Search FAQs

What is the content that is being searched?

When you search by word, you are searching against all primary and alternate business names that are entered into our system.  We also detect matches against words in our Type of Business categories, which we use as a factor in determining relevancy rankings.

When you select a Type of Business category from the list of categories that is presented to you, we return only those businesses that BBB has coded with the category you selected.  Because there are a number of similar categories, you may want to try more than one if you don’t find what you need on the first try.

How do I specify a location in the single search box?

BBB users can execute searches from the search page, or from anywhere in the site using the search box at the top of the page.  The search page has a separate box to specify location.  But users can still apply a location to their searches from the main search box; here’s how:

Automatic location – BBB’s search will automatically apply a location to your search based on the information you entered to find your BBB, or based on the first BBB site you interacted with in your current web session. This information is stored in a cookie that is automatically deleted when your BBB session ends – we do not store your location information or use it for any purpose other than to sort your search results by distance.  Where we can’t identify a location in the cookie, such as when you were interacting with the Council’s site, we submit your search without a location.  See below on how to change the automatic location for your searches.

Specifying a location – BBB Search recognizes the word “in” as a separator between your query and your location IF your location is in the format, city, state.

towing in belleville michigan

subway in greenville, sc

OR if the location is a zip code:

ice cream in 22202

We are continually working to improve location specification.

Once you have executed a search, you will see the search location in the “location” box on the left side of the search results page.

How do I change my automatic search location?

BBB’s search will automatically apply a location to your search based on the information you entered to find your BBB, or based on the BBB site you were interacting with before you executed the search. 

You can override this location for a single query, by removing the location from the box on the search results page and replacing it with the location you want to search.  Your automatic location will return for future searches in your session.

You can change your search location for the remainder of your session by clicking the little down arrow next to the BBB name in the site header above the main navigation.  This opens a  “change your location” window, which allows you to enter a city or zip code.  Please note – if you enter a city or ZIP code that is outside the jurisdiction of your BBB, this will also change your web site view to that of the BBB that has jurisdiction over the city or ZIP code you have entered.

Why do so many results show when I searched by zip code?

Your location acts as the center point for sorting results in geographic rings.  We do not limit the results to only those that are in the city or ZIP code you searched.

What does the distance reflect?

The distances shown are based on the distance from the business to the geographical center of the ZIP code or city in your search location.  Depending on where you live, this may or may not accurately represent the distance from you.  Distances are sorted into geographic rings, and within these rings, businesses are sorted by relevance to your search criteria.

Why is the distance column sometimes empty?

If there is no location associated with the search, the distance column will appear empty in the search results.  This will be the case when your cookie does not indicate a location – for instance if you came to the search page directly without first visiting a BBB site, or if you started your BBB session at the Council’s site – or if you intentionally removed the location from the location box.

When your search does not include a location, the location box on the search results page will be empty, and no distances will display in the distance column.  Results are sorted by relevance, and are not sorted into geographic rings.

Is search case-sensitive?

Yes and no. 

If you submit a search that’s all upper- or all lower-case, it will return results with any capitalization.

If you submit a mixed-case search, it behaves a bit differently.  A capital letter in the middle of a word signals the search to look for both the exact case you searched, and also two words with the separation at the capital letter.

For example:

Searching eBay will search for the exact capitalization of eBay, along with the separate words E Bay or E-Bay.  It will not find Ebay, EBay, EBAY or ebay.

Searching ebay or EBAY will find all of the capitalizations: ebay, eBay, EBay and EBAY, but will not find the separate words E Bay or E-bay.

Since business records can have a variety of spellings and capitalizations, if you are looking for a business whose official name is in mixed case we suggest you try first an all lower case search, and if you do not find the business you are looking for try again with the mixed-case business name. 

Why do I sometimes see two addresses on a search result?

Where our database supports, we pull together businesses with multiple locations into a single search result.  For multi-location business search results, we display both the address of the location nearest you, and the headquarters location if there is one.  The distance shown is the distance to the nearest location; the accreditation status shown is that of the headquarters.  

What are the suggested categories that appear as I’m typing?

BBB codes entities by Type of Business or Type of Charity.  As you are entering your query, you can choose to select a Type of Business or Charity category, or you can simply continue typing and search by word in business or charity name.

In the Location box, we suggest city names for you to select as your typing.  This is to save you time and prevent typos as you enter a city location.

What is the difference between a category search and a word search?

When you select a category, you are filtering the results so that only those businesses or charities  that BBB has coded with that specific category will display.  Keep in mind there are many similar categories, so if you do not see the business or charity you are looking for, try a different category or try a word search.