Facing challenges in reinstating the Google Business Profile, despite adhering to all guidelines? Chances are the documents you sent to Google to verify your business are not sufficient enough to prove legitimacy.
Essential Documents for Registered LLCs to Submit to Google
While Google suggests submitting a utility bill for reinstatement, it often isn’t adequate on its own. To expedite the reinstatement process, provide Google with the following essential documents:
Articles of Incorporation
Assumed Name document or a Doing Business As (DBA) document
It’s worth noting that many businesses use a separate mailing address from their physical location. It’s crucial to ensure that the business name on your Google Business Profile aligns with the name on your Articles of Incorporation. If there’s a discrepancy, you’ll need to present your DBA document to Google.
Articles of Incorporation or Organization: These documents often require listing the physical address of the registered office or place of business.
Business Licenses and Permits: These often require the address where the business operations are conducted.
Commercial Lease Agreements: If your business rents its space, the lease agreement will show the physical address of the rented property.
Assumed Name Document/DBA: If a business operates under a trade name, the DBA filing often requires the physical address of the business.
Utility Bills: If the utilities are in the business name, these would show the physical location of the business.
EIN Confirmation Letter: This document doesn’t necessarily list the physical address of your business, it might contain the address where the IRS should send correspondence which could be the physical address.
The documents listed above are what Google is looking for when verifying or reinstating your Google Business Profile. Offering comprehensive information can expedite your reinstatement process. Keep in mind, Google’s primary aim is to confirm your business name and physical address. Therefore, make sure to submit documents that clearly highlight your business’s name and physical address.
How do I upload more then two documents to Google?
When applying for reinstatement with Google, you’re initially limited to uploading just two documents. However, post-submission, you should receive an email containing a case ID. Use this email to respond and send additional documents to further verify your business. While the response may seem generic, always assume that Google will review the supplementary documents you provide.
In your correspondence with Google, it’s best to steer clear of showing frustration or desperation about the reinstatement. Such sentiments won’t aid your cause. The suspension team’s primary focus is to determine that you’re a legitimate business, authorized to operate in your country.
Essential Documents for Sole Proprietors to Submit to Google
Sole proprietorships are abundant on Google Maps. These types of businesses are popular among handymen, appliance repair technicians, cleaning services, consultants, tutors, home-based ventures, and more. If you operate a sole proprietorship from your home, it’s essential to hide your address to stay compliant. For more details, refer to the Guidelines for Guidelines to Maintaining a Service-Area Business.
To assist Google’s suspension team in verifying your business, provide the following documents:
Local Business License or Permit: While many jurisdictions don’t require sole proprietorships to register at the state level, obtaining local business licenses or permits might be necessary based on the business type and local rules.
It’s crucial to emphasize that if your documents don’t confirm your business address and align with your business name on your Google Profile there’s a risk that Google won’t reinstate your business listing.
What If I Don’t Have an Address Listed on My Google Business Profile?
All Google Business Profiles mandate the input of an address. After entering it, you’re given the choice to conceal this address. It’s essential that the address in your profile aligns with the one in your documents. If you’re unsure about the address you’ve used, just navigate to the address field and select ‘edit’. From there, you can input the address again and then switch off the ‘show business address to customers’ option. Your profile’s map will display your service area, not the stored address.
If you require assistance with reinstatement, don’t hesitate to contact us.
How do I get my Google Business Profile reinstated?
Are you stuck wondering why your Google Profile was suspended? You are not alone, there are several businesses that have suspension issues and don’t understand why they were suspended off Google in the first place. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t tell you why you were suspended. There are a number of reasons Google will suspend your profile.
#1. You Violated Google Profile Policies
The most common violations are changes to your address, category, name, website or phone number. You may have multiple variations of your business name online or you have duplicate profiles. Another violation is multiple businesses claim to operate from your address. You must clarify any outstanding issues prior to filing for reinstatement.
#2. Incomplete or incorrect NAPs (name address phone)
It’s the owner’s responsibility to provide Google with the most up to date information about your business. This includes the hours of operation. Not only do you confuse your customers but it will raise a red flag with Google. Ensure your Google profile has the most up to date information on your
Business Phone Number
Business products or services
#3 Repeated Policy Violations
If you have received a suspension notification, you must take it seriously and optimize all areas of your profile. Be sure to examine all areas and review Google’s guidelines. What triggered your suspension may not be the only reason you are staying suspended.
6 Critical tips you need to review before you file for reinstatement on your Google Profile!
Make sure your address and URL matches all your social links. Many people make the mistake of updating their Google profiles prior to updating their website, FB and other social platforms. Having consistent data across all your social and website is one way Google can verify your business. Having accurate name, address and phone numbers (NAPs) are critical to your business
Update your Google map on your website. If you relocated make sure your website has been updated with the proper Map schema. To learn more about how to embed a Google Map on your web page click here.
Add an exterior photo to your Google Profile. When you add the photo make sure to include your signage. Window signage is also good.
Review Google guidelines and make sure you are compliant. Reading through and verifying all aspects of your profile is important before you try and file for reinstatement.
Get your business license handy and a utility bill. Its always helpful to provide Google with as much information to verify you are a legit business.
If you are a service-area business, you must hide our business address from customers. For example, if you are a plumber and run your business from your residential address, hide the address from your Business Profile. To learn more about Service Area businesses on Google, visit here.
After reviewing all aspects of your profile and you are sure that all updates are up to date then you can file for reinstatement with Google. Visit Fix Suspended Business profiles. Most profiles are reinstated withing 3 business days. However, it could take up to 2 weeks.
If you do not have the resources or time or simply can not get your account reinstated, reach out to us. Reputation Arm has a 99% reinstatement record.
