Category Archives: Local Search

Comparing Google Local and Acxiom Categories

The Google Local Business Center offers advertisers a way to geographically authenticate themselves and then select an appropriate category for their business listing.

Google Maps takes data from various sources including Acxiom which provides data for many of the phone directory type websites.

Taking a look at the categories available categories on (which is powered by the Acxiom database), it’s immediately obvious that there’s more than the 520 listed in Google Maps. After looking 3 levels deep (many main categories go 4 levels deep), for the Pittsburgh region, I came up with just under 1,800 categories.

Some of the Acxiom categories do not map well, or are completely missing from what’s in the Google Local Business Center (LBC). Let’s look at a few examples:

GLBC is completely missing the entire main Agriculture category, which consists of at least 35, some of which include:

Agriculture – Agricultural-Crops
Agriculture – Agricultural-Crops – Agricultural-Chemicals-Pesticides
Agriculture – Animals
Agriculture – Animals – Birds
Agriculture – Animals – Specialty-Animal-Services
Agriculture – Farm-Equipment
Agriculture – Farm-Equipment – Dairy-Farm-Equipment
Agriculture – Farm-Equipment – Feeders-Automatic-Animal-Fish
Agriculture – Farm-Equipment – Irrigation-Systems-Equipment
Agriculture – Farm-Equipment – Tractors-Equipment-Supplies
Agriculture – Farms

The Business section is structured differently with GLBC having a Business To Business and Services main categories, while Acxiom has a more extensive Business Services category.

GLBC has 8 categories for Real Estate, while Acxiom has at least 26:

Real Estate
Real Estate – Agents & Realtors
Real Estate – Apartment Buildings & Complexes
Real Estate – Appraisers
Real Estate – Commercial
Real Estate – Home Inspection
Real Estate – Property Management
Real Estate – Surveyors

Real-Estate – Commercial-Industrial
Real-Estate – Commercial-Industrial – Buildings
Real-Estate – Commercial-Industrial – Commercial-Industrial-Real-Estate-Companies
Real-Estate – Commercial-Industrial – Commercial-Industrial-Rental-Leasing
Real-Estate – Commercial-Industrial – Real-Property-Lessors
Real-Estate – General
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Apartment-Building-Operators
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Cemetery-Subdividers-Developers
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Land-Subdividers-Developers
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Mortgage-Companies
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Nonresidential-Building-Operators
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Operators-Of-Residential-Mobile-Home-Sites
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Professional-Relocation-Services
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Property-Maintenance-Services
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Property-Management
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Property-Operation-Retail-Establishments
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Real-Estate-Agents-Brokers
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Real-Estate-Appraisers-Consulting-Services
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Real-Estate-Managers
Real-Estate – Real-Estate-Services – Title-Abstract-Companies
Real-Estate – Residential
Real-Estate – Residential – Modular-Mobile-Homes-Sales-Service
Real-Estate – Residential – Residential-Apartments
Real-Estate – Residential – Residential-Real-Estate-Companies

I believe that to provide the best overall experience for the user and advertiser, the two (and possibly other) systems need to be merged and use one set of categories. I don’t mind which one Google prefers, but from an advertiser point of view, I want to be consistent in how I present my company within Google AdWords local ads, Google Local Business Center and listings on Maps. Just give me one place where I can edit my company name, description and other relevant information.

From Google’s point of view, I would expect them to push all businesses through AdWords for the local ads. This would give them the chance to upsell the business to use national cpc advertising, as well as content targeting, mobile and offline ads. I think we’re going to see some interesting things happen with local in 2007.

Google LBC Categories

Edit (Aug 25 2009)
I haven’t kept track of how Google handles categories in their Local Business Center for quite a while. I just received a great email from Maxou in France letting me know that Google’s method to select business categories has changed, you can now enter your own category in a text field. More details are here at Search Engine Roundtable:

Below is my original post from Feb 2007:

Here’s a list of categories taken from the Google Local Business Center. These categories appear when you’re trying to classify your business for a listing within

