More threads by Tim Sweeney

May 21, 2015
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One of the Chamber of Commerce I belong to uses something called Chamber Master, see ChamberMaster - Chamber Membership Management Software. As I understand it, this platform provides Chambers websites and such things as member directories.

When I first joined this particular Chamber, I noticed that the business categories for the member directory were somewhat limited as well as less than optimized. For example, one of the current categories combines Website/Computer Services. When I inquired with the Chamber, they weren?t sure whether the available categories could be changed.

Since I recently renewed my membership with the Chamber I thought I would take a look to see whether or not the business categories could be modified or not. According to this document, the Chamber can in fact control the business categories that are available to members. This is stated on pages 13 and 14.

Great, but now comes the task of suggesting to the Chamber what to base the categories on. My first thought would be to try to mimic the categories available in GMB. But then I thought of other sources of categories such as Yelp, Apple Maps, etc...

So if you were to advise a Chamber as to what to base categories on, what would that be?
If they decided to use Google's, it wouldn't be hard to get a complete list. Mike Blumenthal posted the categories by country last February (categories_en_US.csv is for the US) or the most up to date version can be manually retrieved with the Google My Business API. Not sure about Yelp or Apple Maps or anything else, but at least getting the category list is relatively easy with Google.
James - I didn't think about trying to grab the categories from the API and was going to use Mikes list. Thanks for that idea. Also, I wasn't sure if there might be a down side from trying to replicate the categories.

One of the negative factors from the current categorization is that I end up getting calls (about one call every 3 months) for computer repair which are generated through the listing at the Chamber. In addition, I would assume that from a citation stand point having non-correlative categories on the Chambers site is a very minor dig to citation consistency.
If you're getting people calling the wrong place because of a bad category, that's definitely a problem. If nothing else, it undermines the credibility of the chamber as a reputable source of information.

As far as categories being important for citation consistency, I haven't seen any studies on that. Maybe? I assume for sites where everyone's playing with restricted rules, Google can see the pattern, but you know what they say about assumptions. I'd be inclined to think you'd have a hard time measuring the impact of fixing the category on a single citation like this, especially for a site where everyone's mislabeled to an extent, but who knows.

If the chamber is interested in people using their site as a resource, that's reason enough to invest in making the switch and improving the quality of that information I'd think, regardless of potential SEO benefits.

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