Google Business Profiles are vital for businesses to enhance their online visibility and attract customers. However, certain actions can lead to the suspension of a Google Business Profile. As a Google product expert, I have witnessed numerous instances where businesses were flagged due to specific activities. In this blog, we will explore the common mistakes businesses should avoid when managing their Google Business Profiles, prevent being flagged by Google’s algorithms and maintain a strong online presence.
Create a separate Google Account to Manage your Business Profile
Do not manage your Business Profile with a Gmail account that regularly makes edits on maps, leaves reviews, or is an active email account. Avoid sharing access to your business profile with employees that may engage in this behavior while logged in. It is important that your Business Profile be managed under a Gmail account that does nothing else but manage your Google profile.
Spamming Keywords in Business Description
While it’s essential to optimize your business description for search visibility, stuffing it with irrelevant keywords is a red flag for Google. Keyword stuffing not only makes your profile appear unnatural but also diminishes the user experience. Craft a concise and informative business description that accurately represents your offerings and appeals to potential customers. Use keywords naturally and sparingly, focusing on providing valuable information rather than attempting to manipulate search rankings.
Avoid having Inaccurate Business Information
Providing inaccurate or misleading information about your business can have severe consequences. Ensure that your business name, address, phone number, and website are accurate and consistent across all platforms, including your Google Business Profile. Google’s algorithms prioritize accurate and up-to-date information to provide users with the most relevant results. Incorrect information can not only lead to account suspension but also negatively impact your reputation and customer trust.
Fake or Manipulated Reviews
Google values authentic and trustworthy reviews from customers. Engaging in fake or manipulated reviews, such as creating multiple accounts to leave positive reviews or posting negative reviews about competitors, is a violation of Google’s guidelines. Instead, focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences and encourage satisfied customers to leave genuine reviews. Respond to reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.
Reputation Arm has a comprehensive review management tool that can help your business generate new reviews, respond to reviews and provide sentiment analysis on all reviews received. Book a demo to learn more.
Violating Content Guidelines
Google has strict content guidelines that businesses must adhere to when managing their Google Business Profiles. Publishing content that is offensive, illegal, or violates copyright laws can result in account suspension. Avoid posting inappropriate or irrelevant content, and ensure that any images or videos associated with your profile are appropriate and reflect your brand in a positive light. Regularly review and update your content to maintain a professional and reputable online presence.
Suspended for Red Flags?
If your Google Business Profile is suspended and Google has informed you that your account has red flags and is not eligible to be reinstated, try these steps.
Create a new Google account and add it as a user to your business profile.
Transfer ownership to the new Google account. It takes 7 days to transfer ownership.
Remove the original user that may have been flagged.
Email Google on the original thread you received after filing for reinstatement. Let them know that you have remove the flagged user from the account.
Keep in mind that it may not always be a user that is flagged and these steps may not always have a positive outcome.
For help with a Google Business Profile suspension, contact us.
Google has recently updated its algorithms to flag business reviews, causing widespread concern and frustration among businesses and customers alike. Many businesses are reporting that their Google Reviews are missing, and legitimate customer reviews are not displaying. This has caused confusion and frustration for businesses and customers who rely on these reviews to make informed decisions. In response to these concerns, Google issued a statement onLocal Guides Connect acknowledging that “our protections took down more than expected policy-abiding reviews from a set of Local Guides.” This suggests that Google’s algorithms are not yet fine-tuned enough to effectively identify and only remove reviews that violate its policies, resulting in the removal of genuine reviews. Google has implemented a moderation system for all new reviews, automated by machines. However, the algorithm is not perfect, and it appears that authentic reviews are also being wrongly filtered in this moderation process. As a result, businesses across the world are experiencing negative impacts on new review generation for their business.
Google’s Policy on Reviews and User-generated Content
Once a reviewer hits “post” on a review left on Google Maps, that review goes through a moderation process. The system is designed to evaluate whether it violates any Google policies. Google provides information on what it considers to be prohibited and restrictedcontent.With the millions of reviews left daily, Google relies on algorithms to moderate the vast amount of reviews received daily. These algorithms focus on:
The text of the review
The account that left the review
The business receiving the reviews
While some reviews may clearly violate policies, others may not be as obvious. It’s important to note that what a business may consider offensive or off-topic does not match the same criteria as Google’s machine learning. This can be frustrating for businesses looking to remove negative reviews. In an effort to combat fake reviews, Google examines the account that left the review. Is it a newly created account or has it left multiple reviews? Does the account have a history of suspicious behavior? However, sometimes Google’s trained machines make mistakes.To ensure the authenticity of reviews, Google also examines the business in question. Their trained machines recognize categories that typically receive a regular stream of reviews compared to those that only receive a few per month on average. Therefore, if your business experiences a sudden influx of new reviews, you may be flagged for “suspicious activity.” Nevertheless, Google does take into account whether a business recently received negative publicity via social media or news outlets that could have triggered a surge of fraudulent reviewers. This helps maintain the integrity of Google’s review system. Mike Blumenthal, co-founder of Near Media and a Google Product Expert, conducted a study on missing reviews and identified the categories most affected by Google’s new algorithms. His findings showed that service-related businesses were the most impacted. New business profiles, particularly those created in the last three months, were also highly targeted. Businesses that asked for reviews using the “ask for reviews” URL from their Google profile were greatly affected as well. Additionally, Google now considers whether the reviewer actually visited the business, which has an impact on whether the review will be published or not.
For more information on why you are missing Google Reviews, check out 7 Reasons Why You Are Missing Google Reviews
How to Remove a Fake Review for Your Business: Steps to Take
Machine learning is not perfect but will improve over time. Businesses can report “fake” or “inappropriate” reviews on their Google profiles here and end users can report them here.
