How to Choose Your Google Business Profile Categories Effectively

Select the proper categories for your business and watch your local search rankings skyrocket.

how to select the best google business profile categories

How To Select The Best Google Business Profile Categories

Local businesses worldwide sell different products or offer various services, which is the primary reason they are all different and unique.

With the vastness and diversity of each industry on the market, numerous categories of businesses around the globe are emerging every year, which is like trying to count the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the beach.

Although not as many as in real life, the folks at Google try their best to update their list of more than 4000 categories a business owner selects for their Google Business Profile.

You might initially perceive that number as chaotic, which could result in headaches when you’re optimizing your listing.

Don’t worry! This article is designed to help you effectively select your Google Business Profile categories and steer clear of potential (or grave) mistakes.

What Is The Categories Section On Google Business Profile?

The categories section is where you get to showcase what your business is all about and what makes it unique. Choosing the right category can make all the difference in helping potential customers find your business online.

Imagine someone is searching for a specific type of business in your area, like a “grocery store in Dallas, Texas”. If you don’t have the correct category listed (grocery store), you could miss out on potential customers!

Hence, it is imperative to invest sufficient time in selecting the most fitting category that precisely represents your business, thereby enhancing your visibility on Google Maps.

Google lets you choose one primary category and up to 9 secondary categories.

Main Google My Business Category

Here, you list only one category that best describes your business, so it would be best to think of it as the heartbeat of your online presence! It’s the main category that best represents your business and helps Google understand what you’re all about.

The primary category on Google Business Profile

Consider it the first impression of potential customers who stumble upon your business online. It’s the first thing they see and sets the tone for their entire experience with your brand.

Some examples would be:

Fitness Center: “Gym”

Car Repair Shop: “Auto Repair Shop”

Restaurant serving Italian food: “Italian Restaurant”

Additional Google Business Categories

Google lets you choose up to 9 categories relevant to your business, especially since most local businesses these days offer more than one type of product or service.

Think of secondary categories as a way to showcase your business’ different aspects. Maybe you offer a wide range of products or services that people can not find anywhere else in your local area.

Secondary categories on Google Business Profile

This option will definitely help highlight those other aspects and make it easier for potential customers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

To make things easier, I will give three examples where adding more categories will help you appear for different search terms.

A Hair Salon specializing in women’s haircuts can also include men’s haircuts and nail art. In that case, the additional categories are “barber shop” and “nail salon”.

A dress store can also sell fashion accessories, in which case you should include “Fashion accessories store”.

A massage therapist who also does sports massage should add “Sports Massage Therapist”.

How To Choose The Ideal Business Categories

To choose the perfect set of categories for your business, you should implement the following strategies, which will act as the three pillars of your final decision.

1) Use Common Logic 

First, you decide your category based on common sense and the logic of the real world.

Do you have a storefront that sells all kinds of groceries? Then you must 100% choose “grocery store” as your primary category.

Refrain from overcomplicating this because, at the end of the day, your online presence is based on your real-world presence.

Let’s approach this logically. Take a moment to consider all the products and services you offer. Set aside the ones that precisely align with your primary category. What remains is a distinct set that should be converted into additional categories.

In the previous example with the grocery store, you produce a selection of top-quality wines and sell them at your storefront. In that case, you have a unique product that has nothing to do with groceries, so you should add “wine shop” as your secondary category.

Although the concept of logic is the most straightforward strategy you can follow, you need to prove those additional categories to Google, which is where you should start implementing other tactics that fall into the aspect of Google’s local search algorithm.

2) Follow The Algorithmic Way

To ensure approval of your categories, it is recommended to utilize this option and establish an online presence beforehand. This will enhance your chances of receiving Google’s approval.

To do that, you must build citations on local directories, social media, and major data aggregators like Foursquare. There, you list your business with main and secondary categories, fill in all the information and wait ten days to 15 days so that Google indexes some of them, and then you can safely input your categories.

Build online presence to help the google algorith list your categories on GBP

Continue uploading images on your GBP relevant to the services and products you offer, and create service pages on your website with enough content to describe its service. Your website should also have different images adequately optimized with keywords related to each category.

3) Spy Οn Υour Competitors

If one of your competitors is in the Map Pack, they are doing something right with their GBP, so I am a huge fan of spying on them and finding out which categories they’re currently using.

Finding their primary category is the easiest part because Google displays it under their business name. Still, for the secondary ones, you’ve got to do some digging because Google hides them from the public.

You won’t find them anywhere on the listings, so in that case, you can use a Chrome extension called GMB Everywhere, which lets you see your competitors’ additional categories for free.

Spy on your competitors business categories using gmb everywhere chrome extension

It is very straightforward to use, but if you need help, here’s a short tutorial on installing it and spying on your competitors in Google Maps.

Why Are Google Business Profile Categories Important?

This section is vital when done correctly and a crucial step in your Google Business Profile checklist because it sets the foundation upon which your Google listing is built from the start.

Primary Category

From the customer’s perspective, when they search for a specific type of business, they already know why they need to visit or call that business to buy particular products or services, which is the main reason you must be 100% specific when choosing your primary category, to match a person’s search query.

For example, someone searching for a grocery store in Dallas, Texas, wants to buy groceries for their home. Someone searching for a plumber in Toronto, Canada, needs an expert to fix pipes that broke into his house.

That high level of importance must be reminded to anyone who wants to create a Google Business Profile, especially since the primary category is considered the highest local pack ranking factor, according to the local SEO experts at Whitespark.

Google business profile categories are the most important ranking factor on local search according to whitespark
Credits: whitespark.ca

Secondary Categories

As for the additional categories, here you’re presented with a unique chance to demonstrate more aspects of your business that can make you stand out from the competition.

While your primary category should accurately reflect the main focus of your business, additional categories can highlight specific products or services you offer, attracting more potential customers to your store.

To optimize your listing, it is crucial to furnish Google with additional categories. These categories essentially function as keywords, enabling potential customers to discover your business when they search for specific terms on Google Maps. This ensures that they can find the ideal business offering the specific services or products they require at that particular moment.

Finally, don’t worry about confusing Google with more categories because if they are relevant to your business, they won’t dilute the power of your main one.

Finally, they are amongst the 10 most significant ranking factors in local search, although less important than your primary category.

Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing Business Categories

Here’s some helpful advice with the categories section:

If you change the primary category after your listing has matured before doing the same to your websites and citations, your listing may get suspended. The reason is that you have to prove to Google that your business has changed category across the web before it actually trusts that decision of yours.

The same may happen for the secondary categories, although the chances here are 50% less.

Depending on what categories you choose, certain GBP features may or may not appear (bookings), and some business types are restricted from using Google Posts (Gun shops, Casinos).

You can and should change the category of a business affected by seasonality. Seasonality can significantly impact a business, and changing your primary category to reflect your seasonal offerings can help attract more customers searching for those services or products.

Example: A sports shop may change its primary category from “Sports Equipment Store” to “Ski Shop” during the winter season to focus on its ski gear and attract customers looking to hit the slopes.

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