Why doesn’t my business show up on Google? Here are 4 reasons why

Key takeaways

  • Claim and verify your Google Business Profile listing to ensure accurate and up-to-date business information.
  • Optimize your Google Business Profile to improve your online visibility and search engine rankings.
  • Optimize your website for search engines to increase online visibility, drive more traffic, and attract more customers.

Have you had clients come to you asking why their business isn’t showing up on Google? They’re not alone. Many owners of small and medium-sized (SMB) businesses face this issue, which inevitably limits their online visibility, customer traffic, and revenue.

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In our always-online age, having a digital presence is non-negotiable, and for most people Google acts as the front door to the internet. That’s why it’s so essential to understand why a business isn't showing up on Google and how to fix it. That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.

Understanding Google business listings

No matter what kinds of digital services your agency specializes in, ensuring your clients have  Google Business Profile (GBP) is a must. This listing is often the first thing potential customers see about a business, and it’s essential to help them find out more information and continue along their customer journey.

Before we get into the details of what to do when your client asks you why their business doesn’t show up on Google Maps or search, let’s first get clear on what a GBP is, how it works, and why it matters.

How Google Business Listing works

The Google Business Profile is a feature offered by the tech giant that allows businesses to create a pretty feature-packed profile. It appears in relevant Google search results as well as in Google Maps:
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In addition to the listing that appears when users search for a specific business like in the example above, Google also displays a list of 3 search results known as the Local Listings, Local Pack, or Google 3-pack when people search for a related term, such as “accounting firms near me”. This list includes the top three businesses that match the search query, along with a map showing their locations:
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Google uses a complex algorithm to determine which businesses appear in the Local Pack. It takes into account a variety of factors, including the relevance of the business to the search query, the distance between the searcher and the business, and the business's overall reputation.

Both the GBP and the local pack can deliver serious traffic to a business, so when your customers are wondering why their Google business isn’t showing up, they have every right to be concerned. Landing in that much-coveted Local Pack is often the explicit goal of SMBs and marketers, since it can serve as a shortcut to dramatic increases in traffic and conversions. Rather than paying for ads, businesses in the 3-pack get to appear at the top of relevant SERPs without having to pay for those clicks.

Why business visibility on Google matters

Having a Google Business Profile is just as important for your smallest clients as it is for the big guys. It dramatically improves visibility and discoverability on Google’s properties, and since Google is by far the most popular search engine in the world, this listing is worth prioritizing. Even if a prospective customer has never heard of your client’s business before, if it appears in the relevant Local Pack, it’s far more likely to be noticed and discovered by new customers.

It’s also worth noting that it’s not just about making sure a business shows up on Google, although that is very important. To really make the most of this significant piece of online real estate, it should be as useful as possible to users. That means data should be correct and up-to-date, and ideally, active with lots of reviews, frequently asked questions, posts, and images. The stronger the GBP is, the likelier it is to show up on Google for relevant search terms.

On top of discoverability, the analytics you can get through a GBP are also valuable. Through Google Business Profile Insights, you can see trends in how people are interacting with the profile, which can inform other marketing decisions.

Common reasons for a business not showing on Google

Luckily, it’s usually pretty straightforward to figure out why a business doesn’t appear on Google Maps or in search. In most cases, it will be one of a few common reasons, so let’s take a look at what they are. Use this as a checklist if you’re helping your clients troubleshoot a situation in which their listing isn’t showing up.

1. Verification issues

For Google to display a business listing, that business needs to be verified by Google. It’s easy to understand why they use this safeguard, since it makes it more difficult for people to create fraudulent listings.

The most common process for verifying Google Business Profiles is with a postcard. Google sends the postcard to the business address, then the business confirms a code on the postcard with Google to demonstrate that they do in fact operate in their stated address. However, there are also some ways to verify a GBP without a postcard.

If your client has already gone through the verification process but their Google business is not showing up, there might have been some issue with their verification. You can move on to the next steps, or contact Google support for help.

2. Profile incompleteness

Another reason why a business doesn’t show up on Google Search is that the GBP is incomplete. To signal to Google that your client’s business is legitimate, it helps to fill it up with information about the business. At the most basic level, you’ll need NAP data (name, address, and phone number), but going beyond this is a good idea. Aim to fill out as many fields as possible, add business hours, incorporate some photos and posts, use keywords where applicable, and double-check that the business category associated with the listing is appropriate.

3. Inaccurate business information

If your business information is inaccurate or inconsistent across different online directories, it can negatively impact your search rankings. NAP data should be identical across different online business listings since any discrepancies make a business look unprofessional and untrustworthy (both to real-world users and Google’s algorithm). Duplicate listings should aslo be deleted or merged, with reference to the business’s CID number, for the same reason. Using a tool like Vendasta’s Listing Builder puts this on autopilot by maintaining consistency across listings and removing duplicates.

4. Google's non-compliance guidelines

If your client’s business is in violation of Google’s guidelines in any way, it’s possible for Google to suspend the business so that it doesn’t show up on Google Search. They might accidentally have the business in the wrong category, have fraudulent reviews, or otherwise be out-of-step with the rules set out by Google.

How to enhance business visibility on Google

If a business listing won’t show up on Google, it understandably throttles traffic and revenue. Whatever the reason for a Google business not showing up, getting it to appear again should be a high priority for your clients. Without proper Google Business Profile management, any other digital services you offer them will also be negatively impacted. Luckily, there are reliable ways to enhance your client’s GBP visibility, so let’s take a look at some of these.

Completing and updating your Google Business Profile

Assuming the business has been verified, the first and most important step to boosting visibility is to get it complete and updated. The more “active” a profile is, the more Google will see it as informative enough to show to searchers.

Beyond the basics, it helps to add FAQ questions, respond to questions that arise swiftly and professionally, and encourage customers to help by leaving reviews. This shouldn’t be considered something you just do once and then leave: it’s best to keep the GBP active and fresh with posts about news, promotions, events, new products, or anything else that existing and prospective customers might find interesting.

Following Google's guidelines

Even if a business is getting away with breaking or bending one of Google’s rules now, it’s always possible that they’ll be suspended later. It’s not worth trying to outsmart Google, so strictly adhering to their GBP guidelines should be every business’s MO. These cover the kind of content allowed on a profile as well as rules about how to interact with customers on Google. If a business doesn’t appear on Google Maps or search, double-checking to see if it violates any rules is a good idea.

Seeking help from Google support

If you’ve taken care of everything that could potentially be limiting the visibility of a GBP and are still finding that the business doesn’t show up on Google search, it may be time to seek help from Google itself. They offer a variety of support options for businesses, including phone and email support, as well as a help center with documentation that can help you dig deeper into the problem.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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