To escalate a review removal request on Google, businesses can seek help from Google Product Experts by posting their issue in the Google forum. The escalation process involves manual review by trained operators and analysts to evaluate the claims made by the business. To ensure a successful escalation, businesses should include the following information in their request:
If you have followed the process to remove the reviews and are still unsuccessful, you can post your issue in the Google forumand have a Google Product Expert escalate the review for you. The escalation process allows for trained operators and analysts to manually review your claims. For a deeper dive into combating Fake Google Review Attacks read Mike Blumenthal’s Step-by-Step guide.
Get Missing Google Reviews Published: Steps to Take
Many business owners are expressing frustration over the new machine learning algorithms that are filtering out legitimate reviews, resulting in an influx of missing reviews.
If your business is experiencing missing Google reviews, consider visiting the Google forum and requesting assistance from a Google Product Expert.
Through the escalation process, qualified operators and analysts can manually review your claims to help address the issue. When asking for help be sure to include:
In case you don’t have the image, you may try providing the Google account name. However, it’s important to note that the account name might not always be the same as the customer’s name. If the name doesn’t match, the review restoration process might not be successful.
Tips for Posting in the Google Forum: A Guide from a Google Product Expert
As a Google Product Expert, I often come across users who waste their time and energy by posting their issues incorrectly in the forum, resulting in not getting the help they need. If you need help from a Google Expert and want to post your issue in the Google Forum, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Avoid commenting on other users’ posts unless you have relevant and useful information regarding their issue.
If you find a thread helpful, mark it as such or recommend the posted answer to help other users.
Do not ask for help on someone else’s thread; start your own thread. A Google Product Expert can only help one user per thread.
Include all necessary images and your Map URL to avoid wasting time and receive proper assistance.
Provide specific details and avoid posting vague requests, as this will not help you receive the necessary help.
Remember that Google Product Experts are dedicated to helping users and providing their expertise for free. Always be respectful and mindful of their time and service. Note that they are not Google employees, but rather SEO experts in Google products.
Generating New Reviews with Reputation Arm’s Dashboard
Dealing with missing or fake reviews on your Google profile can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that Google is constantly working to combat illegitimate reviews. One way to stay ahead of the game is to focus on generating new, legitimate reviews for your business. Reputation Arm’s dashboard is a great tool to help you do just that.
Our platform makes it easy to manage and monitor your online reviews, and our team is always available to help with any questions you may have. Whether you need assistance setting up your account or want to learn more about how to effectively solicit reviews from your customers, we’re here to help. You can reach us by Phone, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out our contact form. Start generating new reviews and building your online reputation today with Reputation Arm.
If you run a business, you may receive a call or text from Google claiming to verify your data. However, with numerous scams out there, it can be challenging to determine whether the call or text is authentic. Ignoring a legitimate call or text from Google may lead to suspension, as seen in a Google Forum thread.
I Ignored A Text From Google And Now I’m Suspended!
In this Google Forum thread a business ignored what they thought was a scam but was actually an authentic text from Google. After ignoring the text the business was later suspended. While we do not know for sure that the business was suspended due to non-compliance with the text, the business owner was convinced that it did trigger the suspension.
How to Identify Authentic Calls or Texts from Google
When Google calls or texts you, they will identify themselves at the start of the call. It could be an automated message or a live operator. Google may also text you to confirm your business details. Here is an example:
Google only calls from the numbers listed below:
France: +33 185169412
India: +91 4067412333, 56161187
Mexico: +52 5550912025
New Zealand: +64-9-884-7777
United Kingdom: +44-207-660-1362
United States: +1-650-206-5555, +1-650-763-0461, +1-855-593-8213
Google understands that there are many fraudulent calls and scams and has published this support thread to help businesses identify legitimate calls from Google.
Google does not make sales calls, do not provide any financial information or access to your Google Business Profiles
Google only calls in the countries listed above
Google will identify themselves at the start of the call
Ignoring a legitimate call or text from Google can lead to suspension. However, by following these guidelines, you can identify authentic calls or texts from Google and avoid suspension. Remember to verify the caller or texter’s identity, do not provide financial information or access to your Google Business Profiles, and only communicate with Google from the numbers listed above.
Google Assistant is a newer tool offered by Google at no extra charge. Learn more about Google Assistant, here.
Is it best to start a new Google Business Profile or Rebrand your Google Business Profile after a sale? Each acquisition is different and it’s up to the brand owner to decide which is best for their business, below are factors to consider:
How many reviews does the business have?
Have the services, products, or menu items changed?
How are the local rankings of the Google Business Profile?
How old is the Google Business Profile?
If a business ranks well for certain keyword searches and has a number of good reviews, its business profile should be regarded as an asset to the new business owner. Rebranding a Google Business Profile is completely possible.
Everything You Need To Consider When Rebranding Your Google Business Profile
Is the Business Name Changing?
Google does allow you to change the business name on your Google Business Profile. That means if you buy a business and change the name, you can update the Google Business Profile and rebrand the page. Typically if the reviews are good and the page ranks well, this may not be a bad idea. A prime example would be a gift shop–if the gift shop is operating in the same location, selling the same items and even keeping the same employees, then the photos, reviews and metrics still apply to the new brand owner even if the name changes.
There are instances where starting a brand new Google Business Profile may seem easier and more efficient–for example, if a business sale takes place and the menu is completely different. The photos associated with the old business would conflict with the new business branding, therefore creating a new Google Business Profile should be considered. It is, however, possible to rebrand if you decide to keep the original Google Business Profile. The following list would need to be reviewed and updated:
Review the category and ensure that the proper primary and secondary category remain the best options. The old owners may not have been aware of the manynew categories that Google has added.
Update the Business description
Optimize Service areas for service area businesses
Review dining options
Review Service options
Food ordering options
To take advantage of more tips on How to Optimize a Google Business Profile,click here.
