Choosing the Right Google Local SEO Categories Part 2

by Alex Bungener

One seemingly trivial aspect of Google local SEO is selecting the right business categories for your Google+ local listing. We have covered some important steps in Part 1 and now continue with some more in this second part.

Use Mike Blumenthal’s Google Places Category Tool.

In the previous article I have mentioned that one reason why choosing categories for your business can be quite difficult is because Google does not give you its complete list of categories. Google will simply give you a few samples or choices which are often not really representative of your business.

Mike Blumenthal, the Google Places guru and Co-founder of Local University has come up with a practical solution. He offers a free tool which will give you Google’s complete list of business categories. Mike Blumenthal’s Google Places Category tool is easy to use. Simply type in part or all of your prospective categories and select the country or language you are targeting. A window will then pop up to show you all the business categories which are currently listed by Google and which are related to the search terms you have just typed in.

If you want to look at the complete list of Google categories for ALL local businesses, simply leave the search bar blank and just select a country or language. Many have found this tool extremely helpful in deciding on what categories to choose for their businesses.

Check your stats.

Your Google Analytics data as well as your Google Places dashboard will furnish you valuable information on how well your business categories are performing. For example: If you have selected “nail salon” as your custom category for your Google+ local listing and yet statistics from your Google Analytics and Google Places show that your chosen category has not fetched any visitors to your site or Places page, what does it tell you?—That it might be time to select another business category.

Be careful about spellings and abbreviations.

Make sure your custom categories are all spelled correctly and are not abbreviated. There are exceptions though, as there may be abbreviations which are frequently used as search terms—such as Google local SEO for example.

Do not be redundant.

Put in mind that Google will not like it if your custom categories are too similar to the other categories you have selected. A case in point is when you choose two almost identical custom categories, like “dentist” and “dentists” for instance. In this case, where one is simply the plural term of the other and therefore mean the exact same thing, you will likely be ranked lower by Google.

This is also true in cases where you select custom categories which have very little difference: “aircon repair” and “aircon maintenance” for example. Google (and any person for that matter) will know that both mean the same thing. Google usually penalizes redundancy. Experts say it is better to lump the two together into “aircon maintenance and repair” rather than break them into 2 separate but very similar categories. What we think works doesn’t really matter — what matters is the way Google thinks — if you want to optimize your Google local SEO.

Check to see if your custom categories bring up Google Places results page.

The whole point of having your business listed in Google+ local and having it under the right business categories is to improve or optimize your Google local SEO so that your site becomes visible in local searches. To check if your custom categories are really working towards that end, type in your custom categories in the Google search bar and see if a Google Places results page comes up. Example: the custom category “sedation dentist” may bring up the Google Places results page but “nitrous oxide dentist” will not.

To start from the beginning in our Google local SEO educational series please visit our Google local SEO blog. We will be adding more post each week as we have barely scratched the surface so far.

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