GBP Suspensions: A Case Study

A Google Business Profile (GBP) is the lifeblood of most local SEO efforts. An optimized Business Profile can rank in the coveted 3-Pack—rich search results that appear before organic searches for local businesses.

Unfortunately, Google will often suspend Google Business Profiles. Worse yet, these suspensions don’t come with any clear reasoning; they’re handled, most frequently, by automated systems. Beyond that, it’s basically impossible to actually talk to a human about why a profile was suspended—or how to get it reinstated.

As an SEO agency, it’s our job to ensure that our clients don’t get their profiles suspended—and when they do get suspended, it’s our job to get those suspensions lifted as quickly as possible. In this case study, we will explore a suspension that one of our clients encountered—and how we got that suspension lifted.

The Problem: A Surprising GBP Suspension

Let’s begin by introducing our client:
  • It is a local Winnipeg business
  • It has been in operation for years
  • It has over 170 reviews, with an average score of 4.7
  • It ranks well for a variety of relevant keywords
  • It has a main keyword and location in its business name
  • It doesn’t have a physical location, but it serves all of Winnipeg
None of these things should warrant a suspension. The two points that might seem most ambiguous are the last two. There is, however, no requirement that your business have a physical address to be listed through GBP—a service area is all you need. Having a main keyword and location information can be tricky to manage from an SEO standpoint, but it’s most certainly not something that warrants a suspension.
example of a Google business profile
If these guys can get away with that name for their restaurant without a suspension, you know Google doesn’t suspend GBPs for keyword-optimized names.
An example of the Google Business Profile reinstatement form

Recurring Suspensions: A Suspicious Occurrence

The day our client’s profile got suspended, we took action immediately, submitting a reinstatement form. 

Reinstatement forms are the easiest method to end a Google Business Profile suspension. You can find the reinstatement form by clicking the link we’ve just provided. The forms are simple; you answer a number of questions, then you can submit for reinstatement.

From there, you add information about the Business Profile and then submit documents like business registrations and utility bills. 

We did this for our client. We got an automated response that the profile was not eligible.

We tried submitting again—no luck. These automatic responses made us somewhat suspicious that something nefarious was going on—this was, from all appearances, a profile in good standing.

SEO is all about gathering data and experimenting. We knew we would have to dig a bit deeper, so we began a broad survey of its GBP, off-page citations, and website.

Cleaning Things Up: A Broad Approach

First, we reviewed the profile. There are several different factors that can trigger a GBP suspension, including:

  • Inaccurate or misleading information in posts
  • Inaccurate or misleading information in the business description
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Incorrect contact information

While we were working to find any problems that could have caused a suspension, we reviewed other elements of the profile, like its hours of operation, to ensure that all elements of the profile were accurate.

In the end, we did not change anything about the profile—it was, as we suspected, well-optimized. This brought us to our next step—checking off-page name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations.

We use a number of different tools to scour websites for NAP citations; most of these websites are directories like the Yellow Pages. Over time, business names, addresses, and phone numbers can change—these changes affect the accuracy of citations. We modified a number of inaccurate citations in an effort to send positive signals to Google about the legitimacy of our client’s business.

Finally, we reviewed the content of our client’s website. Our goal here was very specific: To ensure that the content on our client’s site always referenced the full business name.

This required some restructuring—remember, our client has a main keyword and a location in its name. By changing content to include our client’s full name at all times, we ran the risk of looking like we were keyword stuffing. As such, we had to eliminate other references to the main keyword and location throughout the content.

We did this work as a type of due diligence—nothing in our client’s profile, our off-page citations, or our client’s site looked so egregious that it would warrant a suspension. Throughout the process, we repeatedly sent reinstatement forms to Google—and they were repeatedly rejected.

Our team had a suspicion that someone was reporting the GBP profile to Google. This is one of the biggest flaws of the GBP system—your profile can be reported by competitors or irate customers. The only way to know if that’s the reason your profile got suspended is by eliminating all other possibilities.

At this point, we had eliminated all other plausible possibilities. The most likely scenario was that someone had reported the profile. Time for some fine-tuning.

What Worked: A Concerted Effort

To rid our client of this pesky GBP suspension, we needed to prove to Google, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is a legitimate business with Winnipeg as its service area. 

Google offered us an opportunity in one of its reinstatement denials; it sent a form with the statement: “If you have further questions, please contact a specialist via this form.” That form offered a place to fill in more details as well as all of our case numbers. We submitted this form with a lot of different proofs. Here are some of the proofs we provided to Google:

  • The company’s lease
  • Its legal business registration 
  • Photos of staff wearing branded clothing
  • Photos of branded work trucks
  • A full video walkthrough of the client’s business—taken by the client. This video included:
    • A branded vehicle in the driveway
    • The inside of the vehicle, which contained relevant equipment
    • The inside of their garage with relevant equipment (the equipment is kept at home)
    • The inside of the house where the home office was. The client’s office contained printed versions of the legal business registration and the company’s lease.

Our goal was to provide Google with a surplus of evidence that our client operates a legitimate business and, thus, should have full access to its Google Business Profile. These efforts were only possible thanks to close cooperation with our client—and with a lot of patience.

The result? Google lifted the GBP suspension.

How Rankings Improved: The Conclusion

Once our client’s Google Business Profile was reinstated, we saw a number of changes. The first change was obvious—it was being listed in the 3-Pack for relevant queries. 

Beyond that, we also saw increased organic traffic after a slight dip due to the GBP suspensions. A well-optimized GBP can lead Google to rate your site as more relevant, leading to better organic rankings.

Finally, the reinstated GBP started ranking highly almost instantly—this is evidence that the Google algorithm liked the content of the profile (which, as a reminder, was unchanged). Someone reporting the profile is, thus, the most likely scenario.

Here are some of the drastic changes we saw once the suspension was lifted:

The GBP heatmap when it was suspended.
The GBP heatmap almost immediately after suspension.

See how the rankings changed throughout the process:

Our rankings, which suffered a dip, rebounded immediately after the GBP suspension was lifted.

With this, the First Rank Team, together with our client, managed to get the GBP reinstated, restoring its rankings and generating more traffic through 3-Pack and other GBP-related leads. Need help with a Google Business Profile suspension? Get in touch with us!

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The purpose of First Rank is to help businesses generate leads from their websites. We put a focus on SEO, because we believe it is one of the most cost effective and highest converting forms of traffic generation, however traffic alone is not enough on its own to grow your business. SEO should be combined with conversion optimization, email marketing and retargeting to maximize the ROI of your advertising dollars.