Business to Business
Business to Business – Machine Shops
Business to Business – Manufacturers
Business to Business – Wholesalers
Education – Beauty Schools
Education – Charter Schools
Education – Colleges & Universities
Education – Computer Training
Education – Driving Schools
Education – Elementary Schools
Education – High Schools
Education – Junior High Schools
Education – Kindergartens
Education – Middle Schools
Education – Music Schools
Education – Night Schools
Education – Preschools
Education – Private Schools
Education – Real Estate Schools
Education – Religious Schools
Education – Tutoring
Education – Vocational & Technical Schools
Entertainment – Adult
Entertainment – Archery Ranges
Entertainment – Arenas & Stadiums
Entertainment – Art Galleries
Entertainment – Athletic, Fitness & Health Clubs & Gymnasiums
Entertainment – Auto Racing & Speedways
Entertainment – Ballrooms
Entertainment – Batting Cages
Entertainment – Beaches
Entertainment – Billiards & Pool
Entertainment – Bingo
Entertainment – Bowling
Entertainment – Bridge & Card Clubs
Entertainment – Climbing
Entertainment – Comedy Clubs
Entertainment – Country Clubs
Entertainment – Dance Classes
Entertainment – Dance Clubs
Entertainment – Dinner Theaters
Entertainment – Disc Jockeys
Entertainment – Driving Ranges
Entertainment – Football
Entertainment – Golf Courses
Entertainment – Gymnastics
Entertainment – Hiking
Entertainment – Karaoke
Entertainment – Live Music
Entertainment – Miniature Golf Courses
Entertainment – Movie Theaters
Entertainment – Museums
Entertainment – Night Clubs
Entertainment – Opera Houses
Entertainment – Orchestras & Symphonies
Entertainment – Paintball
Entertainment – Parks
Entertainment – Performing Arts Theaters & Playhouses
Entertainment – Planetariums
Entertainment – Racquetball Courts
Entertainment – Self Defense & Martial Arts Classes
Entertainment – Shooting Ranges
Entertainment – Skating Rinks
Entertainment – Ski Slopes
Entertainment – Soccer Clubs
Entertainment – Spas
Entertainment – Squash Courts
Entertainment – Swimming Pools
Entertainment – Tennis Courts
Entertainment – Tourist Attractions
Entertainment – Wineries
Entertainment – Yoga Classes
Government Offices
Government Offices – County
Government Offices – Courts
Government Offices – Education & School
Government Offices – Federal
Government Offices – Fire Departments
Government Offices – Local
Government Offices – Police
Government Offices – Post Offices
Government Offices – Sheriffs
Government Offices – State
Health & Medical
Health & Medical – Abortion Services
Health & Medical – Acupuncture
Health & Medical – Alcoholism Counseling & Treatment
Health & Medical – Allergists
Health & Medical – Alternative Medicine
Health & Medical – Animal Hospitals
Health & Medical – Assisted Living
Health & Medical – Cardiologists
Health & Medical – Chiropractors
Health & Medical – Clinics & Medical Centers
Health & Medical – Counseling
Health & Medical – Dentists
Health & Medical – Dermatologists
Health & Medical – Endocrinologists
Health & Medical – Family & General Practice Physicians
Health & Medical – Gastroenterologists
Health & Medical – Geriatrics
Health & Medical – Gynecologists
Health & Medical – Hematologists
Health & Medical – Hospices
Health & Medical – Hospitals
Health & Medical – Immunologists
Health & Medical – Infectious Diseases
Health & Medical – Infertility
Health & Medical – Internal Medicine
Health & Medical – Nephrology
Health & Medical – Neurologists
Health & Medical – Neurosurgeons
Health & Medical – Nursing Homes
Health & Medical – Obstetricians
Health & Medical – Oncologists
Health & Medical – Ophthalmologists
Health & Medical – Optometrists
Health & Medical – Orthodontists
Health & Medical – Orthopedics
Health & Medical – Otolaryngologists
Health & Medical – Pain Management
Health & Medical – Pediatricians
Health & Medical – Physical Therapists
Health & Medical – Plastic Surgeons
Health & Medical – Podiatrists
Health & Medical – Psychiatrists
Health & Medical – Psychologists
Health & Medical – Pulmonologists
Health & Medical – Radiologists
Health & Medical – Rheumatologists
Health & Medical – Sports Medicine
Health & Medical – Surgeons
Health & Medical – Travel Medicine
Health & Medical – Urologists
Health & Medical – Veterinarians
Organizations – Chambers of Commerce
Organizations – Charities
Organizations – Churches