Google Links to Many Third Party Sites on Your Profile
Google allows many third parties to link to your Google Business Profile. Consider the following:
Third party food ordering app
Reviews from the Web
Reserve a Table button
Order Online button
With all the aforementioned considerations, you may be thinking, “Why would I use this old profile? I should mark this closed and start a new one!” Most third party links are generated automatically with no action needed by the owner. It may take a few days for UberEATS, DoorDash, OpenTable and other relevant sites to link up, but they eventually do. It is important to note that“You can’t edit or remove third-party links in Business Profile directly.”
6 Critical Steps to Rebranding Your Google Business Profile That Ranks Really Well
In the following example, I will explain step by step all the updates Reputation Arm made for a client that needed to rebrand a restaurant on their Google Business Profile, and beyond. The restaurant changed the business name, menu, and did a full remodel. After carefully examining the Google profile and the ranking factors, the team decided to try and rebrand the Google Business Profile page entirely. The following steps were taken:
Created a new website. According to best practices, the website includes social links and aGoogle Maps marker.
Claimed the Google Profile, Yelp page, TripAdvisor business listing, and Restaurant Guru profile
This 3rd step takes considerable effort but is necessary regardless of whether you’re rebranding the Google Business Profile or creating a new one. Many customers may not know that the restaurant changed names initially or may search the business address. When that happens, the old listings related to the old restaurant name will appear in search results mixed in with the new restaurant name. This can cause much confusion.
Additional steps include:
Edit the Menu associated with the Google Business Profile.
Remove the editorial summary.
Remove all photos associated with the old menu that were left by reviewers.
Claiming and Rebranding Business Listings is Necessary
Yelp does not allow a business to rebrand a page, and therefore requires closing out the old business page and creating a new one. For assistance, contactYelp at 1-877-767-9357. In our experience, it has been interesting to note that when old owners carry an account balance, their new business page will not be approved until the bill of sale is shown to Yelp. Yelp will not approve the listing of two businesses at the same address.
TripAdvisor does not allow a business to rebrand a page–a new listing must be created. It is important for the business to make sure that the old listing is reported closed. You can do this by contacting email@example.com. For more information about removing a business from TripAdvisor,click here.
We are sorry for the delayed reply. In order to save the popularity of your page we have found another solution to your case as follows:
– The page will be renamed to “new name” (the new name will be displayed within a few days).
– Review platforms with the previous name will be removed from your RG page shortly. If you have new pages on those platforms, please send us links and we will add them to your profile and will recalculate ratings accordingly.
Editing the Menu Associated with a Google Business Profile
Within a Google Business Profile you’ll find an “Edit Menu” button that allows you to link to 3rd party menu pages.
In our specific case, the menu was linked toSinglePlatform, a TripAdvisor Company. We had no way of accessing this menu and had to contact support to remove the menu from the Google Business Profile.
In order to update or remove your menu information, please contact SinglePlatform directly:
Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns!
Removing the Editorial Summary from a Google Business Profile
After changing the menu and vibe of this restaurant, the Google editorial summary was no longer applicable. Unlike business descriptions, editorial summaries cannot be edited by a business owner. To learn more,click here. We were able tocontact support to have the editorial summary removed.
Removing Old Menu Photos Left By Reviewers
SAY WHAT? Does Google do that? In our case, and I will admit it was the first time we attempted such a daunting task, but Google removed over 900 photos from our client’s Google Business Profile. We achieved this by contactingsupport and submitting an excel file containing the over 900 map URLs for each reviewer-uploaded image to be eliminated. At the conclusion of the process, all reviews were left intact, with only the old menu photos removed.
Google Business Profile MythBusters
You may be wondering: did all these edits affect the Google search impressions? Not a single one of these edits affected the way the Google Business Profile ranked. There were some seasonal drops, but nothing dramatic that would lead one to believe that the edits made would affect the overall ranking. It is important to note that the search ranking increased when we added “Sushi” in the name for the new business. Our rebranding exercise shows clear evidence of the following:
Removing photos from a Google Profile does not affect your local ranking.
Removing a menu from a Google Profile does not affect your local ranking.
Removing a Google editorial from a Google Profile does not affect your local ranking.
If you would like help in rebranding your Google Business Profile or are looking for experts to help with your local citation management, contact us.
Conflicting messages abound with regards to how reviews impact your local search rankings. Google review count and the rate at which a business generates new reviews can vary from industry to industry. There are many assumptions and myths regarding reviews:
Does the number of Google reviews impact your rankings?
Does the text of a Google review impact your rankings?
Does the review recency impact your rankings?
The truth is, we don’t really know but we do have case studies to help prove that our assumptions are relevant. For more information on why reviews matter on your Google Business Profile visit The Ultimate Guide to Google Business Profiles.
Does the Number of Google Reviews Impact Your Local Search Rankings?
For many years now we have been led to believe that the more reviews you have, the better your ranking should be. I see that many of our clients have accumulated a large number of reviews but are somehow getting outranked by competitors with less reviews. I began to wonder if their Google reviews were really as significant as I was led to believe. Joy Hawkins from Sterling SKY lays out a nice case study which illustrates how jumping from 3 reviews to 16 helped to increase the business local ranking significantly. However, after the business received 31 reviews, the ranking boost was not as significant.
While the results are not nearly as significant when exceeding 10 reviews, I do find that continuing to generate more reviews still helped edge this business up a few more notches–maybe not at the rate one would want, yet with visible improvement. It is important to also recognize that a business with 300 reviews can be outranked by a business with 50 reviews. This can lead us to conclude that the number of reviews does not help you outrank your competitors; it’s just one piece of our SEO puzzle.
Does the Text of a Review Impact Your Local Search Rankings?
