Some of you may be wondering, “What is Google My Business?” If you’ve ever looked up a business or local service, you’ve probably seen local rankings of nearby businesses, a map showing them with reviews, contact methods, and possibly a prominently featured business on the sidebar of your search results. This is Google My Business, or local search, where companies can put on their best face, and attempt to vie for your business in the Google Local Search results.
In all of Google’s infinite wisdom, Google My Business has overlooked a major element of their foreign support teams. What did Google overlook you might ask? Well, not all websites allow all countries to access their website.
We specifically started blocking certain countries after watching thousands of foreign malicious users attempt to breach out site from the same countries on a regular basis and while we have no ill-will against these countries, it doesn’t make sense for us to work with certain countries. Our logic for blocking them outside of security included many reasons like language barriers, inappropriate target markets, travel cost, and of course losing the benefits of working with a local development team. By using an application firewall to blocking a hundred or so countries, we nearly eliminated our spam and thwarted attacker volume significantly. We felt better knowing our site had little to no malicious attempts at compromise throughout each night.
However, this led to one major unfortunate event. Google My Business, without as much as an email, disabled our top ranking business listing; essentially, removing our brand from all of Orlando, Winter Garden, Clermont, etc. local search results. This also adversely effected our organic search rankings as our traffic slowed down. It took over 13 emails, a month, and multiple hoops to jump through (like sending business licenses, EIN, etc.) for the support team to eventually email me that, “As per our investigation, we found that the website of your business is not working so we would suggest you to either remove the website or update a working website.” In actuality the website worked perfectly as intended; however, the support agent(s) didn’t understand that a business might purposefully block access to another country.
Weirdly, Google My Business support team didn’t seem to know why our account was disabled, but they insisted our website didn’t work and it seemed to be the only thing they could come up with. As this occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they asked if we were actively taking office visits, we stated that we were trying to avoid meeting onsite at this time. Before we could get re-listed, they also required us to remove our address, which removed us from a specific location on the map.
In summary, Google My Business will disable your listing if your website happens to block the reviewers country. We hope Google My Business reviews its support experience, but as its an unpaid product, I doubt things will improve anytime soon.