Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
The Christmas holiday season starts from Black Friday with billions of dollars worth of transactions about to happen. The National Retail Federation expects Christmas sales to increase between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent in November and December, amassing between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Whether you are a small business or a big enterprise, implementing the right marketing techniques helps earn a greater portion of this share.
While there will be no snowflakes yet, there will be a flurry of Christmas marketing initiatives vying for customer attention and revenue. And when it comes to marketing online business, it’s a crime to ignore SEO. For starters, your marketing journey this holiday season will require you to follow this local SEO checklist to cover the basics and stay updated.
Often, businesses miss out on key SEO aspects. In this post, we look at the local SEO mistakes that many businesses make, highlighting key issues that businesses need to fine-tune before the holiday season begins. Given the number of sales that happen this holiday season, such mistakes are unforgivable.
Here are eleven local SEO mistakes that everyone makes but you should avoid this holiday season.
Mistake #1. Choosing and optimizing the wrong set of keywords
Poor choice of keywords is one of the most common SEO blunders. You can use tools like Google Ads and Google Trends to understand your target users’ search online. If you aim to rank for competitive keywords, you will have a tough time hitting the set target.
To begin, include a set of local keywords so that you don’t wind up battling with a worldwide audience. Additionally, another local holiday SEO best practice involves optimizing your on-page content for holiday-related keywords.
Use powerful tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMrush to determine which keywords can bring visitors to your website.
Not employing geographic-specific local keywords would make you lose out on prospective clients looking for products and services in your region. Local keywords often include a product or service term with a place (e.g., an art shop in Dallas). These are subsequently used in website content or online company descriptions that aid Google and other search engines locate appropriate businesses for search results.
Therefore, it is critical to pivot your marketing resources to choose and optimize local keywords that are relevant to your organization and its region.
Mistake #2. Not optimizing your mobile site
A busy holiday season in the USA will have consumers spending over 900 million hours on mobile shopping. If you are not there for these users, your competitors will.
For many customers, holiday shopping involves purchasing on the move. Moreover, mobile ecommerce is expected to generate 54% of total ecommerce sales in 2021. It means a larger share of the audience looking for a convenient shopping experience is there to be tapped.
Optimizing your website for mobile will offer positive experiences that can boost your conversion rate. Additionally, it is no secret that Google emphasizes mobile-optimized websites in its search results. Here is some useful guidance on optimizing your website for mobile by Google.
Mistake #3. Wrong NAPW data
NAPW is an acronym for “Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website.” These all are the critical business details that are a ‘must have’ for any online business. Unfortunately, inconsistency in your NAPW over numerous listings is one of the most typical local SEO blunders.
This often occurs when you relocate, alter your phone number, or modify the URL of your website.
However, additional anomalies include:
- The absence of your office suite number.
- Neglecting the “ave” or “st” from your address.
- The use of the incorrect website URL.
Giving out such information in your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) listing and other directories is a significant part of local SEO that can impact your online presence. Customers will trust your business more and rely on the information you provide if you offer correct details.
Championing the holiday season will need you to use the same NAPW, whether adding new listings or editing old ones. You can readily update this information on several directories, including Google Business Profile.
Mistake #4. Not optimizing your Google Business Profile
A comprehensive SEO plan goes beyond website pages. With Google Business Profile, you can verify your business on Google which creates your identity online (including Google Maps).
Here’s where you can start building your business profile on Google.
Once your business is up there, set the holiday hours, working hours, and other key details. This will inform your customers about your availability while making it simple for them to reach you.
Optimizing your profile will involve leveraging Google Posts that enables you to post messages that appear in Google search results and on Google Maps. This is quite useful to get noticed on branded search terms immediately. You can use Posts for events, offers, and actionable items.
Check out this guide to get started with Google Posts for this holiday season.
As discussed earlier, you need to ensure correct NAPW to support your business profile while also implementing the following tactics:
- Add relevant Photos
- Include your optimized keywords
- Manage and respond to customer reviews
- Show product catalog
Mistake #5. No or minimum directory profile information
Frequent publishing of your business data across multiple sites will help you get more impressions in search results. Different directories display search results differently, with many presenting results beyond just blog posts or corporate pages. That is why it works by assimilating your business information online in as many locations as possible.
You should always look out for reliable business directories and publish your business information online. Ensure you enter the correct information on such directories — be it offers, holiday specialties, discount coupons, etc.
Incorrect information may negatively affect your search ranking, especially for local SEO results where competition is high, especially during the holiday season. It is best to cross-refer any online directory to assure its correctness and smoothness.
Ascertain that the company name is the same, the phone number is active, and the website link is not broken or redirected to a 404 page.
Mistake #6. Failing to use social media to target local customers
Many businesses commit the mistake of adopting social media to post offers and link website content. But social media is a powerful tool that helps connect with consumers and enhance your local SEO strategy.
