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How To Pick the Right Google My Business Categories
One of the quickest ways to improve local search rankings is by adding the right categories to your Google My Business listing. When you set up a new business in Google My Business, Google makes you pick a category for your business. When you pick your category, it helps your business show up in searches in Google My Business and Google Maps, which can give your business a boost if you primarily target local customers. In this GMB Category How-To, we will show you how to pick the right categories and use them correctly.
Important Category Numbers to Know:
- There are 3942 categories in Google My Business as of 2021. [The List]
- Google allows you to select up to 10 categories for your business.
- Only 1, can be your primary category.
How to Choose the Best Google My Business Category
- Be as specific as possible when choosing your primary Google My Business category
- Add the least number of Google My Business categories possible to describe your core business. But use enough.
- Describe your business as best as possible.
Moz performed a State of the Local SEO Industry 2020 survey and found out of all factors that affect your GMB.
GMB elements (which include categories) have the greatest impact on local pack rankings. Choose them wisely, and these elements help Google view you as a candidate to include as a result for a set of search phrases. Choose wrong and you will limit yourself from being seen in search.
Google categories can also play a role in determining which features will be available to you in your Google Business Profile/Google listing. Your choice of your primary and secondary categories contributes a lot to Google’s understanding and handling of your business.
Your primary category is believed to have the greatest influence on your local rankings, and must be chosen with extra care.
How do you change your business category on Google?
Google says, you can change and add more categories later. Once you have access to your GMB dashboard, you’ll find your categories by clicking on the “Info” tab in the left menu and looking right below your business name, where the pencil icon will let you edit your categories.
Steps to choosing the best Google categories for your business.
Determine your most important search phrases.
The full list of products and/or services you offer. Your HVAC company offers heater repair, air conditioner repair, etc. Your landscaping company offers tree service, landscape design, yard work, etc.
Search for your keywords and locations.
Example: HVAC Contractor in Cherry Hill, NJ or Painting Company in Cape May, NJ
Make a list of all the competitors in these areas that show up in the GMB 3 pack. Expand it for more competitors.
With a list of all the competitors you discovered in your market while searching from the location of your business. You are going to spy on their categories.
Use the Chrome browser and go to Chrome web store to download the free, new extension called GMBspy. This extension on enables you to go to Google Maps, search for your market competitors and see their categories.
Pay attention to the categories being used by the business ranking #1 for each of your search phrases.
Get category suggestions.
Go to this GMB Category Helper and type in your business name and up to three comma separated search phrases. This shows your current categories, the categories being used in your area, a list of category suggestions, and more useful information.
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How many GMB categories should you choose?
As many as you like, but 8 to 10 are about right if they are relevant. Don’t stuff categories thinking it will help. If you are a tree service only, don’t pick landscape design. It will throw off the algorithm and could hurt your rankings. But if you are a tree service, by all means pick, arborist and tree surgeon as a category
What should you do if Google doesn’t have your category?
With over 3900 categories, I am sure Google has your business category. If not, your next best option is to choose the category that most closely represents what your business is, and then use the business description field, images, and Google Posts to add more specific information about your products and services.
How do you know if you’ve chosen the right GMB categories?
Check your categories again, look at your competitors using GMBspy to see their categories. Look for opportunities with other relevant categories from the list.
Pay close attention to your GMB Insights, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and any other analysis software you’re using whenever you add or subtract a category from your GMB and Google Maps listing.
Why did my GMB category change?
Be aware that you’re not the only one controlling your categories. If you see a drop in rankings and notice that something has changed your categories, it could come from a third-party edit or bad data out there on the local web.
Yes, a competitor can suggest and edit. Beware, make it a habit to check and use your GMB on a weekly basis.
Why choose a less popular category?
If you are in a competitive area or your location is just outside of the competitive hub, picking a less popular category can help you rank for this lesser searched phrase.
If you are a plumber for instance, going after plumbing may be hard to rank for. But, hot water heater repair/installs or drain cleaning might be the way to go. If competitor are making it hard for you to win from a most popular category, you may find you can rank better by choosing a number of less popular categories that enable you to rank more easily or over a larger area of the map.
GMB Category Wrap Up
It will serve you well to do your research, use the tools available and play around with your categories in Google Maps and Google search. The results may surprise you.
What have you found to be your best way to find categories in GMB? Leave a comment.