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How to Do Local SEO During the Holidays

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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While you’re at it, make sure you also update any on-site landing pages that contain outdated company information.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.

Yes, you will need some solid, optimized content on your pages, but if the pages themselves are cluttered with flash material, ads, blocks of text, or problems with your JavaScript, it will neither load quickly nor look attractive.

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.

Final Thoughts

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.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita



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Want to speak at SMX West? Here’s how

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Want to showcase your knowledge of search marketing to our SMX West attendees? We’d love to hear from you, and if you wow us with your proposal we’ll invite you to speak at the conference. To increase the odds of being selected, be sure to read the agenda. Understand what the sessions are about. Ensure that your pitch is on target to the show’s audience and the session. Please also be very specific about what you intend to cover. Also, if you do not see a particular session listed, this is because there are no openings for that session. Use this form to submit your request.

PLEASE NOTE: We have changed the pitch process. We’ve put together session titles that we plan to run at the show, and we’re looking for you to tell us what key learning objectives and takeaways you’ll offer to attendees. Detailed instructions are on the pitch form.

As you might guess, interest is high in speaking at SMX conferences. We literally sift through hundreds of submissions to select speakers for the show. Here are some tips that will increase your chances of being selected.

Pitch early: Submitting your pitch early gives you a better chance of being selected. Coordinators accept speakers as soon as they identify a pitch that they think best fits the session, just like colleges that use a rolling admissions policy. So pitching early increases the likelihood you’ll be chosen.

Use the form: The speaker pitch form (http://marketinglandevents.com/speaker-form/) is the way to ask to speak. There’s helpful information there about how your pitch should be written and what it should contain.

Write it yourself and be specific: Lots of pitches come in that are not specific to the session. This is the most effective ways to ensure that your pitch is ignored. And this year, we’re no longer accepting pitches written by anyone other than a proposed speaker. If you’re a thought leader, write the pitch yourself… and make certain that it is 100% focused on the session topic.

“Throw your best pitch:” We’re limiting the number of pitches to three per person, so please pitch for the session(s) where you really feel you’ll offer SMX attendees your best.

NEW: SMX Insights Sessions. What are they? 8-10 minute solo sessions that pack a punch and wow attendees with content they can’t and won’t see anywhere else. Tactical. Specific. Actionable. Speakers are challenged to deliver the goods in a limited amount of time: one must-try tactic, one nugget of sage advice, or one takeaway that makes you more productive. Have a gem to share with your colleagues? Pitch your idea and you may make it to the SMX stage!

You’ll be notified: Everyone who pitches to speak will be notified by email whether you are accepted or not.

And don’t delay—the pitch forms for each session will close as sessions are filled, with everything closing Friday, November 29.


About The Author



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Video: Danny Sullivan, Google Public Liaison of Search, on his transition from Search Engine Land to Google

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We have a special video interview for you all at Search Engine Land. We interviewed Danny Sullivan, the founder of Search Engine Land and the search community, in a two-part series.

In part one, we asked Danny about his early days in the industry to him ultimately deciding to retire from his role at Search Engine Land / Third Door Media. Then accepting a job a few months later to work with the Google Search team as the Google Public Liaison of Search.

Part two is more about what it is like to work at Google and how he sees things differently as a Googler than when he was working on search from outside of Google.

Here is part one:

I started this vlog series recently, and if you want to sign up to be interviewed, you can fill out this form on Search Engine Roundtable. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.



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Google Ads Editor update includes support for Discovery campaigns

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Yes, the editing pane is still awkwardly placed to take up a giant chunk of the right side of the screen, but Google Ads Editor’s latest version does offer some handy updates.

Edit pane. Speaking of that edit pane, now you can at least condense some fields to hide them so there’s a bit less scrolling. (That doesn’t mean irrelevant sections no longer show, however. You’re still going to have to scroll past a grayed-out “Shopping settings” when you’re in a Search campaign, for example.)

Shared negative keyword lists. If you’ve built out broadly applicable negative keyword lists, you can now share those across accounts in the Shared Library in Editor. (Shared Library is located under “Account-level” in the left navigation pane.)

Search for errors. You can search for similar errors across your campaigns or accounts. In the search bar, type “rule” or “violation” and you’ll see a list of options. Similarly, when you find an error or warning, you can click on the “Show violations” link at the bottom of the screen to see them all.

New campaign support. If you are running App campaigns for engagement or have access to Discovery campaigns in beta, you can now create and edit them in Editor.

Why we should care. These changes are relatively minor, but may save you some campaign management time, particularly if you’re using the newly supported campaign types. It’s also a pretty good sign that the Discovery campaigns beta is coming along. At the very least, it’s a good reminder to check how and if you’ve applied your negative keyword lists.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.



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