BIG changes are coming to Google’s policies around suspended Business Profiles. Here’s how it will impact your brand.
With Google at the helm as the world’s most used search engine, it is arguably the best way for businesses to get found. Any multi-location brand wants to rank well in Google’s search results. So imagine if a Google Business Profile (GBP) gets suspended, and it takes days, weeks, or even months to gather all the documentation needed to start the reinstatement process. That’s a lot of potential customers that may be going to the competition.
The search engine giant recently released a new reinstatement process for suspended Google Business Profiles in the EU. This change will soon be brought to US-based users — making what was once a simple process more complex and leaving GBP owners more vulnerable to losing their online listings. Google requires users to follow strict guidelines, i.e., valid location, providing full brand name vs. an acronym, an image of the storefront, etc., to ensure the validity of the business. Not adhering to the guidelines results in Google suspending the GBP. More importantly, there is the possibility of losing the listing entirely.
Though Google hasn’t released a date for the process changes, the Chatmeter team is dedicated to setting multi-location brands up to be successful when the day comes.
Why being prepared is so important for your business.
If a brand starts an online listing from scratch because Google doesn’t reinstate a profile, they’re losing more than valuable time. The Google search ranking a business acquires is a result of customers believing in a product or service and taking the time to leave a review. With the voice of the customer being more powerful than ever, maintaining historical review data is part of growing brand loyalty.
The changes to the reinstatement process will impact a business’s ability to contest a suspension, the time allotted to submit proper documentation, and could result in having to create all new listings. Showing up in a customer’s search result is crucial for multi-location brands. A suspension could result in a listing, and the customer reviews associated with it, being removed forever. That could mean a lot of lost business.
So, before panic sets in, let’s dive into understanding:
- How this process worked in the past
- The changes on the horizon and why brands must pay attention to these changes
- How to stay ahead and take action
Don’t worry— the Chatmeter team has you covered!
Google Business Profile reinstatement process: Current vs. New
While Google has not yet released the timing of the new reinstatement process for GBPs in the US, multi-location brands can glean insight into what’s to come thanks to the EU release. There are no absolutes on what will transpire once Google implements the new process, but marketers can prepare in many ways.
One of the best ways to prepare is to understand what’s changing. Here is a side-by-side look at the key differences:
Current Reinstatement Process
New Reinstatement Process
|GBP owners receive a form to reinstate a suspended account. Google Support receives this form for review.||GBP owners will receive an email and go through a self-serve, automated “Reinstatement Wizard.”|
|The reasons for suspension are broad, relating to suspicious activity or breaking Google’s guidelines.||The GBP owner receives guidance on the violation, i.e., a content violation. The profile owner should still follow guidelines.|
|There are endless opportunities for GBP owners to appeal the suspension and multiple ways to reach Google support agents to review the appeal.||GBP owners can’t contact support to review their appeal.|
|There is no time limit for an appeal or when documentation needs to be received.||Once the appeal starts via the “Reinstatement Wizard,” the GBP owner has 60 minutes to submit proper documentation. If the GBP owner misses this window, the appeal will be denied.|
|Google Support isn’t likely to reply with a resolution.||An email is sent to the account owner once the suspension lifts.|
Be proactive. Be prepared.
One of the most significant changes between Google’s previous reinstatement process and the new one is how much time a business will have to provide the necessary documentation once they’ve started the reinstatement process. Upon receiving the email notice that a listing is suspended, the account owner must think carefully about initiating the reinstatement process.
Here are two important things you need to do:
- Assemble all required documentation before initiating the Wizard. There’s nothing like contacting tens, hundreds, or even thousands of local managers for documentation when you need to get a listing back online ASAP. Users now must submit a business license or utility bill for all locations, even for those that do not require business licenses.
- Obtain a storefront photo for all locations. Use a phone or other digital camera to take the image. Save the picture as an image file (jpg, png, .zip, etc.) and submit it through the Wizard.
Gathering these documents is no easy feat. Be proactive, assemble your documentation before needing it, and keep it on hand for future use.
Be aware! Here are two recommendations to keep top of mind:
- There is no timer: You have 60 minutes to submit the required documentation once you initiate the Wizard. The Wizard will not keep time for you, so don’t get distracted. Blocking off your calendar to ensure you have uninterrupted time is a best practice to ensure you get the job done.
- No second chances: Google has decided that if a GBP owner has started the reinstatement process and fails to submit the necessary documentation, Google will not grant a second chance. As a result, the owner has to create a new GBP. And don’t forget, it’s vital for profile owners to be well-versed in Google’s Business Profile Guidelines.
Multi-location brands have long struggled to stay on top of managing their online listings. With the arrival of reputation management platforms like Chatmeter, marketers are empowered to work smarter, not harder. While managing online listings has become significantly easier, online review sites will continue to update their policies and guidelines, sometimes resulting in big changes that could dramatically impact a brand like this reinstatement process. The moral of the story here is as long as businesses are prepared and proactive, all will be well in the online listings universe!