How to Pick the Best Google My Business Category: Competitive Research

Learn how to use keyword & competitor research to pick your Google My Business Category

Hey everyone, today we’re gonna go through the process of how to research and find the best category for your Google My Business (GMB) listing. As you might have heard, or if you haven’t heard, one of the most important things to optimize your GMB listing is the category you select for your listing.

If you’re creating a GMB listing from scratch then obviously you want to make sure you are picking the optimized category from the get-go. If you already have a listing and you’re looking to make sure you have the right category selected this is also important.

Watch the video for a much more detailed process and example of how to go through the process with examples.

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1. Do keyword research to understand what your customers are searching for

So one thing we want to do, obviously the first step is to understand what search keywords or queries people would be inputting to find a business like yours. These are the terms where you are hoping your business shows up in the local pack (map pack).

The first thing you want to do is understand what type of business you are, what your business is, as well as what type of services that you provide.

And then you want to make sure that you understand which of those terms has significant search volume. To do this you can use a paid keyword tool, like for example, we’re using Ahrefs Keyword Explorer here for this demonstration. You can also use the free Google Keyword Planner (See here you need a refresher on how to set up Google Keyword Planner). Its a very similar process, no matter the tools, in order to find keywords that have good volume. In addition to volume you want to make sure that the terms are relevant to your business. This will pull up the best results later on.

Just a note, a tool like this (Ahrefs) isnt going to give you too much local data unless you put in a location modifier after the actual keyword terms themselves. So when using a keyword tool like this you can do your keyword research using general keywords and assume it carries out to the local areas, in terms of popularity or search volume of the terms. Or you can actually put in a modifier, but you might get limited data on a bigger tool.

With Google Keyword Planner you can select a specific geographic area to get volumes, but the volume data is a little higher level. Like with everything, there are pros and cons with different tools.

Picking the best Google My Business Category:an example

So what we’re gonna do here as an example of air conditioning.

In Ahrefs we start by entering a general keyword as “air conditioning” into their Keyword Explorer. And then from air conditioning you can see other, related terms, which they call “matching terms.”

This step is to give us a starting point. You will see matching search terms like air conditioning repair, air conditioning service, along with their search volume and other information.

So we can take an appropriate keyword and input it into a Google search. Essentially when you have the keywords you want to use you can go to Google and search for each of those terms. When you search, sometimes you will see that the local map results will show up.

Notice the Google Local Ads

Another thing that we should mention is that for this term, air conditioning repair is a business category that Google includes Local Service Ads on the search results in addition to the local map pack.

Local Service Ads are something to keep in mind as a strategy if you can’t for whatever reason show up in the local map pack, and your business service category is available for Google Local Ads. You may potentially want to put some money into showing up in the Google Local Ads to get in front of your customers.

Exploring the Local Pack for the search term you used

So back to our example, we are doing this video from our office in the lovely Cape Coral (FL) area. So the local pack, as well if you view more, are all going to be in the Cape Coral, Fort Myers area. Because there are quite a few around air conditioning and HVAC companies here (it’s always very hot) most of the companies are actually located in the Cape Coral area. You will also see some from surrounding cities, but mostly from Cape Coral. This is due to the proximity of where the companies are located and where the search is physically being done.

Look at the local map results for the keyword you searched for. Do make sure that you are looking at the organic, local map listing (not the paid ads that say “Ad” on them).

How to do competitive research on your competitor’s listings

From here, you want to do competitive research specifically on your competitors’ Google My Business Map listing. Even more specific, we are looking for their categories for this exercise.

To do this, we use a tool called GMBSpy, which is a Google Chrome extension. You can get that here.

What does it do? When you view each of your competitor’s listings, the GMBSpy extension will tell you the categories that that business has used for their Google My Business listing. It allows you to see the categories easily for each competitor without looking at the source code, etc.

You can click on every single one of them (see the video at 04:48 for how to view the categories using this tool).

Analyzing and Selecting the best Google My Business Category

So when we go through this process we essentially do the following:

  1. Keyword research to find the highest volume most relevant keywords for your business
  2. Input each of those keywords into Google search, and the search will come up with the map results.
  3. Go to the map results and then look at the organic (non-paid) listings. These are the businesses that are the top ranking companies for the keywords you have deemed most critical. These are the ones you want to look at. Look at the top 5 listings in your area.
  4. On an Excel worksheet or in Google Sheets, capture the company name and the categories they use for their GMB listing.
  5. Repeat this for each of the companies for each term you have identified.
  6. Repeat this process for every keyword you have identified as relevant and important (the keywords you want to show up on the local map pack for).

What you have at the end is essentially a list of your top 5 competitors for the 1-3 keywords that are most relevant and important to your business (and of course have high enough volume).

Look for trends and common categories used by your top competitors

On your worksheet you need to analyze the categories that your top competitors are using. As you look at all of them on one sheet you’ll start to see the trends like which category is every one (or most) of the top companies using to show up for the search terms you want to show up for.

If you need help with optimizing your Google My Business Listing or local search optimization then let us know. Also, be sure to sign up for our email list as we are constantly doing helpful video tutorials, articles, free email courses, etc.

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