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Navigating the Complexities of GMB Guidelines When Switching from Location to Service Area

Apr 21

Google My Business (GMB) is essential for businesses to improve their online presence and reach potential customers. However, managing and updating GMB listings can sometimes be challenging due to unclear, vague, and occasionally contradictory guidelines. Many business owners have reported that changing their GMB listing from a location to a service area results in suspension, even following the available policies.

In this blog post, we will delve into the complexities surrounding GMB guidelines, discuss the challenges faced by business owners, and offer some tips on minimizing the risk of suspension when making changes to your GMB listing.

The Challenges of GMB Guidelines

  1. Unclear and vague instructions: The GMB guidelines can be challenging to interpret, as they often provide general information rather than specific instructions. This can leave business owners needing help updating their listings and avoiding suspension correctly.
  2. Contradictory guidelines: Some GMB guidelines appear to conflict, making it even more challenging for business owners to understand the best approach when updating their listings.
  3. Inconsistency in enforcement: GMB guidelines may only sometimes be consistently enforced by Google. This means that some businesses may successfully make changes without suspension, while others may face suspension for the same changes.
  4. Lack of direct support: Many business owners need help getting direct support from Google when encountering issues with their GMB listings. This can make it challenging to resolve suspensions or gain clarification on guidelines.

Tips to Minimize the Risk of Suspension

Despite the challenges, there are still steps you can take to minimize the risk of suspension when changing your GMB listing from a location to a service area:

  1. Research and educate yourself: Spend time researching and familiarizing yourself with GMB guidelines, case studies, and the experiences of other business owners who have successfully made the switch. This can help you better understand the nuances and potential pitfalls.
  2. Consult with experts: Seek advice from GMB experts, SEO professionals, or other business owners who have successfully navigated changing their listing type. They can provide insights or suggestions to avoid potential issues. However, as of this post, I have consulted multiple experts in local SEO, and none believe it's possible to make the switch without getting the suspension hammer.
  3. Make gradual changes: Consider incremental updates rather than making multiple changes to your GMB listing immediately. This can help minimize the risk of triggering a suspension and allow you to monitor the effects of each shift.
  4. Document your changes: Record your changes to your GMB listing, including dates and reasons for each shift. This documentation can be helpful if you need to appeal a suspension or seek clarification from Google.
  5. Be prepared for suspension: Even with the best efforts, there is still a risk of suspension when changing your GMB listing. Be prepared to address suspensions quickly and efficiently by having a plan in place, including backup contact information and a thorough understanding of the appeal process.


Changing your GMB listing from a location-based listing to a service area listing can be a complex and frustrating process due to unclear, vague, and sometimes contradictory guidelines. However, by educating yourself, seeking expert advice, and implementing a careful and measured approach, you can minimize the risk of suspension and ensure your business remains visible to potential customers.

While there is no guaranteed method to avoid suspension entirely, taking these precautions can help you navigate the complexities of GMB guidelines and maintain a robust online presence for your business.