Prepare for the Holidays with this Local SEO Checklist
The holidays have historically been a time for large crowds to shop in-store. However as we all know, the 2020 holiday shopping experience will be vastly different this year due to COVID-19. The pandemic has created a shift towards online shopping for consumers, so it’s vital for brands to prepare with a solid local SEO strategy to reach 2020 holiday shoppers. This guide will give you several essential local SEO strategies to maximize your reach to consumers in the 2020 holiday season.
1 – Update Your Listings
Local business listings will be important in giving consumers accurate information at the start of their search process. Make sure that your special hours are in place and you’ve added the latest GMB attributes to further describe the shopping experience you are providing. In addition to business information updates, you can also add product listings, a free tool Google released in April to help consumers easily shop for local products. As you continue to make these updates, think of other holiday-friendly ways to optimize your business listings.
Here are the steps for setting holiday hours on Google My Business:
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
- Click the Special hours section.
- Click Confirm hours next to an upcoming holiday. Or click Add new date to choose a different date.
- Enter the opening and closing times for that day.
- Slide the circle to “Closed” to indicate that the location is closed all day.
- If you’re open 24 hours, click Opens at and select 24 hours from the dropdown menu that appears.
- If you enter closing hours past midnight, make sure to set them properly.
- When you’ve finished entering all of your special hours, click Apply. Your special hours will appear to customers on Google only for the designated days.
Here are the steps for setting holiday hours on Yelp:
- Login to the Yelp for Business app.
- Go to Business Information and select Special Hours.
- You can mark your business as closed for the day or open during a window of time. Special hours are set on a day-by-day basis, so add each day where your operating hours will be different from the hours regularly listed on Yelp.
‘How to set holiday hours on Facebook:
- Click About on the left side of your Page.
- Click Edit Page Info.
- Click the Hours tab at the top.
- Add your hours and click Save Changes.
‘How to set holiday hours on Bing:
- Login to bingplaces.com.
- Click on your business name.
- Select the “EDIT” button next to your business name.
- Click the “Next” button until you get to the section that displays your hours.
- Click the checkbox next to: “Yes, I want to provide working hours for special days.”
- Add your holiday hours. If your business is closed make sure to check the box for “Closed”. Click “Next” and then “Submit” when you are finished.
2 – Be Proactive about Google Q&A
The Google Q&A section of GMB, is an important local SEO strategy to answer consumer’s most common questions. One important thing to note is that anyone can answer questions in your brand’s Google Q&A, which is all the more reason to provide brand-verified answers. Go ahead and create Q&As for holiday-related questions like holiday store hours, holiday products, contactless experiences, and COVID-19 questions. If you want to answer more questions that are relevant to your consumers, head to Answer The Public. Through here, you can do some research to see what questions consumers have related to your competitors, products, industry, and brand.
3 – Update Local Pages & Optimize Your Website
Optimizing your local pages for the holidays will help improve your online visibility for local, web, mobile, and voice searches. Each of your local pages should have localized holiday content such as holiday-specific items, holiday offers, holiday hours, and more. Adding in holiday-specific information increases your chances of being found for holiday consumers who are searching with queries like “Christmas deals near me”. Don’t forget to add in links to your social media channels, delivery services, and booking services.
Another strategy to reach local holiday-shoppers is by optimizing your website for mobile searches. Holiday shoppers will be turning to the hassle-free convenience of their voice assistant and phones to order holiday gifts. 40% of online transactions are done using a mobile device. Websites that are mobile-optimized and have a fast site speed will directly increase search rankings and improve the online shopping experience for customers.
Test your website speed with Google PageSpeed Insights to see if site-speed is under 3 seconds, the optimal load time. If your website speed isn’t at the optimal time, a quick fix is to optimize the size of images on your website. Images are often the largest culprit for lengthy load times since they are typically larger files. Tools like JPEGmini can help you compress image sizes while retaining the quality. Another strategy is to scan your website to see if there are any plugins you can remove. Plugins are amazing for adding special features or additional functionalities to your website – however, too many plugins can drastically slow down web pages. A routine plugin check will help you know which plugins are the most important to keep and are up-to-date.
4 – Create New Review Response Templates
The recent spikes in online shopping have given way to consumers submitting more reviews this year, highlighting that your review management strategy will matter more now than ever. This holiday season will be unique and come with its own set of new challenges. It’s also likely that your brand has recently implemented different services, technologies, and new rules that may not go over well with customers. No matter what circumstance or situation it is, creating new review response templates can help you stay on top of reviews and respond quickly to the large influx of customer feedback. Your brand can stay on top of reviews by building new review response templates that address any kind of situation.
How to Respond to Positive Reviews:
- Thank the customer
- Get specific
- Entice them to come back
- Wish them a happy holiday season
How to Respond to Negative Reviews:
- Apologize and thank them for their feedback
- Respond appropriately
- Invite the conversation offline
- Address COVID-19 policies and limitations (if necessary)
- Keep it short and sweet
- Wish them a happy holiday season
It’s a good idea to prioritize negative reviews so you can provide a resolution and regain any lost customers. More often than not, an unhappy customer can turn into an advocate of your business if they see you’ve taken the time to address their issue.
5 – Optimize Your Social Media Channels
Plan your social media calendar in advance to make sure your brand’s content is approved and ready to publish when the holidays hit. Holiday content such as product giveaways and holiday themed contests are fun ways to get consumers excited about your brand. However, you also need to inform consumers of the safe and sanitary shopping experience your brand is providing this year. Create regularly scheduled content that discusses COVID-19 protocols, safety procedures, business information updates, omnichannel experiences, and anything else you think will be important for consumers to know. During this time, you also need to check through your social media channels to ensure you have accurate business information, special hours, links, and ways they can reach you for customer care.
Convenience will continue to remain a top priority for consumers even after the holiday season, so make sure your brand is utilizing all the shoppable features from social media. Facebook and Instagram are some of the most popular social media channels consumers use to directly purchase from brands. Through Facebook Shops (also available on Instagram), your business can create a shopping section with a catalog of products for your visitors to browse, save, share, and purchase. Don’t forget to remind your customers that they can easily reach out to your brand on social media for customer service issues, support, and other requests.
With this holiday season being dramatically different than many others, your brand will need to adapt any previous social media messaging in place to reach today’s consumer. Consumers plan to spend less on holiday gifts this year. Take the time to ensure that your holiday messaging is price-conscious and relatable to your audience.
6 – Turn on GMB Messaging
Did you know that through messaging on GMB, customers can message you directly on your listing? GMB Messaging is another avenue of communication that makes it easy to answer all your customer’s questions, provide support, and give more information on your products and services. This messaging feature functions just like a text messaging service and enables you to provide immediate customer service and even share photos.
Here’s how you can set up messaging on GMB:
- Go to your GMB listing.
- Click on Messaging.
- Verify the mobile phone number the messages will come to.
- Follow the steps and make sure to add a personal question to your listing such as “Have questions? Let us know how we can help!”
7 – Stay Ahead with a Task Management System
Staying on top of your brand’s reputation management and local SEO is already difficult enough, but even more so during the holiday season. Streamlining your workflow with a task management system like Chatmeter’s Workflow can help you rest easy knowing you’re on top of it all during this busy time. With Chatmeter’s Workflow, you can create auto-assigned tasks, alerts, and notifications to stay ahead of review responses, social media, and local listings.