Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why Was My Business Suspended on Google Places?

One of the most important frequently asked questions we get at Randy Kirk and Associates is "I've been suspended from Google Places, now what do I do?" or "they've taken down all my listings on Google Places, what do I do?" I have clients or people that call me on the phone that have multiple locations. Sometimes those locations are real brick and mortar places where they have real business going on.  Sometimes those locations are UPS boxes or faux offices. But whatever they are, as long as they are legitimate locations, you should be able to maintain multiple locations without being suspended.

I have people with multiple locations that get suspended, and I also have people with individual locations that get suspended.  Typically, you're going to get suspended because you're doing something black hat; black hat approaches such as using a location that isn't real. Black hat might be using a name that isn't real or not the real name of your business.

So let's say the name of your business really is "Joe's Pizza," but you put "Joe's Pizza of Downtown Long Beach Serving Wine and Cheese" in order to try and get a lot of keywords. You can't do that unless you want to risk suspension.  You need to use the real name of your business. Sometimes you can throw in one more keyword without getting caught. Maybe you shouldn't do that either.  Maybe you should change the name of your business if you care enough about those keywords. But that's a good reason why you might be suspended.

You might also be suspended because you're using an inappropriate phone number in order to do tracking. You can't do tracking with Google Places. Your phone number needs to be the same on Google Places as it is on your website, and the same one should be used on your Yelp! and your Twitter and your Facebook. The same phone number needs to be used everywhere or you could end up being suspended by Google.

There's also things that you can do within your setup that might cause suspension. Your description might overuse certain keywords or use lots of capitals or do other things that Google doesn't like, and some of those are described in their rules. You might also do something wrong in your categories. I see a lot of folks trying to add their city to the category. So if your category is bakery, you can't put "bakery Diamond Bar." You have to just put "bakery." If you add the city, you have the potential to be suspended.

Be sure that you aren't doing the things that Google specifically says you shouldn't do. And then, as I say to so many folks, if you think it might be black hat, it probably is, so don't do it. If you're really unsure, and you think it's in the grey area, call me. I'll be happy to spend a minute with you on the phone and we can discuss whether what you want to do is black hat or not. We can help you get unsuspended. It's possible that even if you've been completely kicked off we can get you started over again. It's a much more difficult process than you probably want to tackle on your own, but once you're suspended, we can take a  look, and we can get in there and we can usually fix 100% of whatever is going on.

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