How to Choose the Right Category for Your Google Places Listing

[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

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A Google Places listing is an ideal web marketing tool for your business.  However, it is not as simple as just completing your business information and publishing your page.  You must put some time and effort into optimizing your page for maximum search engine potency, down to every last detail.  One mistake people make when setting up their Google Places listings is rushing through the setup process without putting ample research into their decision-making when it comes to things like keywords and other search engine optimization (SEO) factors.  For example, Google allows you to choose a number of business categories to associate your listing with.  While it may be tempting to just choose what you think are decent fits and get on with it, the truth is that your business categories have a lot to do with how many visitors your Google Places page attracts.  Therefore, you need to know how to make the best decision for your business needs.  How do you do that?  Here is a guide for how to choose the right category for your Google Places listing:

Creating your own versus using Google’s categories.  Google does allow you the option of creating your own business categories.  However, it is generally not advisable to do this, as Google’s categories list is full of keyword phrases that are proven to be effective when it comes to search engine rankings.

Make a list of possible choices.  Access Google’s categories list from your Google Places Account link and scroll the entire list of category options.  This may take some time, but it is worth it.  Make a running list of each and every category your business may fall under.  Sure, you’re not going to use all of these, but you want as many as possible before moving on to the research step.  Be creative.  For example, if you are a bakery, you may also run a catering service, or even do cake decorating.

Research the categories on your list.  What you are looking for are the strongest, most search engine relevant categories.  Use a keyword research tool (like the free Google Adwords tool, found online) to identify which categories are strongest in terms of search volume (local monthly searches) and competition.

Analyze the data from your research.  Compare all of your potential categories side by side and narrow your list down to the strongest.

Choose your categories.  From your narrowed down list, choose a couple of strong categories that are in line with your business purpose.

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