google My Business profile showing the office building. I then asked him that if some mysterious investigator concluded that it was not a legitimate business, how could their be a building with the law firm’s name on it? He was dead silent, and I eventually coaxed him into agreeing that no one did any type of investigation. He then started offering red herring reasons as to why the listing was denied a reinstatement, which was really just guessing on his behalf. He said the only thing I could do, once again, was fill out the reconsideration request and wait. So here we are, nearly 2 months into this clusterfXXX and no closer to a resolution than when we started. One look at comments on the Google My Business Facebook page and you can see some of the scope of the problem.

Google listing suspension

UPDATE August 23, 2019

At 3:52am I finally got the Email that the listing has been reinstated, 3 days shy of 2 months offline. While it’s still not showing on Google Search yet, the listing does show that it’s “Verified” in the GMB dashboard. Someone also brought up in the comments of this article that I should watch to make sure that the reviews on this listing don’t get magically deleted too, another pervasive problem I’ve heard a lot about with reinstated listings. While I wish I can say that I’m relieved, this whole experience makes me and my team apprehensive about dedicating so much time, energy and resources to a platform that can essentially wipe out our client and then shrug their shoulders.

Google doesn't care about small businesses

For the Time Being Don’t Touch your Google My Business Listing

Based on feedback from other agencies and attorneys it seems that any update to your business listing, no matter how insignificant you think it may be and especially the Google Short Name & URL, because it can potentially trigger an unwarranted suspension. That means if you login to update your hours for a holiday, add a business description or even add a photo your listing on Google can potentially be suspended for several weeks (or months) while Google works this out. Just leave it alone, even if it’s inaccurate because it’s at least better to have it up than have to wait for a mistaken suspension to be lifted.

Is it Time for the Government to Regulate Google?

As digital marketers our livelihood depends on Google, and having worked with law firms and businesses their livelihood often depends on Google – because that’s how people usually look for information and businesses. Google has done so much to empower business owners to take control of their marketing, and entrepreneurs to help businesses manage things like “Google My Business” that it makes what I’m about to say very difficult… Maybe it IS time for regulation. If Google can essentially shut down 6,000 businesses by removing them from local search because of a “glitch” (their words not mine), and require the business owner to 1) discover the error and 2) jump through the Google hoops… how can we say that this shouldn’t be regulated? This could quite literally bankrupt a small business that is dependent on Google search. People who know me personally will know that this is very out of character for me to say, but I can’t sit back and accept that one corporation is the gatekeeper of the collection of nearly all information and that nearly everyone on the planet is subject to their glitches, mistakes, terms & conditions and carefree attitude. That’s not Capitalism, that’s a Monopoly. Even worse, it’s a Monopoly on information.

Google My Business local business reinstatement request checklist

About The Author

Doug Bradley
Doug Bradley
I work with law firms to increase their presence on search engines through website optimization. Marketing a law firm hasn’t been “like it used to be” for a while now and the only guarantee is that it will continue to change. Learn more about my experience here.

10 Comments

  • Jen on July 24, 2019

    My business has been suspended for over a month. This is crazy and hurting our business, when competitors are still out there and we are not.

    • Doug Bradley on July 25, 2019

      Hi Jen, Thanks for your comment. I seem to think Google won’t really care unless they get enough negative press. Unfortunately, this is just not a big enough problem for them to care about quickly.

  • Jaime on July 29, 2019

    My HVAC client is also suffering from this. We are in south FL, USA. It’s been 1 week, no response or follow up. Called Google, “just give it more time” is the response.

    • Doug Bradley on July 30, 2019

      Hey Jaime, That’s the exact response we’re getting too. It’s now been 1 month that my client has been suspended and I know they’re feeling it. Unfortunately there’s absolutely nothing I can do, and nothing Google will do.

    • Doug Bradley on July 30, 2019

      Thanks Rob, get the word out and put pressure on Google. Hopefully they will listen.

  • Gavin Murray on July 30, 2019

    My business has been “pending” for about 20 days when it says “it may take up to 3 days.” I’m trying to list a new business so I’m not even out there yet. It’s ridiculous. All of my competition is out there stealing all of my business. I called google my business and they said there is a glitch and they are working on fixing it. It’s pitiful.

    • Doug Bradley on July 30, 2019

      Hi Gavin, I keep hearing the same across several industries. I can’t believe that Google is doing all they can to resolve the problem.

  • Corpely.com on August 22, 2019

    This is a trending issue for disappeared reviews after reinstatement. My business has been suspended on the h of April 19 and Mr. Helmut Geissler (PE) has been contacted via community and after 4 days, listing has been successfully reinstated. We had 262 reviews but they all not showed up. A second escalation in regards to lost reviews has been sent to GMB specialist. Meanwhile I learned that it is a trending issue. We are all in the same boat waiting impatiently for days and week. Hope that Google will recover and I have a special thank to all product experts who are devoting their precious time in this trending issue. Have a great week end ahead and let’s be all positive.

    • Doug Bradley on August 23, 2019

      I woke up this morning to an Email that the business listing in questions has been reinstated. Your comment brings up another issue I’ve heard a lot about regarding reinstated Google My Business listings. I’ll have to wait and see if the reviews are reinstated as well.

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