Business Categories Lists for Major Local Search Sites

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Categories are the forgotten child of local SEO.

Though they don’t get much attention, categories do get respect: “Proper Category Associations” is the #1 “Foundational Ranking Factor” listed on 2013’s Local Search Ranking Factors study.  (I was one of the people who ranked them up there, and I’m glad other local-searchers agree.)

Picking as many relevant categories as you can is probably the easiest way to make progress on your Google+ Local, Bing Places, Apple Maps, Yelp, and other rankings.

Choosing the right ones is sometimes easier said than done.  Google no longer allows “custom” categories.  That’s nice in a couple of ways: You can choose up to 10 categories, and it’s nice that it’s much harder now to get penalized by accidentally specifying a custom category that Google doesn’t consider kosher.

Still, the categories you want to pick are either on Google’s list or they aren’t.  Which may leave you feeling hamstrung if your business is specialized or “niche.”

Fortunately for us, the categories you can pick on other sites seem to help Google determine what type of business yours is – and what terms you should rank for.

They’re also a huge factor in your rankings on pretty much every other site worth being listed on.

The name of the game is to know your options for categories, on as many sites as possible.  Most of them don’t make it easy to browse all your options.  That’s why I’ve rounded up a bunch of category lists, so you can find the relevant ones easily.

Check out these lists and see if you’ve listed your business under the best categories possible:

Search engines

Google – Browse Mike Blumenthal’s Google Places Category Tool

Bing Places – See my list of Bing business categories (new)

Apple Maps – Dig through this monstrous list put together by Andrew Shotland

Data-aggregators

ExpressUpdate – Pick from OSHA’s Standard Industrial Categories

LocalEze – See my post on LocalEze categories

Factual – Refer to this list when submitting your Factual listing

IYPs

Yelp – Dig through Yelp’s somewhat-buried list, or see my post on Yelp categories

InsiderPages – See this

AngiesList – Here you go

Those are just the category lists I’ve found so far or put together myself.  I’m sure you or I could easily find full lists of categories for rinky-dink sites that nobody’s ever heard of.  But there are a few category lists I’d still like to have.

The sites on my wish-list at the moment are CitySearch, YellowPages, Local.Yahoo.com, and Acxiom (MyBusinessListingManager.com).  Please let me know if you find or make a list of all the categories allowed on those sites!

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Comments

  1. Hey Phil,

    Great compilation you’ve got there! I had referred previously a number of times to your LocalEze and ExpressUpdate categories lists and they’ve both proven to be very useful. All in all, it is really great to have all this at the same place.

    And check out what I found while digging in the CityGrid API:

    http://docs.citygridmedia.com/download/attachments/1146942/tags.json
    http://docs.citygridmedia.com/download/attachments/1146942/tags_hierarchy.json

    I hope these are useful!

    Nyagoslav

  2. Handy lists. Any ideas how to get categories added to these sites? It really is ridiculous that we live in a day of technology and change every day yet no new categories are ever added. It’s been like 15 years now that there are garage storage and organization people for instance. They don’t build garages, they don’t organize other parts of the home, nor repair garage doors, they don’t build closets or cabinets for the kitchen. Just one example.

    Seems like the move to no custom categories should warrant a punch in the face to Google. Not like there is a place to submit new category ideas. Hey but our next best option is to use these lists so thanks for sharing.

    • I agree. It’s a shame that what you see is pretty much what you get. In particular, that’s been my gripe with Google’s categories, ever since I learned the custom categories are going away.

  3. Hey thanks Phil for trying to ease the pain.

  4. Phil,

    Once again you’ve gone above and beyond in creating an extremely helpful resource!
    This will really speed up citation building for clients with uncommon services!

    What tips do you have for people to find the best possible category for an uncommon business?

    • Thanks, Benjamin.

      My advice for if you have a business in an “uncommon” category:

      1. Scour all your category options and pick the closest-fitting ones. Doing this on your Google+ Local listing is just the beginning; of course, you’ll also want to scour the category lists of the other sites I mentioned.

      2. Take the time to fill in the “keywords,” “services,” or “tags” (or similarly named) fields on all your listings, as permitted. I’ve seen Google scrape those fields and haul them into the MapMaker categories record (which you can see if you go to any given Google listing and click the “Edit details” link).

      3. Have a landing page for each specific service you offer / category your business falls into. I suggest doing this anyway, because it’s worth trying to snag local-organic rankings wherever possible – especially for more-specific, potentially longer-tail search terms, because the people who type those into Google might be pretty far along in the buying process.

      By the way, I really like the post you just did on citation sources.

  5. avatar Heather Webb says:

    I am an account manager that is trying to help some of my co-workers in our small office here in Tenn. I am interested in learning about the category/keyword restrictions on marijuana dispensaries. Your advice and links are the only ones that have helped me in my search thus far so I figured I would ask. Any advice or help with this matter wil be greatly appreciated.

    • Good question, Heather. That’s uncharted territory.

      Any Colorado folks care to chime in? :)

      • avatar Heather Webb says:

        Thank you so much for answering my question in such a timely manner. I am very interested in learning more about the opportunities this new law has in store for online advertising. I understand mass media marketing isn’t being allowed at this point, but I have seen Google+ Pages w/ pictures of cannabis and I know from the tools I use at work that their listings are being picked up by Yahoo, Yelp, Google .. I haven’t found one on Bing yet, but I could be mistaken. The only categories I’ve come across have been Doctors, Pharmacy, and Clinics. I’ve only researched four as of yesterday/this morning. Again, thank you and I hope to hear from anyone who knows more about this!

        • It may be a while before there are weed-friendly categories. Mentioning it in reviews may also be a red flag. It’s going to come down to a few things: on-page optimization, getting industry-specific citations, and maybe a couple of links from “authorities.”

          • avatar Heather Webb says:

            OK. Thank you Phil. What about programs that work them up on Google etc. through basic SEO like having their NAP synchronized? Do you believe that would benefit these retailers and clinics?

          • I’m not sure what you mean, Heather. Feel free to break that down for me a little.

  6. avatar Heather Webb says:

    Sorry, I guess what I mean is “Would these centers benefit from any kind of online programs right now?” I know a lot is a gray area, but what about basic SEO – Name, Address and Phone# There are over 380 of them in Denver alone and nearly 150 in Boulder. I partner with the Google Display network – but we have very simple, inexpensive Local Seaarch programs in place as well. I just am a little skittish about it because I handle attorneys in a few different states. I know after learning the ends and outs of the “legalities” of their banners that this is not as cut n dry as people think. I suppose I just need to wait and see what unfolds for them. Sorry for the confusion.

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  1. […] second step is also pretty simple: Beef up those pages as much as possible.  First and foremost, pick every relevant category you can.  Add as much relevant “additional” info as you can: a short description, a long […]

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