Selecting the right categories for your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the most important optimization steps you can take. The categories you choose directly impact how visible your business is for relevant local searches.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain what GMB categories are, how they affect visibility, tips for selecting your categories, and how to optimize them over time. Properly optimizing your categories can significantly boost your local SEO results.
What Are Google My Business Categories?
Google My Business categories classify what your business does and what it offers. Categories tell Google what your business is all about so it can match your listing with relevant searches.
When you create or claim your GMB listing, Google will ask you to select categories that describe your business. You can choose up to 3 top-level categories, and then drill down into more specific sub-categories.
For example, a restaurant may choose:
- Food & Drink > Restaurant > Casual Dining
- Food & Drink > Restaurant > Seafood Restaurant
Categories help Google understand your business type so it can serve your listing to local searchers looking for businesses like yours.
Why GMB Categories Impact Visibility
Selecting the right categories is crucial because it directly influences your visibility and rankings in Google local search results.
Here are some key reasons proper categories matter:
- Matches searcher intent – Your categories tell Google what types of searches your business is relevant for. More specific categories mean higher relevance for those queries.
- Surfaces your business in the Local Finder – The Local Finder widget shows categories searchers can browse. You want your business to appear there.
- Boosts ranking for category keywords – Your categories become part of your local SEO strategy. You can target category names as keywords.
- Shows in your Knowledge Panel – Chosen categories are shown in your Knowledge Panel in search results, providing more context.
The categories you select play a big role in determining which searches you appear for and how prominently.
How to Select the Right GMB Categories
Choosing the categories that best reflect what your business does is key for visibility. Here are some tips for selecting optimal GMB categories:
- Be specific – Drill down into sub-categories rather than using broad main categories when possible.
- Use all 3 categories – Populate all 3 available categories to cover various relevant niches.
- Think like customers – What words would they use to describe your business? Use those.
- Do keyword research – See what category keywords drive search volume.
- Compare competitors – What categories are other businesses in your niche using?
- Regularly review – As your business evolves, update categories accordingly.
Take time to be thoughtful and strategic with your category selection using these criteria.
Local SEO Category Optimization Best Practices
Here are some additional tips for optimizing your GMB categories for maximum visibility and search traffic:
Use Category Names in Content
Incorporate your category names into website pages and content where it fits naturally. For example, a “Mexican Restaurant in Austin” page.
Create Category Landing Pages
Having dedicated pages targeting each category provides more optimization opportunities. For example, your “Austin Catering Services” page.
Build Category-Specific Citations
Get listed on niche directories and citations sites relevant to each of your categories. This strengthens your category relevance.
Target Category Keywords
Research terms people search for your categories and local variations like “furniture stores in miami”. Target these in content.
Promote Content for Each Category
Promote website content, offers, and events tailored to each category through ads, social media, email, etc.
Refine Based on Search Trends
Use Google Trends to identify new category opportunities based on rising local search volumes.
Check Google Analytics to see which categories drive the most website traffic to assess performance.
Examples of Effective GMB Category Optimization
Here are some examples of businesses optimizing their categories for maximum visibility:
- Health & Medical > Yoga Studio
- Health & Medical > Gym
- Health & Medical > Meditation Center
Targeted: hyperlocal yoga keywords + fitness keywords
- Food & Drink > Restaurant > Italian Restaurant
- Food & Drink > Restaurant > Pizza
- Food & Drink > Restaurant > Fine Dining
Targeted: Italian cuisine keywords + pizza + fine dining keywords
- Home Services > Roofing Contractor
- Home Services > Gutter Services
- Home Services > Siding Contractor
Targeted: roofing keywords + gutter + siding keywords
- Health & Medical > Dentist
- Health & Medical> Orthodontist
- Health & Medical > Periodontist
Targeted: dentist keywords + orthodontics + periodontics keywords
Adjusting Categories Over Time
Don’t just set your categories once and leave them. It’s important to monitor your local SEO performance and search trends to adjust categories over time.
Reasons you may want to modify your categories include:
- Poor performance for a category based on website traffic and conversions
- Declining searches for a category keyword nationally or locally
- Your business expands into new service offerings
- You notice competitors ranking for a new relevant category
- Rising search volume for a new category keyword
Re-evaluate your categories every 6 months to ensure maximum visibility.
Selecting the optimal Google My Business categories has a big impact on your local SEO performance. Key tips include:
- Choosing 3 specific, relevant categories that reflect your business
- Incorporating category names into website content
- Building citations and landing pages for each category
- Doing keyword research around category keywords
- Promoting category-specific content across channels
- Monitoring search trends to adjust categories over time
With strategic category selection and ongoing optimization, you can significantly improve your local SEO results.
What steps have you found most effective for optimizing GMB categories? Let me know in the comments!