More threads by James Watt

Oct 25, 2013
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I've seen the warnings against this make the rounds on here at different times, and I imagine no one active in this forum would be making a mistake like this, but still. My dad always said, the smart man learns from his own mistakes, the wise man learns from others, so I figured I'd share here. At the very least, always good to see real-world examples instead of just best practices. Now you have even more proof that it's a good idea to always keep clients on their own accounts.

An Important Post from the GMB Community

<a href="">account suspended including all listings with no explanations</a>

The short version of this story... a consultant had over 60 clients on one account, and they were all suspended overnight. In general, if a single business gets picked up for spam, any other businesses owned by the same Google account can get suspended as well. For those of you working in bulk with many locations on the same account, there might be other rules there, I'd be interested to hear if that's a danger for larger organizations as well. Either way, for those of you with just a lot of different clients, always make sure to keep them on their own designated account. I do that with all my clients for all other services anyway (hosting, domain registration, etc) since if/when they you two part ways it's nice not to have a bunch of annoying, time consuming work to give the client their logins.

One interesting caveat with this case: the OP in the thread above claimed that even business accounts he was only the manager of were suspended. I've never heard of that happening before, and I suspect that that company is either using some method across the board that got them all picked up for spam, or they're mistaken about the businesses they were only managers of... though if anyone else has had an account with businesses they were the manager of that got falsely shut down for spam violations on a different business in the account like this, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.
Thanks so much for posting that one for me James, I appreciate it a ton!

You KNOW I have something to say on this, but won't be able to weigh in til tomorrow AM.

I'll share it then too!

Thanks again!
This isn't as much of a problem for larger organizations because we have the ability to bulk verify and manage in a different interface. Unless you're blatantly spamming the listings, you won't get hit with a problem like this. Depending on the brand, each page will essentially be the same with the exception of the description and landing page URL. If the business has a ton of locations, then it's probable that even the descriptions will be very similar since it would take more resources to create unique ones... and since they're not even showing these days, it's hard to justify pulling a resource for that instead of optimizing the on-site landing page.

As for a consultant working with many different businesses, this is all the more reason to get manager access to the client-owned accounts. If they need to get a page verified, then make sure you're doing it from their @domain email address, then give yourself manager access. Gotta keep 'em separated :D
Another option that we like to use, is to create a Gmail account for the customer and claim, update and optimise listings from there (as long as the customer doesn't already have access).

It also allows you to manually request changes for citations from that Gmail rather than listings to get multiple update requests from the same account.

If the client does leave we transfer ownership of the Google+ page to their account or pass them the gmail account. Becoming a manger of the page, as mentioned above, is the best option if the customer wants to update the page themselves or if they already have control of their listing.
I would strongly recommend using an email address from the client's domain. It creates a higher level of trust. Anyone can create a gmail account, but only the business owner or a representative of the business can get an email from the client domain. It's also preferred when working with Google My Business support.

That also eliminates your last step of transfer of ownership, since the customer already has ownership. It's also more secure because they're not at risk of losing that email account, since they control access via their cPanel account.

Simply put, don't use generic gmail accounts for GMB claiming/ownership. Use it for management.
I agree Eric, that using a client domain email adds a lot of trust and can really come in handy especially if there is an ownership conflict.

And regarding managing multiple clients in the same account, I've warned against that for years. I've seen consultants at the old Google forum that had 200 clients in the same account – all get suspended! Talk about a never-ending nightmare you'd never want to have to go through!

Like James said all it takes is one or two problems on one or two listings and the whole account get suspended – including all the clients that were in compliance.

Thanks again for sharing this one James!

Like you said, none of the pros here would ever do this, but a lot of new consultants and SEOs that don't specialize in local read this forum too and many times they are not aware of all the GMB gotchas!

But the fact that he said even accounts owned by clients, that he is only a manager for were suspended is disturbing. Makes me think there was maybe more going on than meets the eye.
That's pretty drastic!

Can you guys imagine this happening to you? Not only having to explain to the client screwed up and their listing is toast. But all the support calls to try and get reinstated, which is really tough with suspensions. And potentially having to start over from scratch and create all new listings. Plus sometimes when there's a spam flag on a business location, I think you're even prevented from starting a new listing. NIGHTMARE CITY!
I just dealt with this over on the GMB help forum.

A couple of business pages were a bit "iffy" which resulted in account being suspended which in turn all the rest became suspended.

The way I deal with this, and I believe is just good business morals is this. The client provides me with an account to use. I like to use the Analytics account if they have one set up for their site already, which allows me the possibility of using Search console to instantly verify the account. OR I create one for the client, in their name, and DOB, and use this.

In both cases they are owners of the account and my GMB account is added as manager.

This means that the client always owns their own property and my other pages are all fine.
Eric - I remember reading a post by Mike Blumethal a while ago on the Google+ pro forum (can't find it now) that asserted the email you sign up with had no ranking benefit... though I know for a fact you're right about having a domain email making it easier to deal with Google support. Have you seen any cases that lead you to believe the email you use helps for more than just support calls and initial verification and such?

Tim - thanks for sharing the follow up! I meant to keep an eye on that thread to find out what was going on with that, especially with the manager pages supposedly being suspended as well. And yeah, your best practice is what I do too... any other way is just asking for a mess down the line, or at least a client potentially walking away feeling like you were less than professional.
Correct, I didn't mean to imply there was any sort of ranking benefit with the email address you use to register. That's purely for Trust from Google Support. My mistake if that was confusing.

Basically what's going to happen if you run into a nasty situation where you need to contact GMB support is that they'll ask for the page owner's email address. Anyone can create a gmail account, so that adds another knot in the process for them. If you have a @clientdomain email address as the owner, the whole process goes a lot easier.
I commented over on the thread because I'd like to confirm if these were soft or hard suspensions. If they were just soft suspensions then it just means the page got unverified. Hard suspensions are when the listing itself is removed from MapMaker and you have to do something pretty bad to get that.
+100 to Eric's advice on setting up GMB accounts with @clientdomain email addresses. It's a MAJOR trust signal and has saved some of our clients' accounts several times from bizarre mishaps and glitches.

Added bonus: if one of your franchisees or store managers requests ownership of a listing verified in that @clientdomain account, Google now requires authorization from an @clientdomain email address before they will send you (the account manager) an ownership request. I've included a screenshot of this below. Before this feature we used to get inundated with requests from station managers for one of our clients (a gas station brand), but those have dropped off noticeably since Google started doing this. We first noticed it in late Q4 2015.

I can totally see the other side of this from a frustrated business owner's POV (why won't Google let me claim my own business's listing from corporate!?) but it's a much needed buffer for those of us who manage from the enterprise side.


When someone is starting a new business and I don't have access to an email address, I've often set them up under my own GMB account and then transferred ownership to them. If they are the owner of the listing and I'm just a manager, is that really a risky practice?
'Other than the case I posted above, I haven't heard of anyone's business profile being at risk just for being managed by someone that had a profile that got flagged. Your way sounds fine to me, though I'd err on the side of temporarily claiming it and setting it up on a clean account that didn't have other owned businesses already on it.

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