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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While you’re at it, make sure you also update any on-site landing pages that contain outdated company information.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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Google Search Console now lets you export more data

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Search Console users can now download complete information (instead of just specific table views) from almost all reports, Google announced Wednesday. Data can be exported as a Google Sheet, Excel or .CSV file.

Source: Google.

Why we care

Being able to export your Google Search Console reports makes it easier to analyze and manipulate the data using other tools. It also provides you with the option to join datasets, perform more advanced analyses or just visualize the data a different way.

More on the news

  • Downloaded Enhancement reports include the list of issues and their affected pages, a daily breakdown of your pages, their status and impressions from Google search. When downloading a specific drill-down view, details describing the view are also included in the exported file.
  • All Performance data tabs (Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices, Search appearances and Dates) can now be downloaded with one click. The data will include an extra “Filters” tab that shows which filters were applied when you exported the file.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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Google Images to replace dimensions overlay on image thumbnails

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Google Images will soon replace the dimensions information you see in the image search results, as you overlay your mouse cursor over a specific image thumbnail. Google will replace the dimensions information with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels based on the query.

What is changing? Here is a screenshot highlighting the dimensions section of the image thumbnail in Google Image search:

By the end of this week, a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, the image size dimensions will be replaced with product, recipe, video, and soon, licensable labels.

Google was unable to share a screenshot of the new change. We will update this story when we see the new labels show up in Google Image Search.

Why the change? Google said this will help searchers find visual ideas and get more done directly from the image thumbnail. Images that are licensable, will likely show the license label in that overlay. Images that come from videos, will show a video label. Recipe photos will show the recipe label and so on.

Why we care. If this does indeed work as Google expects, more engaged searchers will help increase clicks on your images and hopefully traffic to your web site. This gives us even more reason to make sure to add the various markups to our images when applicable.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.



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What happens if you stop doing SEO?

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Often, businesses want to stop and start SEO. 

Some feel that taking a break won’t cause any issues. 

But when a client suggests taking a break, you can explain the details of what will happen.

If you stop posting content correctly 

When you stop publishing content, the following things happen:

  1. You stop targeting new terms consistently. This results in fewer new keyword rankings and new traffic. 
  2. You stop creating new pages that can be linked to, and the number of links you earn goes down.
  3. You stop capturing new visitors to add to your remarketing audiences, email list and push notification list.
  4. You stop generating content that can be used to create hub pages, which are master pages that link to all other pages on the topic. These often rank very well.
  5. You stop generating content that gets shared on social media, and thus, generates social media shares and traffic.
  6. You stop encouraging people to return to your website for new posts. This reduces your branded searches, which are an indicator of quality to Google.

Overall, if you stop creating content, it says to Google that your website is no longer as active as it was and thus beginning the process of dying a slow death.

If you don’t watch for technical issues 

Those without web experience often don’t understand that from a technical perspective, things often break for no real reason.

I’ve never seen a website that did not have at least a handful of technical SEO issues.

If you don’t monitor the technical aspects of your site, issues such as the following could arise:

  1. You block your website with robots.txt.
  2. You generate duplicate content.
  3. You accidentally push your development site into the index. 

You can read more about common technical issues here.

When you don’t monitor these things and fix them consistently, they start to add up. Think of it as a garden – it takes maintenance, or it starts to become overgrown.

It is incredibly important to stay technically correct, especially with new developments such as mobile usability, page speed, AMP and more.

If you don’t, you are sure to have an error at some point that will cost you down the line. Similarly, your tech stack will become so out of date that you can no longer compete in the market.

If you stop refreshing pages

When you refresh a page correctly, traffic will generally increase to that page 10% to 30%, sometimes more.

The reason for this is because Google sees the new text and the value it provides and wants to rank it higher.

Now, there are many ways to go about doing refreshes. Some of those include:

  1. Adding FAQs to the page
  2. Adding links to other articles
  3. Updating facts
  4. Updating dates 
  5. Making the text longer 
  6. Adding schema
  7. Changing a page template 
  8. Etc.

Lately, the most important thing to look for when refreshing a page is whether or not it matches search intent, and if the page in question is better than the #1 ranking page.

My process includes doing a search, categorizing the query based on intent, analyzing the top pages, creating a new strategy for the page we are trying to get ranked, and refreshing as a result of that.

If you stop building new pages 

Building new pages are harder for some industries than others.

For example, when I worked with a few firms in the outsources accounting space, the lower funnel terms were minimal. If you compare that to a large e-commerce site like Amazon, its terms are endless.

While that is the case, I believe websites should always be targeting new terms and organizing them by segment. Those segments should be prioritized based on business goals and tracked in a dashboard.

But if you stop building new pages, you’ll lose keyword growth momentum.

I highly recommend creating these pages for SEO, but additionally, these new pages can be excellent landing pages for paid search and paid media, in general.

As a website grows, it’s a great idea to create more landing pages that target specific keywords and audiences. This will improve quality score on the page side and conversion rates all around.

If you stop this process, you’ll lose your competitive advantage. The people who win in the future of the web will be the ones converting traffic for less.  

If you stop watching out for bad links

If you stop doing SEO, your backlink profile can get out of control.

Lately, spammy links are worse than ever before.

When you watch your backlinks, you will see the following happen:

  1. People scrape your website content and keep the links in by accident. 
  2. You get Google alerts from sites hacked by malware. 
  3. Competitors try to do negative SEO on your site.

If you don’t update your disavow file once a month, you are putting your website rankings at risk. Lately, we have been doing it weekly for clients in competitive spaces.

If you stop watching out for stolen content 

Go to your top landing page on your website right now.

Copy a block of text about three sentences long.

Put that text in quotes and search for it in Google. What do you see?

I’ll bet some of you will see other websites coming up for that content. Some might have even stolen from your website.

Now, think about the impact that can have if it happens across multiple pages on your site. Honestly, it can be devastating. Many times we find others have wholly duplicated a website, stolen key pages, or taken individual sections of a page.

When this happens, you need to address it.

  1. Rewrite the content on your site.
  2. Ask the other site to take it down. 
  3. File a DMCA on them if needed.
  4. Consider sending them a cease and desist.
  5. Sometimes, you can contact the hosting company and ask them to remove the site.

Regardless, if you stop watching for stolen content, it could have an extremely negative effect on your business and rankings. This is something you need to catch right away.

Bottom line: Why you should not stop doing SEO

Obviously, you’re not going to stop doing SEO. We all know it is an amazing asset to improve search ranking and help your business grow. The work you do to create and update content along with the technical issues that are easily solved if they’re on your radar, all improve your bottom line. But you also need to ensure you are compliant with privacy regulations if you wish to remain on top.

The ugly truth is that it’s hard to reverse momentum once a website starts going in the wrong direction. I am a firm believer that all things online should be scaled as the business grows, SEO included.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, a digital marketing agency and an Inc. 5000 company. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top marketing experts in the industry. He has been a recipient of the Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of the Year” award, named the #1 SEO consultant in the US by Clutch.co, most admired CEO and 40 under 40. Lincoln has written two books (The Forecaster Method and Digital Influencer) and made two movies (SEO: The Movie and Social Media Marketing: The Movie) on digital marketing.



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