The Google Places Purgatory and How to Get Out of It

Google Places Active No Impressions

Do You Have An Active Google Places Dashboard With No Data Associated With It?

In the last month there were many cases of disappearance of Google Places analytics data and complete listings from the organic search results while the listings’ statuses were still showing “Active”.

This anomaly was spotted by Mike Blumenthal back in 2010 for the first time. It appears that it is some kind of peculiar punishment implemented by Google manually on accounts that have not confined to the Google Places Quality Guidelines for a long period of time + did this intentionally in order to gain advantage in the search results.

The question that naturally comes up – how do I get back to normal after being punished in such a way. The regular answer – you simply cannot. Google does not provide an option to request review and reactivation as with a suspended account sometimes. Moreover, you are not even notified that such a penalty occurred. Unless you notice it (and the signs are not exactly dazzlingly visible), you may keep thinking your account is alive and fine. However, the major reason why getting a “purgatorized” account back to normal is impossible tough, is that this punishment is being enforced manually, and this is rarely done by mistake.

There is, as always, light in the end of the tunnel, and again this light comes from Vanessa Schneider.

She proposes the following:

“Listing not live on Maps anymore, or, it is live and it’s not owner-verified? Use this contact form and …

Select: I have verified > Yes > My listing no longer appears on Google Maps. > Fill out form, hit Submit Listing live on Maps, and owner-verified?

Use this contact form and … Select: Someone else has verified the listing > Fill out form, hit Submit” She also notes: “I cannot guarantee they will reinstate your account.

And this is a very important note. Because as mentioned above, if your account has been punished in such a way, there should be some good reason for that. You might try your luck, of course, and as the case will be looked through once again by another moderator, this gives you the right to plead “not guilty”, or mistake by “ignorance” rather than “premeditated”.

I’d suggest that you write something like this in the form provided after you pass through the steps proposed by Vanessa:

Dear Google Moderator Team, My account has been banned for unknown reasons a few days (weeks) ago. I just realized that, as there was no message notifying me about this punishment, nor any explanation to why my account was punished. Whatever the reason, I want to assure you that I haven’t done this deliberately, and I would really appreciate it if you reinstate my account so that I could fix any mistakes I might have done. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Best regards, [Name]

I’d suggest you use that only if you REALLY haven’t done the mistakes deliberately. Otherwise, you might be losing your time. It’s pretty obvious when black hat techniques were purposefully used, and as the Google mods check thousands of listings daily, it would be hard to bamboozle them.

If you manage to get your account reactivated after following these steps, please, let us know your experience in the comment section below.


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18 Responses to “The Google Places Purgatory and How to Get Out of It”

  1. Thanks for posting this Matt.

    A few cases I’ve been working on with forum users or consulting clients are not spammy at all, but it’s something buggy going on. Engineers are looking into it. V mentions bugginess in her reply to the 1st user in that thread.

    So if you are sure your account is squeaky clean, follow Vanessa’s advice above and get support to look into it. Could be a bug or a false positive.

  2. Thanks Linda,

    We did get one account approved, most of the data came back. Missing reviews still and all the photos are still missing from listing. Maybe on next GP update it’ll all come back. But not entirely gone. All analytics came back too, so it’s not deleted from the cluster. GP obviously stores everything.

  3. Personally I found that it’s quicker/easier to just set up the listing in a brand new Places account than it is to try and get Google to fix it. I’ve had a couple accounts do this and the listings don’t violate any guidelines. We waited a few weeks for Google to fix one of them but then Google did an update in that time and we lost control over the listing (and it dropped in ranking).

  4. Yes sometimes that is true. I usually always try to fix it first before starting over. Support has gotten a lot better in the last 6 months with Google Places.

  5. Hi Matthew,

    My business offers two services for which I have separate websites in fact I should say separate domains. We have sold many franchisees. I have set up a single Google places account for my business which includes listings of the franchisees as well. For each franchisee I have set up two listings in Google Places (with same physical address (business location)) but with complete different data i.e. category, website. A few days back all the listings were appearing on Google Maps but today I saw that none of the listings are appearing live on Google despite the Active status in Google Places Dashboard.

  6. @Rose, yeah it sounds like you might had your account tapped. I’ll email you.

  7. Sorry, I know I’m a bit late to pop onto this thread, but I’m getting a bit desperate.
    My places listing disappeared at the start of June and after months of emailing google they came back stating I had committed a quality violation by not having my phone number listed on my blog page. It was however on my web page and of course on my places listing. They also said this

    “your listing has been affected by a technical issue we’ve recently experienced. We’ve been experiencing technical issues with service area businesses causing them not to display on Google Maps. We have identified the cause of these listings not showing and are working on establishing a pathway to revive dropped listings which meet our quality guidelines, such as yours. We don’t have a timeline which we can give for this, but your submission helps us keep track of this problem and we will be reviewing your listing once the fix is fully established. Thank you so much for your patience.”

