What GMB Categories Should You Be Using?
Google My Business (GMB) has always been one of the most important places on the internet for up to date, accurate data about your company. Now, as Google aggressively rolls out new GMB features on a regular basis, it’s importance and prominence only continues to grow. At Energy Circle, we’re seeing more and more interaction by your potential clients directly from the Google Knowledge Panel (where the GMB data is displayed.) It is clear that Google has aggressive goals for GMB, and our view, based on the data, is that it is a force that needs to be reckoned with.
Having a complete GMB profile is not only important for your “online storefront” but also helps tell Google which services you offer to show when people search. The key part of your GMB profile which tells Google which services you offer is GMB categories.
What are Google My Business categories?
GMB categories are used to help users find accurate results for services they are interested in.
Princeton Air has listed themselves as an Air Conditioning Contractor for their GMB category.
Google states the following when it comes to categories:
Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.
Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.
Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
Select categories that complete the statement:
"This business IS a" rather than "this business HAS a ."
Your primary category should be the clearest description of what you offer. For solar, options are Solar Energy Company and Solar Energy Contractor. For HVAC or home performance, it’s not that clear. Options for these industries include, but are not limited to, HVAC Contractor, Insulation Contractor, Air Conditioning Contractor, Heating Contractor, Window Installation Service, Plumber, Mechanical Contractor, Air Conditioning Repair Service, Plumber and Furnace Repair Service.
Google also does some behind-the-scenes work to include services that are more general, so it’s good to be as specific as possible for your primary category. For example, Princeton Air was correct to choose Air Conditioning Contractor as their primary category as it answer’s Google’s statement of “This business IS an Air Conditioning Contractor.” Google may implicitly include more general categories, like contractor, if it believes your company fits the user query based on your GMB page, your website and mentions of you across the web.
So which category should you choose?
For solar companies, the primary category is likely going to be Solar Energy Contractor, as Google may add broader categories like Solar Energy Company. For HVAC or Home Performance companies, it’s not as easily discernible. A commercial HVAC company is the simplest, as HVAC Contractor is a category option. However, where the term HVAC has traditionally been focused on commercial heating and cooling, if you are a residential heating & cooling company, it’s not as straightforward.
Unfortunately, Home Performance companies get the short end of the stick when it comes to GMB categories. Many Home Performance companies focus on the whole-home approach, and their primary service is energy audits. Energy Auditor is not a category in Google My Business, but Auditor is. However, it does NOT mean energy auditor. It is referring to financial auditors only. So what should a home performance company use? Consider the primary retrofit service offered. This may be Insulation Contractor or it may be Heating Contractor, but if you offer other services in similar fashion to your primary category, consider adding those as additional categories. Luckily, Google My Business allows for multiple categories, and you can change these at your leisure.
Below is a list of some of the possible categories to select in GMB:
Air Conditioning Contractor
Air Conditioning Repair Service
Heating Equipment Supplier
Heating Oil Supplier
Furnace Parts Supplier
Furnace Repair Service
Window Installation Service
Solar Energy Contractor
Solar Energy Equipment Supplier
Solar Energy Company
Custom Home Builder
Change your categories seasonally
Since you can change GMB categories, home performance or heating & cooling companies should select the one that is your primary service for the season. For example, in the mid-atlantic, Air Conditioning Contractor should be the primary category for a residential heating and cooling company in the summer, and Heating Contractor should be the primary category for a residential heating & cooling company in the winter. You should, however, list the other services as additional categories. For example, if you do heating, cooling, insulation and plumbing, select one as your primary, and select the other corresponding categories as additional categories.
How to add or update your GMB categories
Adding or updating a category in Google My Business is simple. Log in to GMB and select your location. On the left panel, click Info. Click the pencil icon next to the category section and then fill out the primary and any additional categories. There are a lot of possible categories, and you need to start typing them to find them. In the primary and/or additional categories, start typing and then select the categories most relevant to your business.
Pro-Tip: Competitor Categories
Curious about what categories your top competitors are using? Search for your competitor on Google Maps and then right-click and hit View Page Source on the knowledge panel.
A new tab will likely open with a lot of gibberish (code). Use Control +f to use the Find feature. Start typing the category that the company listed on their knowledge panel (their primary category). If multiple results are returned, click the down arrow to go to the second placement of the category. If your competitor has selected multiple additional categories, they will be listed here!
In the above example, you see Air Conditioning Repair Service, Air Duct Cleaning Service among others listed as additional categories.
Why it matters
Google is the MOAD (mother-of-all-digital). From searches and SEO to AdWords and Tag Manager, Google runs the show, and we must play by her rules. Having your categories in place is just one step in the larger game of Google, and understanding what your competitors are doing is a great place to start.