Joy Hawkins from Sterling SKY did acase study in which she found that the text within a Google review did not affect Map Pack Rankings. In the image below, you can see that the search term “Christmas trees” did not improve. The business accumulated six new reviews over a period of a few months. They made sure that the review contained the word “Christmas trees,” but the results showed no significant ranking increase.
This blog actually led many local SEO experts to question the legitimacy of the study. However, it’s important to remember that Google’s algorithms change and what may appear to have significant results one year or month may not be the same the following year or month. It is also important to remember that there are hundreds of other factors that may not be considered. So, while the study did not show significant results in keywords within the review for ranking, we shall see over time what other experts conclude. Joy did a nice job proving that correlation does not indicate causation. She was able to demonstrate that when tested, the review text did not improve this business’ ranking.
Does Review Recency Impact Your Local Search Rankings?
36% use star rating as the basis for deciding between local businesses.
39% use the most recent filter when looking at reviews
68% trust what customers say about a business over what a business says about itself.
Interestingly, 39% of users filter the most recently posted items when looking at reviews. If that is truly the case, then it would be wise for Google to rank a business that consistently generates new reviews. However, it is important to recognize that recency is not the same as quantity. So, while Google wants businesses to consistently generate new reviews, it’s not the volume that matters. Every industry is different and the best way to determine how often you should generate new reviews is by looking at your competitors.
Joy Hawkins did another study onreview recency where she found that rankings improved as the business went from no reviews or a period of time in which the reviews went stale, to steadily generating new reviews.
This finding is very significant as you can see from the image Sterling SKY shared.
The Key Takeaway!
Businesses need to focus on generating new reviews in the most organic way possible. The best way to do that is to engage the help of a platform like Reputation Arm that allows you to consistently ask your customers for new reviews. Reviews matter and are relevant for your local search rankings, but more importantly for building trust with your customers. Google searches are looking at your reviews and in order for your business to successfully convert a new customer, they need to showcase themselves through the reviews. As Moz helpfully points out in their article, 98% of people read reviews. If your business is lacking in reviews, then chances are you are not capturing as much business as you could.
Using tools like theReputation Arm dashboard allows you to organically dispatch review requests to all your customers. Our dashboard allows you to integrate your system’s API so that we can set up an automated review campaign that will have your business generating new reviews organically with no effort on your part.Contact us today for a free demo.
In this post, we’ll be providing an all-encompassing guide to creating, claiming, and optimizing your Google Business Profile. Google Business Profile is a free tool that enables users to publish personalized, authorized information about their business online, and has essentially become the most critical ranking factor for Local SEO. A Business Profile is one of the first things that users come across when searching for a company or service on Google Search or Google Maps, making it essential to have your business listed, verified, and managed appropriately.
If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to all things Google Business Profiles, look no further–you’re not alone. Many local businesses are realizing the importance of maintaining a well-optimized profile, and for good reason. According to statistics compiled by The Media Captain, “Over half of Google Business Profileinteractions produce website visits.” Google interactions include calls, driving directions, messages, bookings, and website clicks.
Have you recently used online search? 83% of shoppers in the U.S. say they’ve used online search before visiting a store. “Near me” searches are increasing across almost every category according to thinkwithgoogle.com. With the growing number of consumer searches, it is more important than ever to focus your marketing efforts on your Google Business Profile.
If you own a local business or are a local service-based business, you can benefit from our Ultimate Guide to Google Business Profiles. There are nearly 4,000 Google Business Profile categories ranging from automotive, grocery, restaurant, banks, lawyers, plumbers, swimming schools, and, well–many, many more.
The History Of Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, launched as Google Local in March of 2004. It first operated as a digital replacement for the Yellow Pages but has since evolved into Google Business Profile. Today, the platform allows business owners to create their business profiles and list their business on Google, which is then displayed in Google Search and Google Maps. Its interface was designed to make it easier for local businesses as well as brands to be found in Google search results. A user must have a Google account to create or access their Google Business Profile. Review the completetimeline of Google Business profiles from 2004 to 2022.
How To Add Or Claim A Google Business Profile
You must have a Google account to create or claim your Google Profile. A Google Account gives you access to many Google Products such as Google Drive, Google Chat, Google Groups, Calendar, Forms… On your computer, sign into yourGoogle Maps account.
Enter the address of your business in the search bar within Google Maps, and from there, click Add your business.
You can also click the menu on the top left, and from there, click Add your business.
Google will take you through on-screen instructions to complete your Business Profile.
If your business is already on Google Maps and you want to claim the listing, follow these steps:
Click the business name and verify it is the correct one.
Locate the Claim this business link by your verified business name.
The next step requires averification option. The two most common options are postcard by mail or by phone.
If you cannot find a Claim this business or Own this business link on the Business Profile, then it’s possible that you already manage the business. If you do not have ownership but still do not see the links, go tobusiness.google.com/add. Follow the steps there to find the business. If one exists that matches your name and address, the option to request access will be present.
If you verify your website URL with Google Search Console, you may get instant verification. In addition, if your business manages 10 or more profiles for locations of the same business, that business may request to activate abulk verification capability from Google.
What Do I Do If My Google Business Postcard Never Arrives?
I have found that it’s not uncommon for your requested postcard not to arrive from Google on the first attempt. If you do not receive your postcard within fourteen days, you should take the following steps:
Make sure you notify the post office of your address change.
Make sure your new address is registered with the post office.
Request a postcard again.
Do not be surprised if you need to request the card more than once. However, Google states that if you edit your business name, address, or category, or request a new postcard, the old verification code that may be in the mail will no longer be valid. For more information on verifying your business by postcard, clickhere.
Not all accounts have the option to verify by phone. If you don’t see the option for phone verification, then it is not available and you must verify your business by postcard.
