Google Category Tool Updated

We have updated the Google Places Category Tool with a “dump” of current categories and synonyms.

From the last time we updated the data a year ago, Google deleted 170 categories and 1922 synonyms, leaving exactly 1900 primary categories in the list. Most of the deleted categories were plural duplicates of existing categories. I.E. “Surgeons” was deleted as a stand alone category and added as a synonym to the category “Surgeon”. For the compulsive amongst you here is the list of deleted categories and synonyms.

In that timeframe Google has also added only three new categories; Airport , Car Sharing Location and Electric Vehicle Charging Station. They also added 11 new synonyms; airport, international airport, international, flights, arrivals, intl, int, aeropuerto, air port, flughafen.

To search the current Google categories go to our Google Places Category Tool. To see all categories as an HTML page go here. For those of you outside of the U.S. we hope to have the other language categories added shortly.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Category Tool Updated by

25 thoughts on “Google Category Tool Updated”

  1. Mike, has Google removed the option to add custom categories? I was setting up a Places listing for a client last week and the only options I had were what was in Google’s suggested drop downs

  2. It was a Canadian listing, but I was doing it through instead of .ca. In the past, by using the .com I’ve been able to add custom categories to Canadian listings.

    Will try in another browser and see what happens. Pretty sure I was in Chrome, my default browser for logging into clients’ G accounts.

  3. Well, thank goodness for flughafen! I knew something was missing until now.

    Thanks of updating this, Mike. I use your category tool every time I create a Place Page and it is so helpful.

    Speaking of categories, that brings up a question I’d like to see covered. Google gives the option to add 5 categories. How, exactly, is it that spammers spam categories so that they have many more than 5? I’ve never understood this or seen a technical explanation of it.

  4. Once again Mike, you are a lifesaver. I had been seeing a number of categories disappear over the last few weeks which has caused me to make some adjustments to what terms Google likes and dislikes for my clients, but this definitely saves me a lot of busy work tracking down the definite list. I appreciate the early Christmas Gift! THANK YOU!

    1. @thebird79

      You are welcome. I had heard noises of missing categories and realized I had not run an update in a while. In the future, if you catch missing categories before my update, let me know and I will run an update.

  5. @Miriam
    There are multiple ways to skin a cat and Stever’s is one. The other was a creative use of Google’s merging algo… you could claim a second listing into your account, change NAP to be identical and add additional categories. When the records would merge, both sets of categories would still be there.

  6. Mike, Great article as always! I think the inability to create a custom category may lead some of us dentists to illegal advertising methods. Many of us use a category of a specialist to describe the services we offer. It is illegal in the state of VA to represent yourself as periodontist if you aren’t one, but many people use this category because they provide dental implants. The same thing goes with orthodontists and pedodontists. I know the categories are supposed to describe who you are, not what you do, but some of these restrictions could cause real world legal woes.

  7. “…you could claim a second listing into your account, change NAP to be identical and add additional categories. When the records would merge, both sets of categories would still be there.”

    That is a very interesting tip, thanks Mike 🙂

  8. @Miriam….re: “…4.Well, thank goodness for flughafen!…”

    LOL! my thoughts here exactly…..

    @Stever – not a prob for us to add customs here in – we added 2 new clients last week and they both accepted custom cats…..



  9. thanks for this tool Mike!

    really looks like a time-saver and a good way to stay in Google’s good graces…

    In using this tool, regarding the synonyms…
    Would the best practice be in adding a single synonym from the tool as it’s own category?
    OR are the synonyms to be combined with the root category to create a unique category?

    Google Category = Estate Planning Attorney
    Synonym = lawyer

    So is it…
    Category #1 = Estate Planning Attorney
    Category #2 = Estate Planning Lawyer
    Category #2 = Lawyer

    Just curious as to the best implementation of the synonyms

    thanks again for a great tool and for your contributions Mike!


  10. @Mike

    Thanks for the update. 🙂

    And for all you schlubs who use Mike’s homework (aka blog) to improve your lot in Local Search, hit that ‘donate to my favorite charity’ button and pull out your credit card en route to your category queries. 😉 I promise you’ll feel good.

  11. @Cathy


    You misinterpret the role of the synonyms… they are scraped from Google. If when in the Places Dashboard, you enter one of the synonyms the associated category will be suggested.

    I am not suggesting that you use them or not. You should pick categories based on your keyword research and other factors. I assume synonyms reflect Google’s understanding of searcher behaviors and perhaps are mapped to the categories but may or may not make for good categories themselves.

  12. @Sheldon, you can see Google’s synonym matching at play in the search results. An example; Car detailing is the common search phrase while auto detailing is the suggested category. Search for car detailing in your city and the words that get bolded in the search results is often the auto version, even when a result also has the car term included as well.

    Rankings however, with new blended local organic results is based primarily, if not solely, on organic factors. So on-site try to focus more on the more commonly used search phrase, (lawyer vs attorney) where appropriate but in G places use whatever suggested category they give you. Repeating synonyms in your categories likely to not matter much now in blended results. It did matter quite a bit in old 7pack results that were disconnected from organic results.

  13. @Sheldon, synonym searches, or common used term searches, may have regional differences. Use Google Insights tool at country and state level to see which variant is most commonly used.

    For example, Canadians search for lawyers while Americans search for attorneys.

    But it also differs by the types of law too. DUI law sees a near 50-50 ratio of the lawyer – attorney terms in some states. Other types of law see a very significant favoring of the attorney term in most states.

    Of course you’d want to rank for both variants, but pick your battles where and when you can as you work your way up the ladder.

  14. @Jeanne

    Sometimes it just takes time for the display in Places to catch up. Sometimes the listing is claimed in another account as well and Google is giving that other account preference and sometimes, because you don’t fill in all 5 categories it grabs them from other places.

  15. Hi Mike!

    A quick question regarding your category tool. I use it quite often to do my best to stay within the confines of good category selection (as per the guidelines etc)…

    Is the tool updated (perhaps in real-time) along with any potential category additions/changes Google may make in their system?

    just want to make sure I don’t miss any synonyms/category possibilities…

    thanks again for supplying such a handy little tool!

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