Many Local search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Best of the Web, and Bing, allow you to place your business into a number of categories (usually between 2 and 5) that help describe what your business does.
This may seem like a trivial step when you are filling out your business information, but it’s actually very important. The search engines use this data when deciding which businesses to show for particular searches.
Yahoo Local’s Shailesh Bhat explains in an interview,
“In cases where we do not have a self-serve listing, where the merchant has not provided any data, but we have data from other sources, we essentially look out for the degree of agreement between various sources. That is one heuristic element that helps us in figuring out the right category.”
As a rule, the search engines will not display a business which is not categorized, or even worse, mis-categorized, for particular sets of keywords. This usually happens among keywords and phrases that are most competitive where there are already a number of businesses who are associated with a particular category, and that will satisfy what the searcher is looking for.
One example might be: if you’re a yogurt shop, and you’re only listed in a general “restaurants” category, you may not show up for “yogurt shop” searches, because the search engine finds enough relevant results in the “yogurt shop” category to satisfy that searcher’s main desire. So it’s important to list yourself in as many categories as are relevant to your business.
Check your businesses listings on Google, Bing, and other local search engines.