The clocks have gone back, so you can already guess what’s coming next.
Yes, that’s right. Christmas will be here soon, and with it the mad rush to buy things you don’t need for people you probably don’t even care for that much. It beggars belief really why we do such things, but we always do unfailingly. Obviously because many of us are strapped for cash this year we might not open our wallets as regularly as we’ve previously done. But make no mistake, people will still spend: maybe just more modestly. For local businesses Christmas offers a fantastic marketing opportunity. It’s bonanza time for them usually, but it all depends on their retail strategy. If a local business optimises their marketing website specifically for this season, then they could prosper. If they fail to make changes to their local SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy, then they won’t. It’s that simple.So, what sort of changes are we talking about here?
How can local businesses tweak their SEO so that online shoppers become in store customers?
Understand Local Search and the mentality of the holiday shopper.
Your website maybe optimised for the local market and function reasonably well throughout the rest of the year, but standard SEO rules tend to go out the window at Christmas. Normally your SEO will be focused on certain keywords, but at Christmas shoppers change the way they search for products. They tend to use more specific brand-related search queries. So if their parameters change, yours should too. Try using more brand-specific keywords to optimise for local search at this lucrative time.
Location, Location, Location.
The best way to drive in-store traffic from your online SEO efforts is by focusing on the “local” aspect of local search. The most common local search behavior includes a consumer searching for a product or company online, then actually going into the store to make a purchase. But in order to get the attention of these consumers, you’ll have to optimise your retail marketing site for local terms as well. By using long tail local search keywords, such as “Manchester Raleigh bicycle dealer,” you’ll not only reach a targeted and specific local audience, but you’re less likely to have as much competition for the keywords too.
Local Search cries out for Google Places.
As anyone who has ever performed a local search knows, searching for nearby products and companies generally leads you to a Google Places listing on the search results page. Creating or improving your Google Places business listing should be a fundamental part of your holiday retail marketing efforts. To improve the way your listing appears in local search results, you can update the description or include custom attributes using holiday-related keywords, similar to or the same as those used within your website’s SEO.
Add Products to Google’s Merchant Centre.
Whilst you’re at it, why not add Google’s Merchant Centre as well? Merchant Centre shows a local products inventory when possible, and is a boom for improving SEO for local search. It can be a useful tool for attracting online shoppers to your store, especially those last-minute shoppers who haven’t left enough time for an item to be shipped.
Don’t overly worry about your choice of words.
People are easily offended nowadays. You don’t even have to say anything controversial, yet the chances are someone somewhere will kick off and claim to be upset. The holiday season is Christmas time, so why not just call it that rather than some convoluted, mealy-mouthed phrase. If you’re marketing your ‘Christmas gift ideas’ call them that, rather than ‘holiday gift ideas’ or worse still ‘seasonal gift ideas.’. There’s certainly no intent to antagonise or offend those people who maybe don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s just sticking to your guns and doing what’s best for your local business. You’re only listing the keywords that customers will be searching for, after all.