Optimization of GMB categories from mobile phone

Properly Optimizing GMB Categories

To rank higher on Google Maps, business profiles need to have accurate and updated information in all the fields of the GMB dashboard. One of the most important of those fields in the “category” section.

Find an overview of all the main GMB rankings factors here.

Here’s a deep dive into the GMB category section and numerous examples (because it’s not always as straightforward as it would seem.)

Why Getting Your GMB Categories Right Is So Important

The GMB category is an especially important field because it is a primary keyword for the profile– strongly affecting the rankings, plus it is prominently displayed to users, so it affects how people think about your business.

Primary and Secondary Categories
Let’s talk about the primary and secondary categories first. Google makes you choose at least one main category for your listing. We call this the primary category, although Google doesn’t explicitly call it this.

There are thousands to choose from and you should be able to find one that describes your business. The majority of the time, you will find a match, and in many cases, there will be multiple categories that fit the service you provide. Many businesses stop at one category but depending on your vertical, adding more categories will enhance your chances of being found for related products and services.

Dentists, lawyers, and restaurants are given many choices of categories, for example:

List of Business categories on GMB

Select a first primary category, and then you will be able to select additional categories.

Make sure your primary category reflects the main keyword(s) for which you’re trying to rank.

This first category in your listing is visible to the searcher.

GMB for Dentist highlighting the primary category
The initial category will impact how a searcher first sees your business. Are you a generalist? Or are you a specialist? In most cases, it’s clear and what you want to rank for lines up with what you want the public to see about your business, but not always.

Choosing (and Finding) All Relevant Categories

So how do you find all the categories that make sense for your business?

To be honest, this is a bit of trial and error. When choosing a category for your listing, Google provides a field to type in that will automatically filter depending on what you type.

You’ll need to type in the keywords that make sense for your business and look through the filtered list that appears. It is important to use a few different keywords to make sure you find all of them.

Gif of adding dentist as primary category in GMB with keywords
If you are unsure what category to choose, check what your competitors are using by typing your main keyword into a Google Maps search and investigate the most common profiles. If you are in a less competitive area, perform a search in a large city.

Different Unrelated Categories for the Same Business

So far we have talked about optimizing your listing by choosing as many relevant categories as possible, but it’s much easier when all the categories are related.

Sometimes however, a business provides services or products in unrelated categories.

Fitness store GMB profile

A well-known chain brand in its region, the store in the image above, sells hot tubs, pool supplies, and exercise equipment. Now, pool supplies and exercise equipment are two very different unrelated categories, so how do we optimize a listing when we have this kind of setup?

The first thing to do is to find all the categories that apply using the search filter when choosing categories. Keep typing keyword ideas until you have exhausted all the possible choices.

Now you have to pick one as the main listing and relegate the others to secondary categories. But your choice isnt permanent. If your business is seasonality dependent, then changing your primary category depending on the time would be the optimal way to go.

In the case above, during the Spring/Summer months, they would list Hot Tub Store or Pool Equipment Supplier as the main category, then in the Fall/WInter they would change their main category to Exercise Equipment Equipment Shop. 

To find the optimal timing of the category switch, reviewing the data in your website analytics or using Search Console will certainly help. 

But won’t this confuse Google if categories are not related at all?

The most important thing to do when you have multiple unrelated categories on your GMB listing is to make sure that you have pages on your website (the website that you have chosen in the GMB website field) that deal with all the categories that you have chosen.

To use the example above, their website ideally should have multiple pages on pool supplies, hot tubs, and exercise equipment. This will help the Google algorithm connect all the dots and there will be no detrimental effect to having multiple unrelated categories.

Is there GMB category dilution?

This is a question that people frequently ask. It’s basically the same as the question above, let’s clarify.

There is no negative ranking effect to choosing multiple GMB categories if you have content on your website that matches each category.

Google Category Updates

Google is continuously creating new categories for Google My Business. It is important to regularly check whether a new category that can apply to your business has been introduced. Doing so will give you an immense leg up on your competition who haven’t yet chosen that new category.

If you haven’t recently checked the categories in the GMB dashboard, I encourage you to go to your listing and input a few keywords to see if you are missing any relevant categories.