The Anatomy of Business Categories
Google uses the terms “Local Business Categories” to accurately describe your business to potential customers. Even more, they want you to have ample opportunity to grab e-commerce, so they allow you to choose up to 10 categories for each Google My Business listing. Failure to adequately categorize your company can significantly impair your ability to grow business.
Why Accurate Categorization Matters
Clear classification is so crucial that Google has an entire section in its guidelines devoted to it. It advises you to:
- Use as few categories as possible to describe your company.
- Be specific but true to your core business.
- Categories shouldn’t be used as keywords to describe qualities of your business.
- Stay away from categories associated with nearby or related businesses (like a smaller business contained within your business or a parent business).
Categorization and Ranking
If you don’t already know, larger search engines use information from local business listings to find, organize, and display your business to users. So, local listings influence SEO and vice versa. In fact, categories provide one of the most important ranking elements in Google searches.
Finding the Perfect Categories
Unless your business inhabits a particularly unique niche, you should be able to find relevant categories. Try to clarify the specific nature of your company and its services and browse Google’s list for similarities. For example, a check-cashing company would be most clearly described as a “Check Cashing Service” rather than the more broadly termed sector, “Banking and Finance.”
The point is to direct, not mislead (even unintentionally). As another example, Chick-fil-A sells fast-food chicken, but it’s also known for seasonal shakes. It should classify as “Fast Food Restaurant” but not “Dessert Restaurant.”
Business Category Ambiguity
Understanding Google Business Categories doesn’t come without confusion, and many business owners struggle with perceived inconsistencies. Namely, why Google allows you to choose up to 10 categories but asks you to use as few as possible. Although this idea has been discussed on both sides, SEO experts have said there’s little evidence that fewer categories helps your ranking.
The more important rule to remember, it seems, involves specific vs. general categories. The more distinct you can be, the better. And most notably, avoid redundancy. For example, don’t choose both “New Car Dealer” and “Hyundai Dealer.” They both imply a car dealership. If you own an Italian Restaurant that has a bakery section, on the other hand, feel free to use “Italian Restaurant” and “Bakery” because the designations are more distinct.
Since local business listings provide a solid foundation for SEO ranking and attracting new e-commerce, don’t fail to expertly reveal your business to potential customers.
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