Your business is special — it’s uniquely your own and no one knows it better than you.
But let’s face it, there are other businesses out there that offer similar services or products. You might be the best in your particular field, or you might have a top-secret, special recipe, but at the crux of things you fall into a certain bucket or business category.
In an effort to create some structure in the great, wide world of the Web, Internet companies like Yelp® and Google® have worked to create universal business categories. These categories help people searching for specific products and services online better find what they are searching for — so it’s incredibly important that businesses identify which categories describe their products or services.
Let’s think about categories on the Internet like sections in a library or bookstore. As a bookstore will group all science fiction books together, sites like Yelp and Google will categorize businesses by the type of service they provide. For example, all restaurants that serve Chinese food belong in the same category and sub-category: Restaurant, Chinese. This helps folks searching for Chinese food easily pinpoint the restaurants in their area that offer this type of cuisine.
Search engines love categories.
Another added perk to having your business accurately categorized on top sites is that search engines love categories. The more structured information about your business online, the more likely you are to show up higher on Google, Bing® and other search engines.
So how do you add or change your business category?
Google, Foursquare® and YP.com® (formerly Yellow Pages) let businesses claim their business listing on the Internet. Once you claim your listing, you can add your business category or evaluate and edit the pre-populated categories. Other services — including GoDaddy’s Get Found product — enable business owners to enter information about themselves (such as business categories) in one place and then they’ll publish that information on top sites all across the Web.
How to select your business category
1. Select your primary category. Your primary business category is the main umbrella your business falls under. This is your business’s key expertise or core competency. Examples of these primary categories include restaurants, event planning services and professional services.
2. Select secondary and tertiary categories. After you have selected your primary category, select two to three additional sub-categories that represent your business. Examples of these include Chinese cuisine, wedding planning and law office. The more accurate these sub-categories are, the better chance you’ll show up when someone searches for your specific service or product.
3. Don’t select too many categories. It might seem useful to select every category that your business could possibly fall into, but this is a mistake. The more categories you select, the more confusing your business appears for customers and search engines. So keep it simple; only select three to four categories that describe your core services.
It’s all about making it easy
Structure is important. Imagine how irked you’d be if on your next visit to the local library all the books were jumbled together without rhyme or reason. Finding writings by Zeno of Citium for your almost overdue philosophy paper would be like searching for a specific column in Athens without a street address — or even the name of the neighborhood.
So make it easy for people searching the Web for services like yours. Embrace these third-party websites that are attempting to categorize your business. Like the Dewey Decimal System-loving librarians who make trips to the library a breeze, these sites are simply organizing the Web to make it easier for your customers to find you.