The visibility of a business in a Google search can be greatly affected by how it is categorized. Google My Business allows business owners to apply one or more categories to their free Business Profile as a way of distinguishing the type of services offered. Choosing and prioritizing the right categories can increase the odds of a business showing up towards the top of the results list, especially with a local search. Business owners should keep the following tips in mind when creating or updating their Business Profile:

The primary category should describe the business as a whole

A company that does roofing, siding, and interior remodeling should categorize itself as “General Contractor” since it encompasses all of the services offered. On the same token, a food establishment that cooks and serves only Chinese cuisine should use the “Chinese Restaurant” category instead of “Asian Restaurant” to avoid getting mixed in with other eateries that do not specialize in Chinese food. This will help increase search ranking and make it easier for customers to find the business that best suits their needs.

If a secondary category applies to your business, use it

Despite Google’s recommendation, adding multiple categories does not appear to affect or “dilute” search results adversely. In fact, including specific services or activities associated with the business can enhance its presence by showing up in more searches. While the primary category should be as general as possible, a secondary category is an opportunity to provide more detail.

Categories are subject to name changes

At one point, the category “dog sitter” was renamed as “dog hostel,” causing confusion among the companies that send out a caretaker to watch Fido in his own home. The name was eventually changed back to “dog sitter,” and those who had adopted the “dog hostel” category had to migrate over to the “kennel” category quickly. Check the category names periodically to make sure they are still accurate and relevant to your business.

Google has the power to add or delete categories

To ensure uniformity and eliminate redundancy, Google My Business users are not allowed to add their own categories. New categories can be added to the list at any time, and the businesses who select them first are more likely to show up high on the search results list. Be on the lookout for any new categories that describe your business more accurately or in more detail. At the same time, Google can delete categories at their own discretion. Keep an eye on the existing categories for your business and try to replace any that might disappear. Companies that were previously using the “veterinary pharmacy” category are now utilizing the “veterinary care” and “pharmacy” categories in the wake of its removal.

As with any other marketing tool, Google My Business has the potential to attract more customers or revenue if it is utilized correctly. Staying up-to-date with the business categories is a simple yet crucial part of keeping your business visible in an ever-changing SEO environment.