More threads by WAHamilton


Oct 11, 2018
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Hi all, I've been playing around with GmB categories for a client of mine and I've noticed that the competitors who are ranking in the Local Pack for the keyword "janitorial services" have this term showing as their category (see screenshot). However, when I go to add this as a secondary category, it is not pulling up as an option.

What do you suggest in this situation? Google won't let me add this to my page because it's not one of the defaults... Is there a workaround for this? Would be interested to hear if others have encountered similar situations and what they did.

@bcherkezov I suppose that's possible, but wouldn't they be testing it within a specific geography? I'm not sure why the category would be available to them, but not to my client if they're in the same city.

My thought last night was that it might be a secondary category you can't select if you've picked a certain primary category. Don't know if that's a thing though...
@WAHamilton Perhaps a useless question, but are you copy/pasting "Janitorial Services" when going to add the category? When I go into a sample GMB listing right now and type out "jan" I get a suggestion for janitorial service. Note, it's singular. Maybe you are trying to add services, which is not, in fact a category? Again I am seeing "janitorial service" as an option both in GMB and in the API.
I just tried adding Janitorial Service (singular) as a secondary and it was accepted. I agree with @Casey Donovan, try typing it out and seeing if there's a difference. Also, I see the competitors listed above have "Janitorial Service" as one of their categories, so it's out there somehow...
Hey @WAHamilton "Janitorial Service" is the global ID which is what you'll see on Google but it's called "Cleaning Service" in Canada so that's the category you want to select in your GMB dashboard.

Where it gets even more confusing is that there are 2 "Cleaning Service" categories in Canada. One is associated with the globalID "Janitorial Service" and the other is associated with the globalID "Cleaning Service"

I'm going to assume the one you want is the 2nd one in the drop down as the primary category but you should be able to test this by adding it and confirming it displays as "janitorial service" on Google. The 2 likely impact ranking differently so I'd say it is important to choose the right one.

I'd also say the fact that Google names them identical is stupid and probably unintended. If you create a thread over on the GMB forum about it and paste the link to the thread here, I'll escalate it and ask Google to correct it.
cleaning service.png
@WAHamilton I'm pretty sure your question has been answered. As described, type categories slowly and let Google auto-complete the category label.

Just something I've observed RE: categories:

1.) Google's Guidelines for representing your business on Google state "Google can also detect category information from your website and from mentions about your business throughout the web."

2.) I've seen several cases where a competitor had a category that was not available as an option in GMB. (Using Darren Shaw's hack.) When talking to my clients I refer to these as categories that are not "user-selectable".

1.) + 2.) I believe that when Google automatically detects category information they sometimes assign categories that are not user-selectable.
Hey @Stefan Somborac,

2.) I've seen several cases where a competitor had a category that was not available as an option in GMB. (Using Darren Shaw's hack.) When talking to my clients I refer to these as categories that are not "user-selectable".

To my knowledge, there should not be a case where a category exists on a competitor that you cannot yourself add. Usually the issue is that categories display with different names on Google search than they do in the GMB dashboard, like this exact example that we're discussing on this thread. You can add the category, you just need to know what the name of it is in your country. If you have any examples where you've seen this, I'd be happy to look them up and confirm what the name is in GMB in your country.
@JoyHawkins I would love your input on this!

Using Darren's hack, check out the categories associated with Steeles-Yonge Animal Hospital, 180 Steeles Ave W #15, Thornhill, ON L4J 2L1, Canada.

(Apologies to the originator of this hack if it's someone other than Darren Shaw!)

If I've interpreted correctly, that Animal Hospital has the following categories which are not user-selectable:
  • Personal Services
  • Pet Care Service
  • Pet Supply Store
  • Places of Interest
It was actually my hack lol but Darren totally credits me in the article. :D
category hack.png

So Personal Services, Pet Care Services & Places of Interest are not categories, they are category folders. The original article I put out on this goes into detail about that and how to tell. Usually they are super-generic high-level descriptions that wouldn't even make sense as categories.

Pet Supply Store is actually Pet Care Store in GMB in Canada. Pet Supply Store is the Global Category ID and Pet Care Store is the regional/country name for that category in Canada.

I agree it's confusing - it comes up a lot on the forum. :cool:
@JoyHawkins Thanks for your response on this! I can confirm that I've added the second iteration of Cleaning Service and this is pulling through on maps as 'Janitorial Service'. That is indeed stupid that there are two versions of Cleaning Service...

I've also posted to the GMB Forum, as you suggested. You can find the post here to escalate.

One last question -- if I try to select both iterations of 'Cleaning Service', I've noticed that it auto-corrects to only select one. It seems to be pulling through 'Janitorial Service' in maps despite this. Do you think this is intended?
The first instance of "Cleaning Service" should be associated with a different category (one that's actually called cleaning service). It's interesting though that it doesn't allow you to select both.
@JoyHawkins That's definitely odd because when I select both and it auto-corrects to just having one, it seems to be picking the second iteration.

When I look in maps, I can't see the page showing 'cleaning service' as a category -- only 'janitorial service'. Of course, that may be because I have 'commercial cleaning service' also selected and it's pulling that category through on searches for "cleaning service guelph" instead. Very strange interaction.

Edit: for grammar
It sounds like buggy behaviour and I would assume it's because there are 2 categories with the same name so it tosses up an error. Hopefully this is one Google will fix soon.
I'm just updating my guide and wanted to let you know that Google removed the category "cleaning service" in the USA this month so hopefully Canada is next :cool:
Hey Alex,

Just updating this thread as well (I also responded over at the GMB forum). Google just removed BOTH categories in Canada recently. So now both janitorial_service and cleaning_service (both listed as Cleaning Service) in GMB no longer exist as categories in Canada.

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