How To Optimize A Google Business Profile
Optimizing your Google Business Profile is a critical step after claiming or creating your Google Business Profile. Providing details such as services, products, and company descriptions will help you to getmaximum results with Google. Google tells its users that in order to improve your local ranking on Google, you need to claim and update your business information regularly.
Enter complete data. This includes: address, phone number, category, attributes, and your business description.
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Updating these pieces of information will maximize how often users find and engage with your business in local search results. At minimum, a business owner should post once a week and should add photos regularly. Google encourages its users toshare photos: “businesses with photos are more likely to receive requests for driving directions to their location, as well as clicks through their websites, than businesses that don’t have photos.”
How Google Determines Local Ranking
Every business owner will ask themselves at one point,How is Google determining my local ranking? The first thing Google primarily looks for in local search results is relevance. “Relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for.” If a search term is “Mediterranean restaurant near me” and your Google Business Profile features the primary category, “Mediterranean restaurant”, your business listing is more likely to appear in the search results.
Of course, the next thing Google looks for is distance. “Distance considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.” Google picks up our location from real-time signals, like an IP address or a device’s geolocation. They also track your past activity to better customize your search experiences.
The third factor isprominence. Prominence refers to how well your brand or business is known. That’s why some businesses adapt to creating local listings, otherwise known as citations. Citations help tell Google how prominent you are.
If you are looking for help in becoming more relevant and prominent with Google, Reputation Arm is ready to help. Contact us now orBook a demo at no charge.
How Do I Choose The Best Category For My Google Business Profile?
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, your category is relevant to Google. It’s the best way for Google to match your business with a user’ssearch intent. Always select the most specific category that best matches your business. For example, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you shouldn’t choose “Lawyer” as your primary category. Instead, you should choose “Personal Injury Lawyer”, with “Lawyer” optionally as a secondary category. Instead of “Salon” choose “Nail Salon”; instead of “Restaurant”, choose “Pizza Restaurant”. If the specific category you desire isn’t available, then you must choose a more general category. This doesn’t mean that that category doesn’t accurately describe your business–it’s just that Google doesn’t allow users to create their own categories.
What if your business can fall into many categories? Google provides some scenario guidelines to help usersdetermine how to select the best category for their business. Google advises its users to focus on the concept of “this business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a.” The idea is not to choose categories based on all the products you sell or feature. Although a grocery store sells many products, it shouldn’t be categorized as an “Ice Cream Shop”, “Spice Shop”, “Cookie Shop” or “Bake Shop”. You get the point!
Simply click Edit Profile while logged into your Google account. From there, you should see the option to edit your category and business name, description, phone, website, menu link, service area, hours, and more.
If possible, you should add up to 3 categories. It has been said that anything more than the top three categories are irrelevant. In this scenario, more is not better. You do not want to risk confusing Google and initiating a negative effect on your local search results.
Guidelines To Maintaining A Service-Area Business With Google Business Profile
A service-area business is a business that serves its customers at the customer’s residence or business. Examples of service-area businesses are plumbers, landscapers, pest control companies, locksmiths, painters, roofers, contractors, etc. Typically, customers aren’t visiting these types of businesses at a fixed business location, so Google requires that these businesses hide the address they work out of and enter the service area that they are willing to travel to, or work within. If a business serves customers at its business address and wants to set a service area, Google requires that the business location be staffed and able to receive visiting customers during the stated hours.
The number one reason why a service-area business gets suspended is for not following the guidelines highlighted below:
If you do serve customers at your business address and also have a service area, then you can enter your address and service area.
If you don’t serve customers at your business address, you must clear the address field and only enter your service area.
Service-area businesses that run out of their homes should not list their address.
If a service-area business has several locations with staff at each location, they are eligible for one profile per each location. However, Google sets service area boundaries for your profile. The overall service area should not extend more than 2 hours of driving time from the business address. Specify your service area by city, postal code, or another type of area.
Google looks at the information you provide and the information provided by other sources to determine how best to display your business address. For this reason, many companies may find that they have been operating their Google Business Profile for years with no issues but then suddenly, their profile has been suspended.
If a business doesn’t properly set up their profile according to Google’sguidelines, they risk getting suspended.
Rental properties, vacation homes, vacant apartments, lead generation companies, and any business that does not own or lease isineligible from creating a Google Business Profile.
Why Is My Google Business Profile Suspended?
We hear it all the time: “My Google Business Profile was suspended and I have no idea why!” Google becomes more and more sophisticated year over year, and that means that your Business Profile needs to be accurate and consistent with other sources. There are many reasons why a Google Business Profile gets suspended:
You changed your address on your Google Business Profile.
You updated your category, name, website or phone number.
You are a service-area business with a visible address, which Google has now picked up on.
Google does not inform a user as to why their profile was suspended. It is up to the business to accurately represent information in their Business Profile and to make sure they adhere to theGoogle guidelines.
My Google Business Profile Was Hijacked by a Third Party
Google allows many third party apps and agencies to manage business information on a Google Business Profile. By adding managers to your profile, you are allowing the agency or third party to manage your profile on your behalf. However, be aware of scams where unethical individuals hit the “claim this business” link on your profile. This generates an email request to gain control over the listing. Unwittingly ranting access to those you don’t know or trust can be very dangerous and can pose some serious problems. If your Google Business Profile has been hijacked, you can report ithere.
If you are a pizza delivery business and your order online links have been crowded out by other third parties like GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates, Slice, etc., you are not alone. In order to take back control of your ordering process,use this form to completely opt out of Food Ordering with Google.
Understanding Google Business Profile Posts
Google Posts were first introduced by Google in 2017. Since then, there have been many updates as to how they are populated, who sees them, and for how long they are visible to the end users. Whether you are a multi-location business or have a single location, you can benefit from posting on your Google Business Profile. Google allows three post types:
To create a post, simply make sure you are logged in to your Google account and clickyour Business Profile. You can also search for “my business” and it should appear in the search results. Select “Add update” and choose the type of post you wish to share.