    I got this email over a month ago

    Do I just create a new listing? Will it even show up?
    Hope someone might be able to help Thanks – Cath

  8. @Cath Did you try emailing them again yet? I will email you.

  9. I run a mobile locksmith company in south Florida. I had my Places account taken down, I contacted support and included the link to my business from (website that proves businesses are registered and licensed in Florida.) Google put the listing back up, but only for a week. Then it was taken down and into “purgatory”. THEN I started a Google+ account, from the same email that I had made the Places account from -different from this email addy that I am using here. Once I received the verification PIN for the Google+ page, I entered it and it was immediately suspended. I am absolutely horrified by this. I greatly rely on my Adwords and my Places for emergency lockout service business. My company is super small as it is, and I might have to close it because I can’t afford a store front yet or more advertising in other marketing areas. I feel like I’ve been falsely targeted.

  10. Christin, so sorry to hear your story. This is not uncommon to happen to SMB’s (especially in the Lock Smith niche). You might need to start a new account with a new address and phone (at least new phone for sure). I’ll email you and see if there is a way to salvage a the listing. Usually if it’s been blacklisted, then that is it. It’s out. Now it’s not always clear on what they blacklist in the GP: domain, number/address or even just business name. My guess it’s the phone and the actual account.

  11. Our SEO company has suggested we simply put up another GP page. I’m afraid that’s a short term solution with, as explained below, other factors that my result in longer term and deeper problems. Any insight or advice would be appreciated.

    I’m leery of this because we’re a locksmith and commercial security company. We’ve been around since 1996 and at the same commercial address for years, but I know G hasn’t been kind to the category. Add to this the fact that we just bought a building and move there in two months and we’re worried that G will see us as flighty and do more than randomly “no longer support” our location.

    We’d made no changes to our GP page. Our GP page had evaporated previously but we think it was due to some discovered black hat SEO by the previously contracted company. That said, we terminated our business with that company, started over with a new website (same URL) and all was good and better with the new SEO company helping out. Suddenly – GP – gone and a fair amount of business with it.

    We filled out the GP help form and got back the G auto-reply of –

    Thank you for contacting Google. We may follow up if we need further
    information. Also, feel free to respond to this email to clarify
    anything or give us additional information.

    Otherwise, we appreciate your patience while our team reviews and
    responds to inquiries in the order they are received.

    Once we’re finished investigating, someone from our team will get back
    toyou with actions we’ve taken and instructions for next steps.

    The Google Team

    Thanks Matthew for any help.

  12. @Advanced Lock & Security, I feel you pain. You are in an industry where GP has targeted greatly due to spammers and there has been a ton of collateral damage to real legitimate businesses like yours. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution for you. If you are starting at a new location, then yes you can put a new GP page and it should be fine. If you follow all the appropriate rules and claim the listing with your domain email, you should not get flagged. Sometimes starting with fresh account helps, if you can do it. Note, if the phone got blacklisted then you might be outta luck. You’ll need to get a new phone # and have the old forward to the new one. If you want me to look at your specific situation I can, just email me. Good luck!

  13. Hi, ive been having problem with google place listing. I have my listing mixed with someone else’s phone number and the listing is not appearing on my dash board. How do I deal with this. I’ve complained to google but they haven’t got back to me.

  14. @Mazed – what industry are you in…? This common problem with a lot professionals who share the same office space. Is that your situation..?

  15. Matthew,
    I can relate to the post from Cathi above. I had a top rated Places business page for my watersports business with great reviews, photos, videos and was actually in compliance when it was suddenly dropped one day. I had the “service area” selected and “hide my address”. The google team reverified my listing back in late May afetr this occurred and it still has not been reactivated. I contact them every two weeks and am told the same thing. “be patient” It was not my fault- they had a glitch and erased service area businesses and are trying to recover the dropped businesses. I have been down for 5 months with no resolution. I can log in and view my places page / dashboard- the content is there and I show up on google maps. I also cant merge into the new Local + search until this is fixed. Do you have any details on this problem and when Google may have a fix. Thanks

  16. @MSV, I feel your pain. I have no updates on GP taking care of this. If I was in your shoes I’d start fresh. Get going with a listing and start building it out.

  17. I have a taxi business in Florida, and we were on top of google places for almost a year. Suddenly, we were gone! I went into my google account and discovered that my listing says “being reviewed”. It has remained in that status for over 6 months.

  18. @Gary you may need to start over if it’s been that long with a new account. If you have live listings you should still be able to claim them. Are you listing gone or still live…?

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