Google My Business categories: how to choose to increase your visibility on maps
There are many factors that influence your company's ranking in the top local search results. Let's see what role the selected categories play in this when creating and filling out your company listing in Google My Business (GMB).
According to the updated list of local search ranking factors, GMB factors (which include categories) have the greatest impact on local search results.

Google My Business ranking factors, 2021


Categories are assigned to your business so that your company's products or services are correctly classified on Google.

Categories in GMB also affect:

  • what features will be available in your GMB profile/listing;
  • what attributes will be associated with your business;
  • whether you can add a booking button;
  • what pricelists can you use;
  • whether you can specify primary and secondary hours of work in your listing.

You choose a category right after you enter your company's name when creating a Google My Business listing.
Later, you can change the main category and add up to 10 additional ones. They can be edited in the GMB profile at any time. Keep in mind, though, that the main category has the greatest impact on your listing ranking and should be chosen wisely.


How to choose a Google category
Let's outline the basic steps in selecting categories on Google for your business.
1
Determine your key search terms and phrases
We recommend that you create a list that includes:

  • The type of your business (for example, "supermarket", "medical center", "restaurant") and its profile. For example, if you have a restaurant, specify if it is an "Italian restaurant", "family restaurant", etc. A supermarket can also be a "food wholesaler" or a "natural food store".

  • A complete list of the goods and services you offer. For example, your beauty salon offers services for hair, nails, make-up and goods like professional cosmetics, instruments, branded accessories.

Then turn to keyword research tools and determine which terms have the most potential reach. They can be paid or free ones. An example of such a tool is SEMrush Keyword Analysis.

If you enter the keyword "Pizza restaurant", you can get the following data:
Screenshot from SEMrush (results on "Pizza restaurant")
And here are the results for "Italian restaurant":
Screenshot from SEMrush (results on "Italian restaurant")
Next to each keyword, write down its search reach and narrow your list down to those words/phrases that have the most reach and fit your type of business the best.

In our case, "Italian restaurant" is a more comprehensive request. So, we will choose it as the category.
2
Define which categories your competitors use
    Now open Google and start searching in the local market using your filtered keywords from the list. Your local market is formed from the location of your customers in relation to the location of your business.

    A local market can be the size of your area, including an entire city, or even neighboring towns. It all depends on the business model of your company, which Google defines itself.

    For example, a coffee shop may have a very small local market if most of its customers come to take their coffee to go. As a rule, these are people who live or work nearby. Meanwhile, the local market for a zoo can be much wider, as people are ready to travel larger distances if they want to visit it.

    Now make a list of all the competitors you have found in your local market — further, GMBspy will help you with the analysis.

    GMBspy is a free Chrome extension that will help you to save time. It allows you to navigate to Google Maps, search for competitors in your local market, and browse their categories. You can search for competitors one by one, or simply hover your mouse over the map to see pop-up data.
    3
    Check which categories GMB offers
      Google My Business can also help with identifying additional categories you might want to add. For example:
      Now, you are ready to make the right choice of categories for your business.
      What other questions may arise
      Let's answer some of the most common questions about choosing categories:
      — How many categories can I choose?
      — You can choose 1 main and 10 additional categories.
      Important: never add categories that are irrelevant to your business. For example, if your business is a pub, you evidentially shouldn't add barbershop as a category. This can completely confuse Google, your customers, and hurt your local rankings. Meanwhile, if each category you choose suits your business, you will be fine.
      — What if there is no needed category for my business on Google?
      — Google has a huge number of categories covering many business models. But sometimes you can't find a suitable one at first glance. In this case, choose the category that is the closest to what your business is doing, and fill in as much information as possible about your company, its products and services: business description, images, and Google posts.
      — How do I know if I have chosen the right category?
      — Many factors affect the visibility of your listing in the local search. However, if you have done everything possible to fill in the Google listings correctly, but they are still not visible in the local search results, it is worth checking the selected categories one more time. Which categories your direct competitors are using. Are your categories the same or are you missing something?

      Finally, remember that you are not the only one in control of your categories. If you notice that your categories have been mysteriously changed, this could be due to third parties editing your listings. To fully control access to and information in your listings, use special software solutions such as RocketData. The RocketData platform will help you keep your listings in the correct state and protect them from unauthorized changes.
      — Which category should I choose if I have a diversified business?
      — Google's guidelines allow some business models to have multiple listings for the same physical location. It can be:

      • Multi-department models with multiple directions. For example, a medical center with separate departments of cardiology, pediatrics, emergency care, etc.
      • Multi-practitioner models. For example, a law firm with several lawyers of different specializations.
      • Multi-brand models. For example, the automotive industry, where Google allows separate listings for dealerships selling different brands of cars.
      Google recommends creating a separate listing for each area in a multi-entity business and choosing a separate category for it.
      — When the least popular category can be used?
      — The main goal when creating GMB listings is to increase the number of visits and foot traffic to your company. If geography or competition makes it difficult to maximize revenue from the most popular category, you can compensate by choosing a number of less popular categories that will give you an edge and reach the top local rankings.
      To sum up
      Filling in categories in GMB is an important part of working with your company listings on Google. Analyze the data, be methodical and careful, and you can choose the right category to rank successfully on Google.

      From time to time check if new categories are available. They can increase your visibility on local search results, as well as increase your foot traffic and calls.

      Use available services and tools to analyze categories on Google in detail. This will save your time and provide you with more accurate data.
      Want to keep your GMB listings perfectly updated? RocketData is here for your business to take everything under control — book a demo to find out more.
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