Your post can have one of three post statuses: Live, Pending, and Not Approved. Be sure to follow Google’sposts content policy, for many users are finding that their posts are getting rejected. For more information on whyyour post has been removed from Google, visit our blog. We share some helpful points to help you avoid post rejection.
Why Reviews Matter On Your Google Business Profile
Did you know that the quality and quantity of reviews within your Google Business Profile impact one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO? There are many factors involved when determining your business search ranking, but one thing we do know is that reviews can be a strong signal to search engines. Besides the information provided on your Google Business Profile, reviews are the second strongest factor within thelocal ranking algorithm.
There are many factors to consider when focusing on your reviews. According tomoz, the following impact search rankings.
Recency – Are your reviews recent, or old and outdated?
Velocity – How often are you collecting new reviews?
Diversity – Do you feature reviews on your social platforms and other relevant sources?
Authority – Is the reviewer a local guide? Some speculate that reviewers that are considered “professional reviewers” carry more weight than other users.
Format – The content in the review matters and is typically more relevant than non-text reviews. Reviews carry keywords that Google recognizes as justifications.
Take a look at the image below that demonstrates how Google usesreview justifications to highlight a business.
Google uses your reviews in your local SEO ranking.
Consumers rely on Google reviews.
Google reviews correlate with higher sales.
Reviews build consumer trust.
Your competitors are paying attention to reviews.
How Do I Generate More Reviews For My Google Business Profile?
Now that we understand how reviews can significantly impact our local search results, let’s discuss how we can work on generating new reviews. There are a number of recommended practices to adopt to help your business generate new reviews.
Ask customers directly for a Google review.
Send out an email campaign with a link to review your business.
Send out a text campaign with a link to review your business.
Add a review link to your website.
Add a review link to your email signature.
Don’t be afraid to send out multiple requests.
Make generating Google reviews a priority. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have enough reviews–you can never get enough reviews for your business. The more reviews you accrue, the more significant you appear to Google and other search engines. Reputation Arm offers a robustReputation Management dashboard that helps businesses manage reviews on multiple review sites. Our dashboard not only imports all reviews for your business, but allows you to reply, store response templates, review analytics, solicit reviews by text and email, and provide automated reports. To learn more,book a free demo now.
Why Do I Need To Respond To My Google Reviews?
While generating reviews is important for your business, responding to them is just as significant. Not only does responding to a review help build loyalty between the business and the reviewer, it also shows other customers who are reading your review responses that you care. Google encourages all businesses to respond to reviews. If you follow suit, this will show Google that you are an active business owner. Not sure how to respond to a negative review? Check out our blog,10 Effective Review Templates to Help You Respond to Negative Reviews.
Stand out against your competitors by responding to positive and negative reviews. Google states: “According to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7x more trustworthy than businesses who don’t (76% vs. 46%)”.
It is important to keep in mind that all responses are public, so exercise professionalism and review some of these helpful tips.
Some Thoughtful And Easy Tips For Review Replies:
Build Relationships With Customers
Be polite and avoid getting too personal.
Keep it short and sweet.
Always thank the reviewer.
Avoid being a salesperson, but do share new products or events.
Respond in a timely manner.
Best Practices For Negative Review Responses
Do not attack your reviewer personally or share data about them.
Move the conversation offline by offering to talk it over.
Don’t rush to respond–investigate the reason behind the negative review.
Be honest and courteous.
Show compassion and empathy. If appropriate, apologize.
Respond in a timely manner.
Why Are My Reviews Not Showing Up On My Google Business Profile?
As a Product Google Expert for Google My Business, our team has seen many active business owners express concerns over authentic reviews not displaying on their Google Business Profile. We know how discouraging this can be, especially for newer businesses hoping to gain visibility within local search through their Google reviews. Unfortunately, since March of 2022 there has been a significant increase in reviews not appearing on Google Business Profiles.
How Do I Remove A Fake Review From My Google Business Profile?
If you feel that you are a victim of a fake review, Google has an appeal process for you to follow. You can submit an appeal by using the followinglink. Through this workflow process, you’ll be able to select the location and then review eligible reviews you can flag. Once you find the review, you can select the “Report” button which then takes you to the following page.
Be sure to pick the appropriate option. Once submitted, Google will send you an email stating that your removal request is being assessed. It could take up to 3 business days and you should receive a follow up email. If you do not receive a follow up email, use the samelink to check the status of a review you recently reported. I have found that the status can display “decision pending” for days and weeks. Once a decision is made, you’ll have one opportunity to appeal the decision. Make sure to include relevant data or photos to help back up your claim.
Fake review or not, it’s always best practice to respond to all reviews. This way, if Google doesn’t remove the review, other customers can see from your response that the review may be fake or is not relevant to your business. Always remember to be courteous and avoid being defensive. The response is meant to address other customers and not so much the reviewer itself.
We hope you enjoyed our Ultimate Guide to Google Business Profile. Check back with us often as we will regularly update this page with all things Google Business Profile. Remember that Google rewards active business owners, so consistently visit your Google Business Profile page and review your NAPs, categories, services, and other data often. Post often and upload new photos as well as reply to all your reviews–consistency is key to winning the local SEO battle.
If you don’t have the time to manage your Google Business Profile, or would like to discuss our amazing review management dashboard,reach out to us. Our team of experts would love to hear from you.
As a Google Product Expert for Google Business Profiles, the main issue I have seen recently is authentic customer reviews not showing up for the business. This can be extremally frustrating for a business who values their reviews and understands how important it is to build their Google reviews. Reviews have a significant impact on branding and local SEO. With that in mind capturing all reviews is important to the business and missing even one can be burdensome to say the least.