Organizations – Fraternal
Organizations – Historical Societies
Organizations – Mosques
Organizations – Non-profit
Organizations – Professional
Organizations – Religious
Organizations – Sports Clubs
Organizations – Stock Exchanges
Organizations – Synagogues & Temples
Organizations – Volunteer
Organizations – Welfare
Organizations – Youth
Real Estate
Real Estate – Agents & Realtors
Real Estate – Apartment Buildings & Complexes
Real Estate – Appraisers
Real Estate – Commercial
Real Estate – Home Inspection
Real Estate – Property Management
Real Estate – Surveyors
Restaurants – Afghan
Restaurants – African
Restaurants – All You Can Eat
Restaurants – American
Restaurants – Argentinean
Restaurants – Australian
Restaurants – Austrian
Restaurants – Banquet Halls
Restaurants – Barbecue
Restaurants – Bars, Pubs & Taverns
Restaurants – Belgian
Restaurants – Brazilian
Restaurants – Breakfast & Brunch
Restaurants – Breweries & Brewpubs
Restaurants – British
Restaurants – Buffets
Restaurants – Cafes
Restaurants – Cajun
Restaurants – Caribbean
Restaurants – Caterers
Restaurants – Chilean
Restaurants – Chinese
Restaurants – Coffee Shops
Restaurants – Colombian
Restaurants – Creole
Restaurants – Cuban
Restaurants – Czech
Restaurants – Delicatessens
Restaurants – Delivery
Restaurants – Dessert
Restaurants – Dim Sum
Restaurants – Diners
Restaurants – Ethiopian
Restaurants – Family Style
Restaurants – Fast Food
Restaurants – Fine Dining
Restaurants – French
Restaurants – German
Restaurants – Greek
Restaurants – Halal
Restaurants – Hungarian
Restaurants – Ice Cream
Restaurants – Indian
Restaurants – Indonesian
Restaurants – Irish
Restaurants – Italian
Restaurants – Jamaican
Restaurants – Japanese
Restaurants – Korean
Restaurants – Kosher
Restaurants – Lebanese
Restaurants – Malaysian
Restaurants – Mexican
Restaurants – Middle Eastern
Restaurants – Moroccan
Restaurants – Nepali
Restaurants – Pakistani
Restaurants – Pizza
Restaurants – Polish
Restaurants – Polynesian
Restaurants – Portuguese
Restaurants – Russian
Restaurants – Sandwiches
Restaurants – Seafood
Restaurants – Southern
Restaurants – Southwestern
Restaurants – Spanish
Restaurants – Sports Bars
Restaurants – Steakhouses
Restaurants – Sushi
Restaurants – Swedish
Restaurants – Takeout
Restaurants – Tapas
Restaurants – Thai
Restaurants – Tibetan
Restaurants – Turkish
Restaurants – Vegan
Restaurants – Vegetarian
Restaurants – Vietnamese
Retail Stores
Retail Stores – Animals & Pets
Retail Stores – Antiques & Collectibles
Retail Stores – Appliances
Retail Stores – Art Supplies
Retail Stores – Automobile Alarms
Retail Stores – Automobile Audio
Retail Stores – Automobile Parts & Supplies
Retail Stores – Automobiles
Retail Stores – Automobiles – New
Retail Stores – Automobiles – Used
Retail Stores – Awards & Trophies
Retail Stores – Baby Clothing & Supplies
Retail Stores – Bakeries
Retail Stores – Banks
Retail Stores – Beds & Mattresses
Retail Stores – Beer
Retail Stores – Bicycle
Retail Stores – Boating
Retail Stores – Books & Magazines
Retail Stores – Bridal
Retail Stores – Building Supplies
Retail Stores – Butchers
Retail Stores – CDs, Records & Tapes
Retail Stores – Camera & Photography
Retail Stores – Candles
Retail Stores – Candy
Retail Stores – Carpet & Flooring
Retail Stores – Charity & Thrift
Retail Stores – Cheese
Retail Stores – China & Glassware
Retail Stores – Cigars, Cigarettes, Tobacco & Smoking
Retail Stores – Clothing
Retail Stores – Comic Books
Retail Stores – Computers
Retail Stores – Consignment
Retail Stores – Convenience
Retail Stores – Cosmetics
Retail Stores – Costumes
Retail Stores – Craft Supplies
Retail Stores – Credit Unions
Retail Stores – DVDs, Videotapes & Movies
Retail Stores – Department
Retail Stores – Discount
Retail Stores – Electrical Equipment
Retail Stores – Electronics
Retail Stores – Equipment Rental
Retail Stores – Fabric, Sewing Supplies & Notions
Retail Stores – Fireplace Equipment
Retail Stores – Fireworks
Retail Stores – Fish & Seafood
Retail Stores – Fishing Supplies
Retail Stores – Flea Markets
Retail Stores – Florists
Retail Stores – Furniture
Retail Stores – Games & Hobbies
Retail Stores – Garden & Gardening
Retail Stores – Gas Stations
Retail Stores – Gift
Retail Stores – Gift Baskets
Retail Stores – Green Grocers
Retail Stores – Grocery & Supermarkets
Retail Stores – Guns
Retail Stores – Hardware
