“Google My Business Categories: How to Pick the Best Categories for Your GMB Listing” is a guest post by Sherry Bonelli, and is the first post in a two-blog post series on Google My Business category selection.
Picking the right Google My Business (GMB) categories for your GMB listing is a particularly important step to optimize your GMB profile. Not only do GMB categories have a direct impact on rankings (your primary category especially), but they also play a role in determining which features will be available to you in your Google Business dashboard and profile.
Let us go through the reasons why selecting the best categories for your business in GMB is so important and review some best practices.
Read the Guidelines for Representing Your Business On Google
Before you do anything with your GMB listing, it is best to read Google’s Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google. These are the guidelines merchants/businesses need to follow to determine if their business qualifies for a GMB listing and goes into detail as to other rules you must follow to keep your GMB listing in compliance and avoid having your listing suspended. Plus, there is a whole section on Categories you should thoroughly read, as seen below:
Image source: Google
Google changes and updates these guidelines frequently, so I recommend that you read these rules carefully at least once a month. Sometimes Google will add one sentence to the Guidelines that will significantly impact whether your listing complies. Keep in mind if you get suspended due to a change, you are responsible for that issue, not Google.
Why is Selecting the Right Google My Business Categories Important?
You may be too young to remember, but back in the good old days, most local businesses advertised in the Yellow Pages – an actual phone book. When a business advertised in the Yellow Pages, they had to pick a category where they wanted their (very expensive) ad to appear. Selecting GMB categories for your business listing follows the same thought process–except your GMB listing is free and you can choose up to 10 categories. Better yet, you won’t get any harassing phone calls from a Yellow Pages sales representative!
Not only do your categories impact rankings, but they also directly determine what features are available in your GMB dashboard and, as a result, your Knowledge Panel.
For instance, if you select “hotel” as your primary category, you cannot display hours. If you are a fitness center, you can promote online classes. Here are some other features that are impacted by what categories you select:
- Attributes, amenities, and service options
- Business hours
- If Google My Business Posts are available (or specific ones may only be available)
- If you can create Products, Services, Bookings, Food Menus, or Food Ordering options
For example, if you have “auto dealership” as your category, you can have more than one listing for your service department and for the various makes of vehicles you sell. You can also display your car inventory in your Knowledge Panel on mobile devices so customers can shop directly from your inventory feed.
So, choosing your categories will determine what GMB features are available to you and which ones aren’t.
How Should You Choose Your GMB Categories?
Google has more than 3,000 categories to choose from – so it can be a bit overwhelming! According to Google, when selecting categories, you should:
Select categories that complete the statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS”. The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services it offers, products it sells, or amenities it features.
When you are selecting the primary category for your business, make sure it is the most specific one possible. Google will do the rest behind the scenes if there are other categories related to your business. For example, if you select “Golf Resort” as a category, Google will know that your business is related to more general categories like “Golf Course.”
NOTE: If you run a business that has individual practitioners – such as a law firm, real estate agency, or insurance agency, here’s a tip. Practitioners should use a different category than the main business if possible. Otherwise, the main business listing and the practitioners’ listings will essentially compete with one another in search results. Google will generally filter out some of these businesses ’ results – displaying only one from the business.
A good example is a law firm and the lawyers that work there. The law firm should select “Law Firm” as their primary category, but one of the practitioners should choose the area of law they specialize in, like “criminal justice attorney” as their primary category and “Lawyer” as one of their secondary categories. And another attorney at that law firm should select a different area of specialty as their primary law category.
Here are some other examples from Google’s Guidelines:
- “Papa John’s” offers pizza takeout and delivery but does not offer on-premises dining. This quick-service restaurant should use the category “Pizza Delivery” and the additional category “Pizza Takeout” (instead of the less specific “Delivery Restaurant” or “Takeout Restaurant”).
- “Navy Federal Credit Union” should use the category “Federal Credit Union” (rather than the less specific “Bank”).
- “24 Hour Fitness” should choose the category “Health Club” (and not its amenities “Gym” or “Swimming Pool”).
There are other category recommendations for you if your business contains another business that your company doesn’t own or operate and for co-located businesses. Please check the Categories section in Google’s Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google for more specifics and details.
TIP: Even though you can’t change or make up your own GMB categories if you have a category suggestion that you think would be useful, you can follow the “how to suggest new categories to Google” article here.
Sherry’s second, follow-up blog post on Google My Business categories can be found here!
Rio SEO’s team of local marketing experts is here to help your business select the right category for the products and services you offer. Get in touch today if you need support or want to take advantage of our free local audit offer.
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.