Missing and Delayed Reviews
There are several reasons why a business is missing a Google review. The following article from Google will help you understand missing and delayed reviews. Google claims that most reviews are removed because they violate policy like spam, or inappropriate content. For a better understanding on what Google deems prohibited and restricted content click here. Like all things, Google isn’t perfect and they rely on their algorithms to help detect fake reviews.
Google’s goal is to provide user-generated content (“UGC”) to enhance user experience. They go to great lengths to ensure content published by users is helpful and authentic. Google states, “Deliberately fake content, copied or stolen photos, off-topic reviews, defamatory language, personal attacks, and unnecessary or incorrect content are all in violation of our policy.” For more information on the topic and to understand Google’s machine-learning algorithms read their Maps user-generated content policy.
Google uses a moderating system to make sure reviews are not violating any policies. That does not mean that a human is not factored into the moderation of reviews. Google invests in both tools and people to moderate reviews. However, the machine is the first line of defense.
Does the content contain offensive or off-topic content?
Does the Google account that left the review contain a history of suspicious behavior?
Does the business suddenly have a increase in reviews over a short period of time?
Has the business had negative press either on the news or social that would motivate fake reviews to be left?
If you feel that you are the victim of fake or fraudulent reviews, you can report them here.
What To Do if Your Authentic Reviews Were Flagged by Google’s Algorithm
Get screenshots of the review from your customers
Provide Your Business Name and link to your Google Business Profile
Google provides its users with a group of Google Product Experts, like myself that can help frustrated users escalate missing reviews and suspension issues. A silver product expert and higher can escalate your review if you provide the above information for them. You can also try escalating your issue with Google support, https://support.google.com/business/gethelp. It could take up to three weeks to resolve your issue.
7 Factors to Consider When You are Missing Google Reviews
There have been a significant amount of Google Reviews that disappeared in 2021, below are some reasons why…
There are known issues with reviews not getting published on older mobile phone and operating systems.
Your customers just created a new Gmail account to leave you a review. Google’s algorithm can pick this up as a fake review. Make sure they post their photos on their profile as well as leave reviews for other businesses. Fake profiles typically don’t contain a photo, name or other information. If you are receiving multiple reviews from empty Gmail accounts, this is a trigger that the reviews were created by bots and are fake or paid.
Get reviews on your Yelp and FB accounts. If you have 0 reviews on other platforms and several on Google this may look suspicious.
Do not incentivize your customers to leave reviews.
Reviews cannot be left by an employee.
At Reputation Arm we help manage our clients reviews, if your business is struggling to get their reviews posted or you feel that you have other underlying issues that have not been solved, reach out to us for help.
As people are searching Google, they now have the option to message / chat with the business. The days of one-way communication are no longer the norm. For some businesses, this can be a great tool that they enable, but for others, it can be another pain point. Text messaging interactions not only saves time but it’s straightforward making life easier for the business and the consumer. Research shows that 9 out of 10 consumers would like to communicate with businesses by text messaging.
How to get started with Messages on your Google Business Profile
Login to your Google Business Profile and select Messages on the right-hand menu bar.
On the top right corner there is a Turn on messaging option, once selected a pop up will confirm you have turned on messaging.
Select the settings icon to activate send read receipts.
All messages appear by customer allowing you to have multiple messages shown.
Customers can get in touch with you in real-time from your Business Profile on Google or Google Maps at any time of day.
How Google Business Messaging app works
Once you turn on the messaging, a “Chat” button will appear on your Business Profile enabling searchers to message you at any time. Messages will appear in your Business Profile on Google and all users are able to respond to messages. Make sure you turn on notifications for your messages to ensure that you can respond in a timely manner. Automated welcome messages are available but can only be set up within the Google Maps app at this time.
All messages are saved within the Business Profile. If deleted, it will be deleted for all users and the business will no longer have access to them. However, the customer will still have access to the message on their device. Businesses can export and download messages to keep for records or use for other purposes.
Receiving Spam Messages on Your Google Business Profile
Some industries are more prone to receiving spam messages on their Google Business Profile. If you have received what appears to be a spam message on your profile, make sure to mark it as spam. When a message is marked as spam, Google will not factor in your response time for that message. To mark a message as spam, go to the message area in your Google Business Profile. Select the message you believe is spam and hit the ! icon next to the delete icon on the top right. Once you select the ! icon, a pop up message appears prompting you to check a box that reads “Report as spam”. Select “Block” and the user will no longer be able to message you.
Your Response Time to Chat Messages on Google
It’s important that a business respond to all messages quickly on their Google Business profile to build a better experience for the customer. Google requires that a business reply to messages within 24 hours after the message has been received. If Google finds that you are not replying to messages within a 24-hour time frame, they may deactivate the chat feature for your business.
How to Turn Google’s Business Message Read Receipts On or Off
All businesses should carefully consider whether they want to keep read receipts on or off. If your response time is within 10 minutes and you have a dedicated user assigned to responding to messages, this feature may suit you well. However, if you are testing out the messaging app for the first time on your business you may want to make sure this feature is turned off. Showing that you read a message and delaying a response may reflect negatively on your business. Read receipts can be turned off in the message setting within your Google Business Profile or directly on the Google Maps app.
Should I use Google’s Business Messaging App to Chat with My Customers?
Figuring out how, who and what should be done isn’t always easy. There is no right or wrong answer to using the Google Messaging option. A business may need to test out the messaging for a month. Make sure you don’t forget to monitor your messages. After a few messages have been received, analyze the messages. Determine if they were successful and if it has the outcome desired. Only you can determine the return on investment of messaging. Were your monitoring efforts and responding time worthwhile? For more information or for help on setting up your message app in Google, contact Reputation Arm.