We’ve all got our favorite holidays scattered throughout the year.
I know plenty of people who begin planning their next Halloween costumes on November 1.
Others wait all year for Black Friday to roll around to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
When it comes to local SEO around the holidays, that word “season” is paramount.
You know you want to boost your rankings, generate more online sales, and, most importantly, increase foot traffic in your brick-and-mortar for the holidays.
But you obviously can’t expect much of that to happen if you start marketing the weekend before the holiday.
Many customers out there push themselves to complete all their holiday shopping well before the special days themselves, and you’d better be ready to receive them when they come calling!
Luckily, the holiday seasons do afford business owners enough time to optimize their local SEO before the mad rush begins, but there are smart ways to go about this.
In this chapter, I’m going to detail some common-sense local SEO tips that can really help you take full advantage of the marketing opportunities that are the holidays!
I call these tips “common sense” specifically because you don’t have to be a digital-marketing guru to figure them out, but nonetheless, you may not have considered them before.
1. Ensure Your NAP Information Is Updated & Accurate
This one is a no-brainer, right?
Well, you might be surprised at how many local businesses I myself have searched online that didn’t reflect accurate NAPs (names, addresses, and phone numbers) or business hours, including holiday hours!
It is important to ensure this information is available and correct across all digital platforms, including:
- Google My Business.
- Social media.
- Moz Local.
- Any other local-business directories you use.
While you’re at it, make sure you also update any on-site landing pages that contain outdated company information.
You can see the problems that may arise from any of your business’s online information being wrong – customers:
- Call an old phone number.
- Travel to a location you moved out of years ago.
- Show up when you’ve already closed for the day.
The trouble isn’t only that none of these actions would convert to a sale.
You are actually in danger of losing those customers forever, as they may develop a negative image of your brand and see your business as unreliable.
Taking the time to update and correct your NAP, business hours, and any other relevant company information will go a long way toward getting yourself into a prime organic-search position.
2. Optimize On-Page Content for Holiday Keywords
Another local holiday SEO guideline is to optimize your on-page content for holiday keywords.
Use Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMrush to see what keywords are driving users to your website, and what pages people are going to after they arrive.
It’s always important to remember that SEO is not an evergreen product.
“Holiday window decals” may have been a top-performing keyword for you last year, but many things may have changed in the last 365 days.
Maybe holiday decoration trends have changed.
Maybe there’s a brand new Easter decoration product out there that’s become the new craze in springtime window adornments.
You must stay current on seasonal keywords from year to year, or you’ll risk becoming stale, and users simply won’t find your site.
The other element to keep in mind here is that typical holiday shoppers likely have some idea of what they’re looking for.
Perhaps they’ve collected wish lists from their family members and are simply looking for a specific product from the company with the best price and most convenient location near them.
In that case, you may want to optimize your landing pages for a good mix of general holiday and brand-specific keywords that will lead organic searchers directly to your site.
3. Stand Out from the Crowd
As long as we are talking about standing out from your competitors, don’t forget that unique content alone can’t generate your holiday sales.
People will be more likely to bring their business to your website if the site itself is easy to use and appealing to look at.
And the data shows that problematic webpages tend to lead to higher bounce rates and, of course, reduced sales.
Instead, keep your webpages relatively simplistic, with visually striking images that do just about as much to communicate with your customers as your written content does.
The optimized content should be to-the-point and broken up visually to create a kind of hierarchy of images and words.
Users should immediately know where to look for the most relevant information, and each successive element should contrast with the element closest to it to make for a smooth flow of content segments.
A basic example: suppose your holiday decoration store is gearing up for the Fourth of July.
You may want to use a large image on your homepage that shows an assortment of picnic and patriotic items you offer for sale.
Then display some visually contrasting buttons that users can click on to access certain categories of decorations.
As an aside, remember to update your site with holiday-appropriate images and other visuals. Showing customers you are engaged with the current holiday season will make them feel good about buying from your store.
Keyword-optimized content near these visuals can use pleasant, succinct language to inform users of what is available and also link them to additional items in your inventory.
Just remember to keep things simple.
A novella-sized piece of content is neither needed nor wanted. Customers want to know what you have and why your website is the best place to buy it, be it for your large product selection or competitive prices.
4. Don’t Forget the ‘Local’ Factor
Remember when I called these holiday-themed local SEO tips “common sense”?
Nowhere is that more applicable than in this final pointer: to remember that you are a local business trying to optimize your online presence for local SEO.
While it’s important to make the online checkout process easy for internet users, you’re also going to have a significant percentage of the population that actually prefers shopping in-store than online.
In March, Forbes contributor Greg Petro cited a First Insight study finding that 71% of survey respondents stated they tend to spend $50 or more when shopping in a brick-and-mortar location, as compared to only 54% of respondents who said they usually spend $50 or more online.
Petro goes on to say this is likely due to the simple fact of the brick-and-mortar offering more of a human element to the shopping experience. And it’s hard to argue with that logic.
People like browsing in stores. You can see the latest products up close and personal. You can read their details and specs and hold them in your hands.
When you’re in-store, you are better able to see yourself owning that product, and you may very well become emotionally attached to it.
Given this human psychological dynamic, it is of the utmost importance that any and all website users know that you do in fact have a physical location.
I mentioned in the first point that your NAP has to be updated and accurate across all directory platforms and on your webpages.
You may want to consider having a separate “Contact Us” or “About Us” page to call attention to your location, provide all your contact information, and show an image of your store.
As far as actual SEO goes for emphasizing your local presence, use Google Analytics, Search Console, Keyword Planner, and SEMrush to find high-volume, long-tail keywords such as “madison wisconsin christmas trees” or “father’s day gifts carlsbad california.”
Then, of course, optimize your on-page content with such keywords, and do this well in advance of the holiday to give search engines time to pick up on your freshly revamped SEO.
Try to drive customers into your physical store with incentives such as an in-store-only coupon discount, or a limited-edition item available only to the first 100 customers through the doors on a given day.
Feel free to get creative with this. You are a local business and proud of it! Run with this fact.
As we’ve seen, there are numerous steps you can take to do local SEO during holiday seasons.
The steps range from the administrative, such as adjusting incorrect NAP information and updating your website with holiday themes, to the more cerebral, such as devising ways to become more noticeable among your competitors and getting online shoppers to visit your store.
If you’d like, you can also do yourself a PR favor by quoting some positive Google reviews of your business on your website (with permission) and responding positively to any online criticism and negative feedback.
Ensure that everyone who comes into contact with your business knows that you appreciate praise and care about complaints.
Take all these tips into account when optimizing your business for local SEO. Like I said at the outset, there’s no need to be a marketing mastermind.
Anyone can follow these steps, or at least understand them enough to request them of your digital marketing agency.
Just work hard at it, and you may see your holiday sales are better than they have ever been.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita