“Best Practices for Selecting Your Google My Business Category for Your Business Type” is a guest post by Sherry Bonelli, and is the second post in a two-blog post series on Google My Business category selection. You may view the first blog post in this series here.
This post is a continuation of a previous post, where Sherry discusses why selecting the right Google My Business (GMB) category is important as well as things to take into consideration when representing your business online. In this post, we will cover tools to use to select the right category for your business, changing your primary category, and monitoring your competition. Let’s dive in.
GMB Category Tools
How do you know which categories are available? Yes, you can start typing potential words in the “Category” section in your GMB dashboard and see what pops up:
But there is a better way!
You should check out the Pleper list of GMB categories. I have been told that this list is updated every three days. Go ahead and scroll through this vast list of 3,000+ categories and see which categories are relevant to your business and start making a list of the applicable categories to your business. Then hang on to that list and keep reading…
Select Google My Business Categories That People Are Searching For
You want to look at the available categories Google offers in your industry and determine what people are searching for. For instance, if you have a business in the fitness industry, here are some GMB categories available to you:
- Bikram yoga studio
- Boxing gym
- Fitness center
- Gymnastics club
- Muay Thai boxing gym
- Personal trainer
- Physical fitness program
- Pilates studio
- Rock climbing gym
- Yoga instructor
- Yoga retreat center
- Yoga studio
- Women’s personal trainer
Now, some of these likely do not fit your business model – so they can be eliminated right away. So let’s take out “Bikram yoga studio”, “Gymnastics club”, “Muay Thai boxing gym”, “Rock climbing gym”, “Yoga retreat center” and “Yoga studio.” Why? Because all the other categories in the list better fit what your business is.
Next, let’s take a look at the remainder of the list and think carefully about the type of business you operate and the types of services you offer at your business.
In the case of the fitness business, they do offer boxing classes, but that’s not their primary core business – it’s just a part of their business.
They really are a “gym” or a “fitness center.” But how do they decide which one to select as their primary category?
Using BuzzSumo, let’s research the search volume for the keywords “gym” and “fitness center”. These categories seem to be the best fit for the business:
The keyword “Gym” receives 823K searches monthly.
Whereas the keywords “fitness center” only gets 33.1k searches per month.
But, notice how BuzzSumo is also listing variants of the keyword “gym” in the list of keywords for “fitness center”? That means that these keywords are related. So, if I ran this fitness business, I would select “Gym” as my primary GMB category and “Fitness center” as my secondary category.
Would I select any more categories? Perhaps. For instance, does my gym have personal trainers? If so, my third category would be “Personal Trainer.” And if I offer boxing classes, I may choose “boxing gym” as another category. See how that works?
The primary GMB category is the most important, and the importance of categories goes down from there.
But, you will also notice that Google is smart enough to know that a gym and a fitness center are related. When you do a search for either of those keywords, the businesses that show up in the Google Local Three-Pack will often show a mix of both categories, as seen in the example below.
First, let’s look at gyms.
Now, let’s change the search slightly for a fitness center.
How cool is that? (I love smart Google!)
What Categories do Your Competitors Use?
It is also important to see what Categories your competitors are using – and how they rank compared to you for various keywords. Two tools you can use to find the keywords your competitors are using are:
- GMBSpy Chrome extension
- And PlePer Local SEO Tools Chrome Extension:
When you use the PlePer Local SEO Tools Chrome Extension and search for competitors on Google Maps, you can see a variety of things, including the various categories they have selected:
Common Categories Marked as Spam
A warning to some business types. There are certain business categories that are known for being “spammy” and just by selecting these categories, you are setting off red warning flags to Google that you could be a spammer and illegitimate business. Here is just a partial list of some of those categories:
- Garage Door company
- Real Estate Agents
- Pest Control companies
- Tree Pruning
- And more…
In fact, most Service Area Businesses (SABs) could be considered to be spam by Google and are at a greater risk of getting their listing suspended by Google. This is something to keep in mind. It just means that you need to be extra vigilant about following Google’s rules.
Editing or Changing Your GMB Categories
If you think you did not pick the right category or categories, don’t worry. You can edit your categories whenever you want, but keep in mind that changing your categories can impact your rankings. Also, changing your GMB categories too often can sometimes trigger a suspension or cause Google to re-verify your GMB listing. If this were to happen, you will have to go through the PIN postcard verification process again. Therefore, I recommend that you think long and hard about the ideal primary category and the other categories you select and stick with them unless you absolutely need to change them.
NOTE: There are some businesses that may want to change their primary category because of the type of services they offer. For example, in the fall, an HVAC business might want to change their primary category from “Air conditioning repair service” to “Furnace repair service”.
Help! I Can’t Change My Categories
Sometimes we come across people that cannot – for whatever reason – change their categories. If you run into this issue, here is a workaround. Log in to your GMB dashboard. Go to the “Info” section. Keep the category that you do not want (leave that unchanged) but add the new category as an additional category. Then wait a day and check to make sure the additional category is still there.
If the additional category is still listed in the Category section in your GMB listing when you go back to check, then IN ONE STEP exchange the category you do not want with the category you do want to keep and submit the change. (Note: Thanks to Google My Business Diamond Product Expert Helmut Geissler for this workaround.)
Concluding: Choose Your Categories Carefully
Picking the best category for your GMB listing is crucial if you want Google to show your business for the keywords you are trying to rank for in your local area. Select wisely and work with a trusted team of local marketing experts, such as Rio SEO, to ensure you’re properly optimizing your GMB listings.
Sherry Bonelli, owner of early bird digital marketing, is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and digital marketing professional with 23+ years of experience. Her digital marketing agency, early bird digital marketing, serves clients all over the country.
Sherry is a Google My Business Gold Product Expert and is/has been a columnist for leading digital marketing websites like Search Engine Land, MOZ, Search Engine Journal, SEMrush, BrightLocal, SCORE, and others. She received Search Engine Land’s 2018 SEO Contributor of the Year Award. For two years in a row, her blog posts were among the top 10 most read articles on Search Engine Land’s website.
She is a recognized presenter and speaker at leading digital marketing conferences, podcasts, and webinars like Traffic & Conversion Summit, State of Search, Digital Marketer, SCORE, Moz, Edge of the Web, Local Marketing Institute, Duct Tape Marketing, Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, Florida Realtors Convention, and others. Sherry also holds a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing. She is also a LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com Course Instructor.
You can find out more information by visiting https://earlybirddigitalmarketing.com or by calling 319-409-3287.