Yes, at least in certain cases. By my lights, even if your Google Business Profile page has been soft-suspended and you’re locked out of your own page unless and until you re-verify, Google may still send you an email notification that a customer has posted a review. It’s a ghost in the machine.
You won’t get the alert in all cases, of course. You won’t get notifications if, for instance, someone reviews a GBP page you never created or verified – perhaps one that Google auto-generated. That’s because Google doesn’t know you have any connection to it.
I’d always assumed and observed that if Google makes you re-verify your GBP page to confirm your ownership, you are considered a stranger until you’ve re-verified. The rules may not be so hard and fast, though.
Time to explain. Here was the basic situation with a longtime client of mine:
- The GBP page we’d had up and snafu-free for many years was hard-suspended one day – meaning it was removed from Maps entirely. I did the reinstatement: I sent in the requested documentation that showed the business is legit, and I tweaked the service-area setting. That was it.
- 2 days later we got reinstated. It was a quick reinstatement, because we were at the receiving end of an “oops” move by Google. Google didn’t even ask us to change any of our settings or use a different address or anything. Though we were reinstated, we didn’t show up for any search terms, and were in purgatory.
- Assuming that we might be in limbo for a while, I added a little escape hatch: I switched us back to using a physical address, rather than the service area. (I have found hidden-address SABs far more prone to rankings and compliance issues.) As I suspected, that triggered reverification, meaning Google soft-suspended us and removed our admin access. So although we had been reinstated, it sure didn’t feel like it, because not only were we not ranking for anything, but we didn’t even control the GBP page anymore. The postcard with the PIN was on the way, and soon we’d be able to re-verify ownership of the page
- 2 days later we showed up again in the 3-pack like thunder: We popped right back to the top of the local rankings and with our huge stack of reviews. By this point only 4 or so days had passed since we ran into trouble. Felt like a long 4 days, but it was comparatively brief: Most suspensions drag on for much longer, for a variety of reasons. All’s well that ends well.
- Here’s the first crazy part: we chose not to complete the re-verification for almost 2 weeks after storming back into the 3-pack. For reasons I may explain some other time, but that I can sum up with the word “caution,” we decided to keep the PIN postcard around for a while as a beer coaster.
- Now here’s the second crazy part: during that time after we resumed ranking tip-top but before we re-verified as admins, my client got notified of new Google reviews on that page. Customers found him in the search results, paid him, reviewed him, and Google notified him – all while we were locked out of the page.
Strange, huh? I never got the notifications: My client got the messages, and forwarded them to me. That makes sense, because he had been the designated “owner” of the page, whereas I was and am only an admin. At first he got notifications only on some of the reviews, whereas the other notifications showed up in a batch later. Why they showed up in batches is above my paygrade. But my client shouldn’t have received ANY notifications, because (again) Google had temporarily kicked us both out of the page. I doubt it was a malfunction.
So why in tarnation did my client get new-review notifications even when he was temporarily locked out? A few theories I’ve been meditating on:
- He HAD been verified, and for many years.
- We had other GBP pages, for other locations of that business, and those pages were in the same Google account and were still owner-verified. In other words, only this one location was affected.
- We had had a reinstatement pending, and a couple of interactions with GBP support. So they did know my client was the owner of the page.
- Our re-verification was pending at that time, and Google may have been prodding us to complete the verification. As in, “Hey, look at these new reviews – wouldn’t it be a shame if you couldn’t respond to any reviews because you haven’t re-verified?” Kind of a taunt, the way I see it.
Again, those are just theories. I still haven’t figured out definitively why we got any alerts about new Google reviews while we were unverified.
Have you seen this? Any knowledge or theories as to why Google sent those notifications? Leave a comment!
P.S. What’s the practical takeaway? Mainly that every GBP suspension / snafu is a little unique and a little unpredictable. It may not unfold the way you expect it to, and it may not have come about for the reasons Google or SEOs led you to believe. Also, even though the processes of contacting support, getting reinstated, and getting re-verified are pretty hard and straight cattle chutes, there’s still some room for judgment calls and handling things differently. You don’t have to follow a theory or a gut feeling, but you do need to consider it.
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