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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Maps Category Mystery Part I: The Problem

One of the longstanding mysteries in the world of Google Maps is summed up in the question:“Why does my listing not show up in the same category as my competitor?”. There has not been a topic more frequently raised in the Maps Group and one that has been more evasively answered by the Google staff since the dawn of the Local Business Center.

Here is a exchange from July 12, 2006 in the Google Maps for Business Owners Group titled: Wrong Listing Categories that is typical of both the questions asked and the answers that Google has provided.

From: “Google Maps Guide”

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 16:45:43 -0700
Subject: Re: Wrong Listing Catagories
Hi Ian,

Some of the categories appearing on Maps are supplied by third-party data providers, and so they aren’t in the Local Business Center (LBC) yet.

But do use the category suggestion page in the LBC so that we can add it in the

> On 7/12/06, i… wrote:

> > I am an owner of a self catering holiday house in york and I have
> > added my listing to Maps. When i created my listing the only applicable
> > catagory was ‘Travel- bed and breakfast’ and ‘Travel-vacation rental’
> > neither of which are entirly appropriate. I have noticed other listings
> > that appear under a ‘Self catering York’ and wondered . How can access
> > that catagory? Thanks Ian

There have been literally hundreds of similar complaints and similar responses since the inception of the group. There is hardly a week that goes by when the question is not asked and answered multiple times in similar fashion. The only thing that has changed is the ever increasilngly frustrated tone of the person posing the question and possibly the name of the Map’s Guide that answers.

Here are the most recent postings dated Feb 2, 2008 with exactly the same questions and the same answer but 18 months later:

TOPIC: Editing my listing

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sat, Feb 2 2008 9:34 am
From: “”

I have the same problem and the answer in the help section explains
why it happens but does not actually help you. All my competitors are
listed under a category I have no access to and to make things worse
if I type the most basic search term for my business i.e. VET (for
veterinarian or veterinary surgeon) it does not use googles available
categories but uses the unavailable category.

I have suggested the category my competitors use (veterinary surgeons
and practitioners) using the submition process but why would google
add that category when the have a perfectly good category already for
veterinarians. That leaves me out in the cold and unlisted despite
using google correctly.

Perhaps someone can address this issue rather than giving a
patronising answer about how friendly the help center is!

On Jan 30, 7:24 pm, “Maps Guide Sirene”

> Hi there,
> Keep in mind that the Help Center has a lot of great insight to questions
> like these. Be sure to check out the following for information about
> Categories:
> Remember, the Help Center is your friend!
> S.
> On Jan 24, 2008 8:43 AM, sr… wrote:
> > I am a landscape contractor who builds water gardens. There are a
> > number of local “pondbuilders” listed in Google local Under the
> > category “ponds, waterfalls, water gardens, and Fountains”. When I go
> > to the Local business center to edit my business, I find no such
> > category (I’m listed under services). I’ve looked under every category
> > and don’t find anything remotely close. I feel like a dummy because
> > all my competitors seemed to have found how to have list. Can you
> > please help?

How could a problem that causes so many complaints go untended for 18 months? Why have the Map Guides (the names have changed but the answer remains the same) not provided a clear answer? Why have no obvious categories been added to the Local Business Center despite many suggestions? What is it about Google Maps LBC categories that makes this so difficult? And the obvious: Why can’t a business be in the same category as a competitor?

This is the first installment in a 3 part series. Next Google Maps Category Mystery Part II: Backgound.