Retail Stores – Health Food
Retail Stores – Hot Tubs, Saunas, Spas & Swimming Pools
Retail Stores – Hunting
Retail Stores – Jewelry
Retail Stores – Kitchen
Retail Stores – Laundromats
Retail Stores – Lighting
Retail Stores – Lingerie
Retail Stores – Liquor
Retail Stores – Lumber
Retail Stores – Maps
Retail Stores – Medical Supplies
Retail Stores – Mobile Homes
Retail Stores – Motorcycles
Retail Stores – Music & Musical Instruments
Retail Stores – Newspapers
Retail Stores – Office Equipment & Supplies
Retail Stores – Opticians
Retail Stores – Outdoor Furniture
Retail Stores – Outlets
Retail Stores – Paint, Wallpaper & Wall Coverings
Retail Stores – Paper
Retail Stores – Party Supplies
Retail Stores – Pawn Shops
Retail Stores – Pharmacies
Retail Stores – Plants
Retail Stores – Plumbing Equipment & Supplies
Retail Stores – Recreational Vehicles
Retail Stores – Restaurant Supplies
Retail Stores – Shoes
Retail Stores – Shopping Centers & Malls
Retail Stores – Skiing
Retail Stores – Sporting Goods
Retail Stores – State Stores
Retail Stores – Surplus
Retail Stores – Telephones
Retail Stores – Theater Supplies
Retail Stores – Tires
Retail Stores – Toupees & Wigs
Retail Stores – Toys
Retail Stores – Tuxedo Rental
Retail Stores – Video Games
Retail Stores – Watches
Retail Stores – Wine
Retail Stores – Wool & Yarn
Services – Accounting
Services – Advertising Agencies
Services – Alteration & Tailoring
Services – Animal Control
Services – Animal Shelters
Services – Animal Training
Services – Appliance Repair
Services – Appraisal
Services – Arborists & Tree Services
Services – Architects
Services – Astrologers, Palm Readers & Psychics
Services – Attorneys
Services – Auctions
Services – Auto Detailing & Washing
Services – Automobile Repair
Services – Bail Bonds
Services – Barbers
Services – Beauty Salons
Services – Body Piercing
Services – Burglar Alarm
Services – Cable & Satellite Television
Services – Car Washes
Services – Carpet Cleaning
Services – Cemeteries
Services – Check Cashing
Services – Cleaning & Maid
Services – Computer Consulting
Services – Computer Networking
Services – Computer Repair
Services – Computer Security
Services – Conference Facilities & Halls
Services – Construction
Services – Consulting
Services – Convention Facilities
Services – Copying
Services – Courier & Delivery
Services – Court Reports & Stenographers
Services – Currency Exchange
Services – Data Recovery
Services – Dating
Services – Day Care Centers & Nurseries
Services – Dry Cleaning
Services – Dumps & Landfills
Services – E-commerce
Services – Electrical
Services – Electronics Repair
Services – Embroidery
Services – Employment & Temporary Agencies
Services – Engineering
Services – Engraving
Services – Event Planning
Services – Facsimile sending & receiving
Services – Family Planning
Services – Fencing & Fence Repair
Services – Financial Planning
Services – Food Banks
Services – Funeral Homes & Mortuaries
Services – Garage Door Installation
Services – Gardening & Landscaping
Services – General Contractors
Services – Glass & Window Repair
Services – Graphic Design
Services – Hair Removal
Services – Handyman
Services – Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning
Services – Home Remodeling & Repair
Services – Human & Social Services
Services – Importing & Exporting
Services – Insurance
Services – Interior Design
Services – Internet Marketing
Services – Internet Service Providers
Services – Investments
Services – Janitorial Services
Services – Junkyards
Services – Kennels
Services – Landscape Design
Services – Laundry
Services – Legal Aid
Services – Libraries
Services – Locksmiths
Services – Marinas
Services – Marketing
Services – Massage
Services – Modeling Agencies
Services – Mortgage Services
Services – Moving
Services – Music
Services – Nail Salons
Services – Notary Public
Services – Painting
Services – Passport
Services – Personal Trainers
Services – Pest Control
Services – Pet Boarding
Services – Pet Grooming
Services – Pet Sitting
Services – Photographers
Services – Piano Repair & Tuning
Services – Picture Framing
Services – Plumbing
Services – Pressure Washing
Services – Printing
Services – Process Servers
Services – Public Relations
Services – Publishing
Services – Record Management & Storage
Services – Recording Studios
Services – Recycling
Services – Roofing
Services – Secretarial
Services – Security

