Posted on July 8, 2013

Google changes its Local Search Categories

The rumors are true, it is happening, in fact, it’s happened. Welcome to the wonderful world of Google where change is the norm and the rest of us scramble to adapt.

Recently ranking in Local Search has become a tad bit more complicated with Google’s roll out of the new Places Dashboard. Google has narrowed the scope of their Google+ Local profile categories, no longer allowing a free form category field where the user could literally type anything they chose as a category. New profiles either created or claimed by the business owner allow up to five separate categories. Previous to the latest Google update, as long as one of the categories was a pre-approved category, Google allowed the owner of the profile to free type any category they chose for the remaining four. For example, for your categories you could have LASIK Surgeon (the pre-approved category) LASIK, and Laser Vision Correction. Since the update only approved category of LASIK Surgeon remains as Google has removed the ability to free form a category. For now profiles created, verified and approved prior to the roll out are still allowed to contain the free form categories. However, as Google begins to roll out their transition to their new places dashboard for existing profiles this wonderful aspect will begin to disappear.

What does this mean for the local business profile owner? Categories that fall outside of the Google approved genre will most likely no longer be factors in ranking. So let’s say you are a practice specializing in glaucoma and cataracts and do not perform LASIK surgery. The only available categories for you now are Surgeon, Physician, and Eye Care Center, severely limiting the ability to categorize your business appropriately. Fortunately there are ways to combat this. Focusing on citations and reviews will strengthen your ranking positions. These are areas a local business should be focusing on anyway, but their importance escalates now that the categories have become severely narrowed.

While this all might seem somewhat vague and possibly even confusing, we are here to walk you through and help you adapt. Contact Glacial Multimedia’s Local Search Specialist Darryl Quinlan at your earliest convenience and we’ll help make it all right.