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Small businesses reliance on Google for free advertising comes with risks

Small Business Crippled by Google Suspension
Pure Air Pros Tampa
Posted at 5:11 AM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 20:30:41-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Pure Aire Pros duct cleaning boasts 23 five-star reviews on Google. Owners Chevy and Stefani Gonzales said they’ve worked hard for every single one since opening their small business in Manatee County in 2021.

When it comes to advertising, they rely exclusively on Google Business Search and customer reviews. But their growing business suddenly ground to a halt earlier this year.

“We are getting lots of calls and then suddenly nothing,” Stefani told ABC Action News. “I mean zip.”

The Gonzalez’s discovered Pure Air Pros listing had disappeared from any Google duct cleaning searches in their area. After removing the listing, the couple said Google sent an email notifying them that the business had been suspended over suspicious activity.

Technology expert Ryan Malize, founder of Pinellas Computers, said Google routinely suspends accounts that may run afoul of its myriad of rules.

“You are one of millions of specs on the map that they are having to maintain and if you don't have all your ducks in a row, you are not eligible to play the Google Maps game,” Malize said.

Stefani said they sent all of their documents, even their tax information, to Google. Two weeks later the business profile was restored, but without the reviews that Pure Air Pros relies on to attract new customers. The couple made a call for action after getting nowhere with Google.

ABC Action News emailed a Google spokesperson about the missing reviews and Stefani said they were restored to their profile the same day. Then, the phones began ringing again.

One of Pure Aire Pros new customers, Max Henig, said the reviews led him to recently hire them to clean the ducts on his Bradenton house. Henig told ABC Action News he would not have hired the business without seeing their reviews.

Google advises businesses on its site:

  • Represent your business accurately
  • Make sure your service area is precise.
  • Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.
  • Provide only one profile per business