Google thinks I’m Google

Because I work for an SEO company in Pittsburgh, I tend to do quite a lot of local searches in and around the Pittsburgh metro area. At work we’ve been receiving some phone calls from people who think we’re Google – the latest was an event planner wanting to check up on conference plans. I hope whoever at Google was attending the conference got in touch with their planner, because apparently they didn’t already have your number – and I hope you consider using a different planner.

So I download the logfiles for our company website and take a look at the referrers – great, some traffic from Google maps. Then I find that we’re listed #1 for Google Pittsburgh PA

This coincides with a post Google just put out about local search: Find and compare local businesses, which I thought was quite amusing indeed!

So for any future planners or others wanting to find Google Pittsburgh they’re at:

Pittsburgh Engineering Office
4720 Forbes Avenue
Lower Level
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Incase this gets manually altered somehow… I’ve saved a screenshots for prosperity.

We’re also listed under the regular web search with an authoritative onebox listing:

Disclaimer: My company has never pretended to be Google or optimized/paid to be listed this way, this is just an example of Google’s own local search ranking algo, not quite getting it right.

Location is not an important factor in Google maps

I’ve been analyzing some of the results in Google Maps and by using Google Local Business Center (GLBC) I’ve found that a business can rank:

1) first, infact better than that, it can have an authoritative listing without even having a website. Not all businesses have a website, but I have to question the priority of signals that it uses to provide an authoritative listing. In this day and age, how can a company be classified as an authority on a subject if it does not have a website?

2) in a category which doesn’t even exist from within GLBC. This is because Google is using Acxiom data which is the database behind many of the phone company directories. They have their own category listings, which are different than what is shown within GLBC. They’re aren’t even merged and my request for adding a corresponding category was ignored.

3) in a location even when other companies are geographically closer to the search criteria. If I am looking for a company in a certain town, it is not relevant to show me an authoritative listing of another company in a different location. Above the other points I think this is the most important. In many search queries the user rarely qualifies their location, intention or purpose. As experienced SEO’s are aware, there’s a lot of search volume for short generic terms like [airline tickets], and much less where the searcher is further qualifying their search, for example: [airline tickets to london england]. So in the case of a local search where the location is specified, it surely must be very important for the user to see results exactly in that location.

When I asked Google about the importance of location, they responded with:

“As with all Google search results, Google Maps ranks business listings based on their relevance to the search terms entered, and geographic distance is only one of the factors we consider. Sometimes our search technology decides that a business that’s farther away is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer.”

I actually had to read that twice to believe what I was seeing. How can a business located in a different town be more relevant and receive an authoritative onebox listing? In the listings I was tracking, these aren’t adjoining towns (19.2 miles away according to Google Maps).

Google still obviously has a way to go with local search and mixing data sources with what it finds organically and through user submitted listings (GLBC). I’m confident that this situation will improve, until then I’ll keep hammering away. SERPs and Google Phone MRPs?

Google OS blogged about a rumored project Google Phone. I was just reading some of Mike Blumenthal‘s research about Google local and a thought popped into my head. If the new device has GPS capability, then Google would know your location, so if you searched for “pizza”, perhaps it would use your immediate location for a radial search, making the Mobile Result Pages (MRPS?) extremely relevant.

It also opens up the possibility for extremely targeted advertising using a relatively new advertiser option ads for mobile. Add click to call capability and you have a really great advertising service for businesses that need walk in customers.

Perhaps there will also be some integration with the Contacts section within Gmail (and auto insert the company’s logo as the picture). Having had one of my cell phones recently stolen, keeping all of my contacts online would certainly make reprogramming them on the new phone a lot quicker.