More than 3 billion searches start on Google every single day. To help all those queries find what they’re after, the search engine introduced Google My Business—a free business profile to help owners take control of their online reputation.
Creating your GMB page not only helps your business get found by potential customers, but it also helps Google categorize and make sense of all the different types of businesses out there. If you’re a local business owner, it’s more important than ever to fill out your listing completely and accurately so searches that start on Google can end at your business.
What Are Google My Business Categories
Google My Business categories are classifications used to group businesses with similar characteristics. The different categories help the search engine define when to show a business based on a user’s search.
If you’re creating a new Google My Business page from scratch, you’ll be asked to select a category during the initial setup process. If you already have a GMB page, it’s easy to edit the category from your dashboard.
How to Edit Google My Business Categories
To add or edit Google My Business categories, you’ll need to:
- Sign in to Google My Business
- Select “Info” from the left-hand navigation
- Select the pencil directly under you business name
Choosing a category and subcategory that accurately describe your business could literally put you on the map, since Google My Business is directly tied to Google Maps. But with more than 2,000 categories to choose from, how do you know which category is right for your business?
How to Choose the Right Category for Your Business
Google provides the following guidelines for choosing the correct category for your business.
“Categories describe what your business is, not what it does or sells.”
Remember, your category should be as specific as possible. So it would be better to choose “nail salon” over “salon” if you primarily do nails. If, for example, you owned a salon with several services, then you would choose “salon” as the primary category and use sub-categories to describe additional service offerings. If you’re still confused, these examples from Google might help.
- “Papa John’s” offers pizza takeout and delivery but does not offer on-premises dining. It should use the category “Pizza Delivery” and additional category “Pizza Takeout” (instead of the less specific “Delivery Restaurant” or “Takeout Restaurant”).
- “Navy Federal Credit Union” should use the category “Federal Credit Union” (rather than the less specific “Bank”).
- “Super 8” is a motel with an onsite swimming pool. It should use the category “Motel” rather than “Hotel” and should not include “Swimming Pool” as a category.
- “24 Hour Fitness” should choose the category “Health Club” (and not its amenities “Gym” or “Swimming Pool”).
- “A1 Check Cashing” should use the category “Check Cashing Service” (rather than the less specific “Banking and Finance”).
- “Wendy’s” is a fast food hamburger restaurant that also offers some desserts on its menu. “Wendy’s” should choose the category “Fast Food Restaurant”, and the additional category “Hamburger Restaurant”, but not use the category “Dessert Restaurant”.
With these examples in mind, hopefully it’s becoming clearer how to choose the right category for your business. In addition to these examples, Google also lists a few more guidelines for accurately categorizing businesses that fall outside normal circumstances.
What if my business is located within another business?
If your business is co-located with an unrelated business, like a Starbucks inside of a Barnes & Noble, then each business would create a unique Google My Business page and categorize them accordingly.
If your business is co-located with a related business, like a Walmart Vision Center within Walmart, then it would be appropriate to create two unique Google My Business pages, if the businesses operate independently.
What if a Google My Business category doesn’t exist?
If you don’t see a category that accurately describes your business, for example a retailer who sells unmanned aerial vehicles, then Google recommends choosing a broader description, like retailer.
What if I have multiple locations for a single business?
If you have multiple locations for a single business, like a doctor or an Orthodontist with multiple offices, then you should create multiple locations within a single Google My Business organization.
Alternatively, if there are multiple practitioners at a single location, like a hospital or law firm, then the organization should create a single Google My Business listing and use sub-categories to describe the various specialties.
For the majority of business owners, finding the right category is quick and easy. Your business has likely operated within a single category for several years, and it will be obvious where you belong. If you’re unsure which category is right, here’s the complete list of more than 2,000 Google My Business categories to choose from.
Benefits of Google My Business Categories
Believe it or not, Google wants to send you customers. They’ve created Google My Business pages to give local businesses an online presence that’s easy to set up, and easy for Google’s technology to interpret. Categories are another way that Google classifies businesses.
By choosing an accurate category, you’ll be making it easier to find your business. According to Moz, categorization has also been cited as a local search ranking factor. But it doesn’t just benefit Google.
If Google My Business is up-to-date and complete, you’ll show up on Google Maps when potential customers search for a local business like yours. Outside of Google, maintaining consistent and accurate business information will help people find you on the top review sites and improve your online reputation.