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JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

[As an experienced Local Guide, I now sometimes come across inconsistencies or notice that errors have been made that I used to make myself when I started out. So I am now publishing a few 'best practice' posts, in the hope it can help others.]

Selecting the correct category for a point of interest (POI) can be challenging. Sometimes there simply is no category label available that perfectly describes the main characteristics of the POI. An example from my own experience is a particular type of vending machine that you find all over the place in Belgium: one where you can buy bread. Some types of vending machines have their own category (such as coffee vending machine and beauty products vending machine), but not this one (probably also because you don't really find these in any other country) - and neither is there a category label for vending machine in general.

In other cases the difficulty is that different category labels are available for what basically is the same type of POI. So far, no one has been able to explain to me the difference between a DIY-store and a home improvement store. Feel free to leave a comment if you can shed light into the darkness on this one!

39395895972_23b9e2eb0d_h.jpgImage by stratman² (2 many pix!) on flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The issue I want to point in this post, however, is that quite a few points of interest have a category which is not incorrect as such, but also not the best possible one. In almost all cases, the POI then has a general category, where a more specific one is available. Let me give you 2 examples:
* car dealerships: those often have the general car dealer or even garage, but for most popular brands there is a specific category: Ford-dealer, Volkswagen-dealer, Toyota-dealer, etc.
* sports clubs: these often have the general label sports club, but several popular sports have their own label: football club, tennis club, karate club, etc.

Adding a missing category or replacing the existing one with a more relevant one will bring you 5 points, so you should definitely take this into account when collecting local guides points.

Other posts in this series:
Best Practice: Entering Opening hours
Best Practice: ALL CAPS / all lowercase
Best Practice: Correcting pin location
Best Practice: Submit changes one by one 

Best Practice: Find the right zoom level

Best Practice: Reporting duplicates

Best Practice: Adding places without house number

Best Practice: Correcting errors you accidentally made

Best Practice: Filtering 'Check the facts'

Best Practice: Find the right category

Best Practice: Create on mobile / Complete on desktop

Best Practice: Improve your reputation

Best Practice: The best order for suggesting edits

Best Practice: Get rid of legal names

Best Practice: Attempts to add bus stop or train station

Disclaimer: the practices described here as best practice are my personal interpretation, and I don't claim any level of official endorsement.

davidcox Level 8
Level 8

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

@JanVanHaver Thanks for the post and this issue certainly creates confusion for companies and contributors.  One tool that may help others is this link that I found over at the Google My Maps community it is a tool that shows business categories by country  I hope this helps out.

JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

@davidcox WOW! That really is a useful tool, thanks a lot for sharing that.


Their website mentions "This tool generates а full list of Google My Business Categories." so I guess that whenever you use the tool you get the up to date list as it is being generated at that moment. I've started downloading a few lists right away and will see if this can help me with some older category related topics (like this beverage store one).

davidcox Level 8
Level 8

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

@JanVanHaver Be aware that the categories do get edited and changed.  The big controlling issue is the website and other online information that refines Google's knowledge of a location. The category is the starting point. 

Mixed-Fam-of-6 Level 5
Level 5

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

Thanks for reaching out and sharing your post. It is indeed helpful. I will keep your links handy for future reading.

Thanks so much from Florida,


JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

Adapted the original post: removed the reference to the fact that Peugeot and Citroen were not available as separate categories, because they now are.

aka_Rὁn Level 7
Level 7

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category


This is the kind of intelligent and informative discussion thread that is so valuable for other Local Guides and seems to be inspired by the technical details you include in your posted articles.

I have followed your earlier advice assiduously in terms of providing only the name, address and category of new places and have had far greater success with that method than when I added other details such as the telephone number, website and business hours in the initial attempt.

It seems that problems can arise if the mapbot can not easily verify some of the non-mandatory details and  when that happens it  can trigger an immediate rejection and so the guidance that you have given on this subject if an effective means of avoiding that risk and I am grateful that you shared it.

The only addition I have made to the technique you suggested was to take a GPS-coded photograph of the place I was trying to add while I was still there and then submit it at the same time.

Thanks for posting this directory of the other parts of your Best Practice series since it will make it much easier for us to access its advice.


■ "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ?" ■ "Who watches the watchers ?" ■ the satirical poet, Juvenal ■ 1st century Rome ■
Guyco Level 8
Level 8

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

Thank you so much @JanVanHaver


Your posts are very informative and helpfull to us.


I have a question about the link to the category list.  Would you know where to ask for changes in the french list ?



JanVanHaver Level 10
Level 10

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

Hello @Guyco, I'm glad the posts are helpful (and glad people still find them, as most of them were written before the switch to Connect 2.0).


If you follow the link in the reply davidcox added to this post, you land on a page where you can select a language and a country. I did this to get e.g. the list in French for France and Belgium - not sure if there will be a separate one for Canada.


The results from those queries I then copy into Excel. Every few months I repeat this process and then use the VLOOKUP function in Excel to figure out if categories were added or removed.


Guyco Level 8
Level 8

Re: Best Practice: Choosing a more specific category

@JanVanHaver  I also copied the categories on an Excel file :)  


Hope this will help when adding places on the map.