Choosing the Right Categories for your Google Local SEO—Part 1

by Alex Bungener

One of the things you must do in getting your business Google local SEO optimized and listed on the Google+ local listing is to carefully choose the categories for your business. Google+ local listings allow you to choose up to 5 categories for your business, which may sound easy enough but in reality can be quite tricky.

You see, Google will not furnish you a complete list of the categories, in which case the task would have been as easy as clicking the best 5 that you see. Google only gives you a short list which is based on the terms you have typed in.

The categories you choose for your business can either make or break your Google local SEO chances for getting into the Lucky 7 in Google+ local. Choosing the right categories is critically important as it could mean reaching the maximum number of customers in your target area.

In a nutshell, though, the categories you choose for your business should all conform to the Google+ Local quality guidelines for local listings. Here are the best Google local SEO practices in choosing categories for your business:

1. Choose business categories which describe what your business is and not what it sells or does. Your categories should point to the nature of your business and not to your products or services. For example, if your business is a veterinarian clinic, you should not key in the term “dog vaccinations” which are simply services. Neither should you enter “dog vaccines” as these are mere products.

2. Choose up to 5 relevant categories. Why 5? Because 5 is the maximum number of categories Google allows and you are not making the most of that allowance if you only pick 3. Be very careful also that your categories are relevant. When first drawing up your list of business categories however, list down as many as you can and just fine-tune your selection further with the steps below. Do not fill in all 5 slots just to fill them in. Best to have an empty slot or two than to have inappropriate categories. Google can ding a listing if the categories are a stretch.

3. Learn from your higher-ranked competitors. Look at how your better-ranking competitors chose their categories because chances are that their choice of categories is one factor which accounts for their higher ranking. Simply head on to the Google Places pages of your competitors, look at the top 2 or 3in the list, take note of the categories they chose for their businesses and consider choosing the same categories.

4. Use Google Keyword Tool. As you may probably have heard, Google’s free Keyword Tool tells you what terms online searchers generally use. Logically then, this tool can also be used to assess the local popularity of your tentative list of business categories. Simply key in the business categories you have in your list and choose the ones which have the highest monthly searches for a particular locality.

5. Your first 3 categories should better be the best. Understand that although Google allows you up to 5 categories for your business listing, only 3 of these 5 categories will be shown on the results page in online searches. Therefore, the first three categories you choose must be the ones that your potential clients are looking for.

Next we will continue this topic of categories and Google local SEO. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions.

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