Adding Categories to Google Business Profile Boosts Local Rankings

Adding Categories to Google Business Profile Boosts Local Rankings

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Even a slight boost in local rankings can lead to thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of dollars in revenue for a multi-location brand, which is why unlocking the secret to achieving higher local rankings is a topline goal for so many organizations in 2023. According to a new study that’s being billed as the most comprehensive study on Google Business Profile (GBP) categories to date, businesses that use one or more additional categories for their Google Business Profiles see a higher average map ranking than those that do not. The study, conducted by BrightLocal, looked at 1,050 business locations across seven primary categories.

Google Business Profiles with the highest average map ranking were those that used four additional categories.

Out of the primary categories studied, BrightLocal’s researchers found that department stores used the most additional categories, with an average of 4.7.

While the results are exciting for multi-location brand marketers, the study’s author, Sammy Paget, says it’s important to remember that correlation is not causation.

“While we cannot say definitively that using additional categories will directly increase your local rankings, this is the first time we can say — backed by data — that there does appear to be a correlation between the two,” Paget says.

Businesses that want to target multiple cities without hurting their SEO have long been told that they should use their Google Business Profiles to get into Google’s Local Pack. Those are the three featured business suggestions that come up on most local searches. The better a company’s online reviews, the higher the chances of that company being featured on Google’s Local Map Pack.

Google Business Profile signals are considered to go hand-in-hand with local rankings, including choosing the most accurate primary business categories. Local search experts also cite adding additional categories as a major ranking factor for Local Pack and Local Finder.

BrightLocal’s study gives hard evidence to that theory, finding a clear relationship between the number of additional categories a business has listed on its Google Business Profile and its local ranking. 

Business owners or listing managers can add up to nine additional categories to support a Google Business Profile.

While there was a broadly positive correlation between top-ranking business locations using more GBP categories for five of the seven category sets analyzed by BrightLocal researchers, Paget notes that there were two areas where the opposite was true: electricians and HVAC contractors. Both of these categories sit within the Service Area Business and Trades industry. 

BrightLocal’s researchers found that the GBPs in the Electrician cohort with five or more additional categories had the lowest average map ranking, while the top two average map rankings were attributed to three and zero additional categories. In those cases, it did not appear that there was a relationship between the use of additional categories and local rankings within this business type.

Paget says there are a few potential theories as to why electricians and HVAC contractors seem to fall out of line with other cohorts when it comes to the impact of adding additional categories to a GBP, but the broader takeaway remains the same.

“Ultimately, choosing categories that are as relevant to your offering as possible will be useful to prospective customers and better match their intent,” Paget says.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.