Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | February 16, 2021

How to Choose the Correct Google Business Profile (GMB) Category

One of the best ways your business can improve your local search rankings is with relevant categories on your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Findings from Whitespark’s 2020 Local Ranking Factors showed that GMB signals are now the most important factor for local pack rankings. The survey also found that out of the individual ranking factors, choosing the most relevant primary category as well as additional GMB categories all play a large role in how a business shows up in local searches.

There are over 3000 GMB categories, which Google consistently updates. You can only choose one primary category and up to nine additional categories. It’s vital brands select categories containing relevant keywords that their customers use most often when searching for their brand. Having thousands of options to choose from is great, but this means your business needs to be careful in selecting the most relevant categories.

If you’re a single-location business that offers a specialized service, such as dry cleaning, choosing the right GMB category is pretty simple. Categories become more complex for multi-location businesses that offer different services and products at each location. Let’s take Walgreens for example. If you’re a Walgreens store, you’re not just competing with other local drugstores. You’re also competing with other local businesses that offer groceries, photo services, health & beauty items, and more. But not every location is going to offer the same departments or products, requiring you to set different categories for each location. Your multi-location business needs to be methodical in choosing categories that best describe your business and will help increase your online visibility in local searches.

Step-by-step guide on choosing Google My Business categories that are the right fit for your business. 

Step 1 – Identify Relevant Search Phrases for Your Business

Selecting the right categories for your business all starts with the right research. You need to know what terms and phrases are relevant for your audience. Create a list of keywords that describes your business. From there, you can add more detailed keywords that fall under relevant GMB business categories. For example, if you’re in the retail industry like Walgreens, you can list out what categories of the retail industry you’re in such as apparel, electronics, appliances, drug store, etc. Then you can expand your search by looking into things like amenities, unique features, products to start your list for secondary categories.

Once you have this list complete, enter it into a keyword search tool like Google Keyword Planner to identify which keywords generate the most search volume. This will help you select the best categories to choose from by using search phrases that are used most frequently.

Step 2 – Research Your Competitors 

Next, you’ll want to do some additional research by examining which primary categories your competitors are using. Let’s continue with the example that you’re a drug store like Walgreens. You can either enter in keywords from your list (pharmacy, drug store, retail) or directly enter in the names of your competitors (Target, Rite-Aid, CVS) into Google, in addition to the location your business is in. Take note of which primary category is most used by these competing restaurants in your area.

In the example, you can see that all of the Walgreens locations use “Drug Store” as their primary category. This is how you can determine the best primary category your business should use for its GMB profile. Here are some additional tools to help you perform the best keyword analysis for GMB categories:

By now, you should have a list of terms that include keywords with the highest search volume and are relevant to your business, as well as keywords that your competitors are using. This list will be helpful for your next step in choosing your business’s secondary categories.

Step 3 – Choose Your Secondary Category

Although your primary category holds the most weight for Google’s search algorithm, your secondary categories are still very valuable for communicating your business’s services to consumers. Your first choice for secondary categories should be any keywords that came in as a close second to being used as the primary category.

Use your secondary categories to help describe additional service offerings or other unique features not covered with your primary category. For example, if your business is a bank that offers special financial services such as investment banking or bankruptcy services, add that as your secondary category. If you’re a retailer like Walgreens with a pharmacy or photo booth, use categories that best reference these offerings.

Step 4 – Update Your Categories Regularly 

It’s a good practice to regularly monitor your categories on Google My Business. Depending on the seasonality of your business or any new changes, you may find that your existing categories aren’t as relevant anymore. In addition, Google is always adding and removing categories. Monitoring your categories will ensure that your GMB profile is always up-to-date with the most accurate categories.

If you feel like your categories aren’t working for you, try switching your categories around. The best way to find out if you have the right categories is to test it – so there’s no harm in trying different categories to see which ones have the best results.

Having the right GMB categories on your profile requires enough research to ensure it matches search phrases consumers use to look for your business and is boosting your online visibility. Taking the time to regularly monitor and research GMB categories will help optimize your GMB profile and ultimately drive more traffic to your business.

“By being visible online for a variety of categories, businesses are able to capture and widen their customer base. Chatmeter’s rank tracking tool is designed to help its customers gain an understanding of which categories are working and which they are not visible for. Ensuring those categories are converting to customers is vital for businesses to succeed,” said Rachel Larsen, Chatmeter’s Product Marketing Manager.

If you’re a multi-location business, a tool like Chatmeter can help you manage your GMB profile seamlessly with our local SEO and reputation management solutions. Learn more about how you can improve your local SEO strategy and beat competitors with a free demo today.