Ensure you have a company name, location, phone number, URL, and uniform categories across all local listings and social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.). Such sites will unearth possibilities for citation-building that enhance the credibility of your business from search engines’ perspectives.
Implementing a cohesive social media strategy with targeted, local customers would also mean that you cater to a particular neighborhood, indicating that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. Make this possible by running a city-specific offer on social media and custom discounts to local customers on Instagram Shop.
Additionally, social media increases the visibility of your online content that drives business exposure. Share high-quality, tailored content about your business regularly to show your customers and search engines that your business is engaged locally.
Mistake #7. Failing to garner customer reviews
Many businesses fail to get client feedback on Google. Therefore, if you’re missing out on the reviews of your Google Business Profile page, you are not alone. The real issue is that adding a review requires significant work on your consumers’ part.
Regrettably, there is no silver bullet here. You can ask the customer to write a review either by email, in-person, or over the phone. Try to make it possible and easy for customers to review your business. In exchange, you can provide them discounts or goodies to create a win-win situation.
One of the highly effective ways to get reviews quickly involves providing an email with a review link and directions to post a review. This is simple since your customer does not need to find your business manually. With an email for review link, you’re leading them right to it.
You can unlock unmatched competitive advantages by garnering positive reviews. Though this process takes time, it is worth sending a customized email to each customer this holiday season to leverage your sale for better reviews.
Remember to respond to all reviews, positive and negative ones. Doing so would mean that you care for customers and are active in responding to any of their concerns.
Mistake #8. Not modifying local pages for the holidays
Search engines treat each query differently depending on the user location and search intent. If the user’s location is ‘on,’ Google can prioritize local results when one searches for “best mechanic.” Instead of showing the best mechanic in the world, the query would return results centered around finding the “best local mechanics for me.”
Optimizing your local pages for a holiday would mean keeping your address and telephone number on each of your web pages in a footer segment. Search engines will use that to determine if you’re a local business to users.
Capitalizing on festival search-demand requires you to set up ‘Christmas Sale’ and ‘New Years Sale’ landing pages early in December. Later, optimize all content with the right set of targeted keywords and include internal links (with local elements like city, vicinity, etc.) to the new landing pages to boost their rankings.
Mistake #9. Not implementing Schema Markup
Search engines get information on the specifics of your listing with the help of schema markup. This way, it can identify what constitutes an address, a phone number, operating hours, etc. As a result, you need not mention them many times.
Schema markup is a structured data language enabling search engines to comprehend the information on your website better and offer more relevant results to users. It also helps your site stand out from your competitors by creating an improved description. You don’t have to be a coder to add schema markup to your website; simply follow these steps, and you are done.
Implementing it would require you to include key information like operating hours, business, and contact details. Apply schema markup once you are done creating these pages. Note that this will not impact your front-end, and it is something that occurs in the background. Still, you will see a significant positive impact on local SERP.
Mistake #10: Not adding products to Google’s Merchant Center
A month after the pandemic hit the world, Google changed its retail search results to organic and unpaid results. Meaning, it is now free to sell on Google as it shows local listings into its shopping results, providing a great opportunity for small, local businesses.
But, there’s a caveat. Currently, getting your products to Google Shopping will require you to add products to Google Merchant Center.
Small businesses often make the mistake of not adding products to Google’s Merchant Center and eventually lose out on potential customers. You must follow these few basic steps to set up your merchant center account.
Begin by submitting your product feeds to Google Merchant Center, offering Local surfaces across Google for your business. It includes getting your products listed in all areas where Google may display your product listings for free — Google Images, Google Shopping, Google Lens, and Google Search.
Mistake# 11. Overlooking conversion optimization
Ultimately, every business aims to acquire new consumers, especially during the holiday season. And this requires generating traffic and getting the necessary orders by converting them. However, many firms overlook conversion optimization and instead focus only on the top of the funnel. You would want these users to convert by taking necessary action.
Converting the new users into buyers will need you to cater to their demands at each stage. A powerful SEO strategy involves using testimonials, distributing case studies, and providing other customers’ success stories to make a purchase decision.
The goal should be to make the buying process as simple as possible for them. Ignoring conversion optimization would mean missing out on many consumers during the holiday season when the internet traffic is at its peak.
Long-tail keywords, optimized content, and increased online presence are basic components of a successful local SEO plan. Any business may suffer if any of these areas are left out.
Committing any of the local SEO mistakes that affect your ranking may cost you dearly this holiday season. So, ensure you have a comprehensive SEO strategy in place that looks beyond the conventional methods and mistakes.
Preparing for a holiday season will require your SEO team to leave no stone unturned when reviewing the site. Monitor each aspect of your SEO strategy to leverage the massive influx of traffic that is bound to set new benchmarks for your business this holiday season.